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Flexible back-to-office mandates may bring less quit risk

As the post-pandemic work landscape evolves, flexibility in work arrangements has become a priority for employees. Companies that adapt to it may reduce flight risks.

As back-to-office directives go, Zoom's recent mandate was less severe than some. The video conferencing provider said that employees living near its offices should return in person at least twice a week to work with their teams.

Zoom elected for a hybrid return-to-work approach, but a study released this week from Deloitte suggested that if the company had required employees to return to the office full-time, it could have experienced retention risks.

Deloitte surveyed 700 professionals, managers and higher job titles in financial services. The survey found that full-time office return directives have risks. About 66% of remote workers reported they might quit if they must work in an office full time.

Only 18% of survey respondents considered being in the office for three to four days ideal.

"Giving employees the autonomy to choose their office days can contribute to a better work-life balance," said Dan Schawbel, managing partner at Workplace Intelligence, a research firm that worked with Deloitte on the survey. "When employees feel that their employer respects their work-life balance, they are likelier to stay with the company."

Zoom, which is based in San Jose and has offices globally, stated it believes "a structured hybrid approach -- meaning employees that live near an office need to be onsite two days a week to interact with their teams -- is most effective for Zoom."

But Zoom didn't rule out remote work hires. "We will continue to hire the best talent, regardless of location," it stated. The company didn't respond to questions from TechTarget Editorial.

Small companies and remote work

Giving employees the autonomy to choose their office days can contribute to better work-life balance.
Dan SchawbelManaging partner, Workplace Intelligence

Small organizations might be the big winners in the push to bring employees back to the office. "Smaller companies can gain a competitive advantage over larger ones" by remaining fully remote, Schawbel said.

He added, "Smaller companies might struggle to compete for top talent in their local markets due to limited resources." But by adopting a remote work model, "they can recruit skilled individuals regardless of their geographic location."

But even with employer back-to-office edicts, office occupancy is still low compared to pre-COVID-19 numbers. Kastle Systems, a managed security provider that uses employee key card swipe data to estimate occupancy, recently measured the overall occupancy at about 49% across 10 metro areas. This is measured against a pre-pandemic baseline.

For those workers who go into the office, Tuesday "remains the high point" at about 57% occupancy, Kastle reported.

Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.

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