Employers: If you want to keep most of your staff, don’t make them come back to the office full time

Ganda Suthivarakom

Apr 11, 2022

We’ve heard of the Great Resignation, but we’re skeptical; we don’t think employees necessarily want to exit in droves. We’re thinking of this as a Great Realignment—a moment when we can truly restructure the way we work. After all, we don’t want to go back to the office either; we want to go forward. And employees have strong opinions on the battle to return to the office. We and our think tank, hmm, surveyed 1,500 people on what they want from their workplaces.

40% said they would rather quit their job than return to an office full time

That’s a number that should concern any manager hoping to see more than two-thirds of their staff back at their desks. We also learned that 53.7% of respondents are not being provided any incentives to return to the office. Employers might want to reconsider making a return to the office an obligation, or risk having to rehire for open positions with job openings at historically high levels.

76.7% would prefer a monthly stipend to cover distributed work costs than the option to work from the office

While community and serendipitous creativity are often cited as reasons for a return to the office, more than three-quarters of survey respondents said they would rather receive a monthly stipend or some form of monetary compensation than the option to return to the office. Commercial real estate is a big expense, and one that employers could consider redistributing directly to workers to support their home office costs. (Ahem, we already offer our employees a distributed facilities supplement to cover whatever they think will give them a healthier and more productive work environment. We call it OOO money.)

71.5% believe it’s unfair for an employer to request a salary cut after an employee relocates

Google said it would cut salaries by up to 25% for people who relocate to more affordable cities. In our survey, 71.5% of respondents believe that such pay cuts are unfair. Now that the world has seen that quality of work doesn’t have to suffer when done by a distributed team, people want to be paid for their work and the value they add, not for where they choose to live.

69.5% said flexibility is an important work benefit

Hiring managers, take note: 69.5% of our survey respondents chose flexibility as important when looking for a new job—more than healthcare and dental coverage (55.9%) and vacation time (50.3%).

50.6% of respondents would rather give asynchronous updates than have a meeting

More than half of respondents said they would prefer to give updates without having to meet. If your team isn’t already practicing good asynchronous communication, check out mmhmm’s recording features and see how easy it is to send a quick video that covers what you’ve been working on for the week. This is especially important for managers—your direct reports will feel more comfortable communicating without a meeting if you model the behavior first.

This survey was conducted in March 2022 among 1,500 working adults around the world via Ask Your Target Market (AYTM).