Home / News / World /  Are return-to-office mandates making employees nervous? New survey explains why

As the pandemic scare takes a back seat with social distancing norms no longer a compulsion in outdoor settings, a new survey states that return-to-office mandates may be back in vogue and causing a different kind of scare. Only this time, almost 80% of remote workers believe their employers would fire them if they said “no" to a return-to-office mandate, according to Bloomberg report.

An interesting observation pointed out by a survey of 800 workers and 200 business leaders by OSlash, a productivity software company, stated that the fears of of the employees may not be unfounded as nearly 60% of employers say they’d be content with employees resigning rather than returning to the office.

Employees reluctant to give up autonomy:

Notably, big-name companies like Apple Inc. and Peloton Interactive Inc. are leading the charge, setting Labor Day as their latest deadline for corporate employees to be in the office at least three days a week, noting that the push has driven a wedge between workers and their bosses, with many rank-and-file employees reluctant to give up the flexibility and autonomy they enjoyed during the pandemic, highlighted the Bloomberg report.

The curious stories of employee resistance are well documented on social media platforms with one of the most popular posts on the subreddit r/antiwork this month described a worker replying all to a company-wide message with,  simply, “no." Meanwhile, just last week the New York Times offered employees branded lunchboxes to welcome them back to the office, even as the gesture fell flat as more than 1,200 pledged to work from home to protest the mandated return and to pressure the company to negotiate with the union over returning to the building, the Bloomberg report said.

Employers see remote workers as more expendable:

According to the OSlash survey, for employers who want to sweeten the deal, more money, flexible scheduling and free food were some of the most popular incentives workers said would lure the employees back to office. Alternatively, four out of five of employees would be happy to take a pay cut to continue working from home, with Gen Z workers the most willing to do so, the report said. Another interesting highlight from the survey stated that for those employees refusing to return to office more than one-third of employers see remote workers as more expendable than those on site.

While employers polled say they’re prepared to offer flexible scheduling, with 60% saying they would offer hybrid options to employees disinclined to return to in-person work, even as 20% said they would continue to let their employees work remotely if challenged, almost the same portion said they would fire workers who refused to return to their desks, making outright refusal a risky proposition. Perhaps the most important observation by the survey notes that over 10% of business leaders admitted using a return-to-the-office mandate to terminate employees without having to lay them off.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)

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