The modern work environment is an open idea for interpretation, implementation, and strategy. Between full-blown autonomy, a flexible schedule within constraints, or a five day-a-week commitment to a centralized workspace, these different approaches are leading to higher turnover rates across the board. Some of the largest companies— Amazon, Starbucks, even Zoom — have already implemented return to office (RTO) mandates for corporate employees.
For CFOs, it appears some may already be caught in a difficult spot. If the board or CEO favors returning to the office, and the finance leader knows this isn’t the best move for them or the employees, what do they do?
According to Workplace Intelligence and Deloitte Insight’s recent survey on cultivating employee engagement, most CFOs and their fellow executives in financial services organizations will leave if forced to return to the office full-time. Out of nearly 700 full-time executives with a hybrid work schedule, two-thirds (66%) said they would quit their current position if forced to go back to the office full-time. The survey targeted the following financial services industries: banking and capital markets, insurance, investment management, and commercial real estate.
Consequences of Poor RTO Implementation
For organizations that slam the gavel on a full-time office transition, they could face more than just the loss of talent. According to research, these companies could face a “dual threat” when it comes to labor issues, as the departures could bleed down to lower levels, and put these companies at a competitive disadvantage for equal talent to replace the departures.
It's not the case that employees want to work from home and only home, however. Research also shows most employees desire some type of hybrid schedule. A quarter (25%) of employees said their ideal work environment is a 1-to-2-day-a-week hybrid schedule. Nearly a fifth (18%) desired between 3 and 4 days a week.
Even if the goal is to return to the office, executives would probably be best off introducing a hybrid schedule for a while before eliminating remote options, according to the data. That will not only benefit companies from a productivity and employee morale standpoint, but it also may buy them some time with managers and employees who are only willing to work hybrid right now.
Perceived In-Office Advantages
When working in a hybrid schedule, especially for those transitioning into one, employees may view appearances in the office as opportunities to demonstrate their value and potential to management.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of business leaders say those of equal stature who work in the office more are more likely to become CEO, with 63% also saying they believe in-office employees are more likely to get promoted. Over half (55%) said these individuals also have more decision-making power, and a nearly equal amount (52%) said they believe in-office workers are paid more.
Gender disparities related to insecurities and productivity paranoia associated with remote work are notable. According to the Deloitte Insight/Workplace Intelligence survey, men are much more likely to prefer remote work than women, even if a negative outcome is certain. Nearly seven in 10 (68%) of all men surveyed said they would prefer to work remote more often, despite knowing it may hurt their career trajectory. Slightly over half (55%) of women said the same.
Men were also much more likely to feel they were missing out on networking and socializing opportunities than women, too, the data shows. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of men said they felt this way, while less than half (46%) of women did.
As people began to work from home for the first time, personal lives became intertwined with work. Children appearing on Zoom calls, pets on team meetings, even the suit-jacket and shorts combination on video job interviews instilled a human element in the workplace that many organizations had never experienced. And it has resulted in most employees having some type of improvement in their personal lives.
Both genders nearly agree on this one. Most people surveyed (75% of men and 67% of women, respectively) saw improvements in relationships with their children because of remote work. Almost two-thirds (64%) of all respondents saw improvements with their spouse, and over half (55%) saw improvements in relationships with their friends.
Two-thirds (66%) saw improvements in mental health and work-life balance, while just over six in 10 (62%) saw improvements in their physical health.