Home Truths: A Forced Return to the Office Could Lose You Talent

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  • ‘The Great Wait’ to find out about the return to the office is causing growing disenchantment among employees
  • Research finds that 66% of Brits prefer working from home to full-time in-office working
  • 65% of people in the UK would rather do something like clean the loo than commute to the office regularly 

“Are you back in the office?” If there was an annual award for most-asked question, this would surely win the 2021 gold medal. 

For some of us, the answer is “part-time – for now”, accompanied by a feeling of reluctance knowing that we’ll soon be asked to return to the office full-time. For others, an at least partial reopening of the office would be a welcome change from home working.

From sad to mad: why businesses are facing a flood of resignations 

Whatever side of the remote/on-site fence office workers are on, many still find themselves in limbo about their future working arrangements, and this ‘Great Wait’, as US organisational consultant Kate Bullinger calls it – is fostering unhappiness with employers. 

This rising tide of discontentment is fuelling what’s being dubbed ‘‘The Great Resignation’, as workers leave – or make plans to leave – in their droves. 

This push to quit is particularly rife among the younger generations: 32% of people aged 21-24 say they’re planning to leave their place of employment, with a further 27% planning to leave in the next six months, according to a recent RingCentral survey. 

Workplace attitudes: a few key statistics

Our research also highlighted a few other notable trends among younger workers. Here are a few examples: 

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Graphic source

Although many of us have embraced home working – 66% of us prefer it to full-time in person office working, according to RingCentral’s studyremote working has also taken a toll on our mental health, with some workers feeling disconnected from their workplace community. 

COVID-19 makes us nervous about a return to the office


Even with rising vaccination rates, COVID-19 fears have created anxiety about meeting in person. 52% of Brits say there are now colleagues they haven’t met in person. Among this group, 47% feel anxious about meeting these new colleagues face-to-face, and 75% believe that people returning to in-person workplace models should have a COVID-19 vaccine.

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Graphic source

The growing call for a better work-life balance

While remote working impacts how connected employees feel to each other, a lot of people now have a better work-life balance. Many are simply not prepared to return to the way of working that was commonplace before the pandemic. Five days a week of commuting on public transport twice a day? It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. 

The feelings on commuting are so strong that 65% would prefer to perform an undesirable task like cleaning the toilet (37%) or having our in-laws to stay for the weekend (25%). 

Another survey from The Morning Consult found that 40% of workers say they’ll resign if their employers force them to return to working full time in the office. (There’s that whole flex-or-leave thing again.)

Flexibility is the golden ticket, both for employees and employers wishing to attract and retain them.

That’s why, at RingCentral, we offer both remote and part-office based roles as our technologies allow you to work from anywhere. Of course, there will always be roles that have to be in an office environment, but for us, the majority of opportunities are remote-based roles. 

Ignore the push for greater flexibility at your peril

Spend five minutes on a job search engine, and you’ll see numerous positions offering ‘flexi-remote’ working and ‘hybrid options’. 

Job hunters want to work for businesses that can offer them the flexibility of in-office and/or remote working. In fact, money is now less important to us than that flexibility: nearly 75% of us would choose the long-term ability to work flexibly over going back to the office with a 10% pay rise. 

If employers refuse to offer hybrid or remote working, they will find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain the best talent. 

So, there’s no time like now to start getting that hybrid working model into place. Do that and you’ll find yourself with a happier, more productive workforce and new talent knocking at your door. 

Why is an employer's flexibility more important to people than ever before? Find out in our latest study.

Originally published Dec 03, 2021, updated Dec 06, 2021

Mags Deogun

Senior Manager Talent Acquisition EMEA

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