Only 3% of white-collar workers want to return to their office full-time: survey

Only 3% of white-collar workers want to return to the office five days a week, according to a poll by management consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates, which warned employees would quit if bosses force them back full-time.

86% of employees want to work from home at least two days a week, the consultancy said after surveying nearly 10,000 people worldwide in areas including finance, technology and energy. All age groups felt the same, they added. Workers reported a preference for trips to cities on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, raising the prospect of empty offices for the rest of the week.

Many banks are preparing for flexible working after two years of COVID shutdowns, with the likes of Citigroup Inc., HSBC Holdings Plc and NatWest Group Plc allowing hybrid working for many employees. Some fintech companies like Revolut Ltd. and Eigen Technologies Ltd. even allow staff to work entirely remotely.

“Employers need to realize that the genie has come out of the bottle,” Andrew Mawson, AWA’s chief executive, said in a statement. “Workers have seen that flexibility can work and bosses who are not sensitive to the needs of their employees will suffer as a result.”

NatWest expects around 87% of its 60,000 employees to split work between home and the office in the longer term. For now, about 10,000 of its employees, including merchants and branch and data center workers, are still working entirely in the office, said Sam Bowerman, one of the bank’s human resources directors, in an interview earlier this month.

“We want to avoid requiring X number of days per week. It’s customer-driven,” Bowerman said. “So far, we haven’t seen any harm to productivity and the flexibility has produced a lot of goodwill.”

Photograph: Sunlight illuminates an empty desk as employees work from home, at the offices of UiPath Inc. in Bucharest, Romania, Friday, May 14, 2021. Photo credit: Andrei Pungovschi/Bloomberg.

Copyright 2022 Bloomberg.

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Elizabeth J. Harless