Return To The Office: News & Data Center

Return to the office

Table of contents

RTO news & sentiment by company: Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Bank Of America, Goldman SachsJP Morgan Chase, Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo

In 2020, white-collar workers were put through an experiment unlike we’ve ever seen before. Most of the time when scientists want to run an experiment, they’ll gather a few hundred or a few thousand people to split into the control group and the test group. This test – about how and where desk jobs are done – was run on the entire world with millions and millions of people.

You know the story:

  • Until March of 2020, most of the white-collar, knowledge-worker desk jobs were done from a company office
  • From March 2020 into 2022, most of these jobs were done from home (or remotely)

In late 2021 for some and early 2022 for most, many companies attempted to stop the experiment. They pushed for a triumphant “return to the office” it became known. It even got it’s own acronym! RTO. This period of time where companies sort out where work will be done is a fascinating look at employee versus employer preferences, technology’s impact on society, the future of the cities, and the globalization of desk jobs.

At Buildremote, we’ve collected and analyzed all of the news and data around the return-to-office trend. This article acts as the hub for all of the information you can find on RTO.

 

Statistics For The Fortune 100’s Return To The Office

Return To Office Fortune 100

We track, and update monthly, the return-to-office policies for the 100 biggest companies in the United States. Some have declared they are now a remote-first company, others have doubled down on their office-first mentality, and most have chosen a hybrid work model (at least for now).

Return To The Office Statistics

According to primary research we conduct each month at Buildremote, here are the main takeaways of our study of the Fortune 100’s return to office policies:

  • 77% of the Fortune 100 operate on a hybrid work schedule.
  • 18% of the Fortune 100 have declared they do not require any office visits per week, the most common policy.
  • More than twice as many Fortune 100 companies (19%) require 1-3 visits to the office per week than companies that require full-time, in-office work (8%).
  • Twice as many Fortune 100 companies (34%) returned to the office in 2022 as they did in 2021 (17%).
  • Seven Fortune 100 companies – including Amazon, Intel, & Cisco – have declared they will not make an official return to office date and will not require office attendance.
  • 11% of the Fortune 100 have announced they reduced their office space footprint.

 

Remote Work Policy Statistics

return to office workplace policies

  • Hybrid: 77
  • Office First: 5
  • Remote First: 2
  • Unknown: 16

If you’d like to see the full dataset, click on the chapter title below.

Read the full chapter:
Every Fortune 100’s Return To Office Policy

 

Every Major Company Reducing Office Space

Companies Reducing Office Space

With hundreds of notable companies going remote (no longer needing office space) and others going hybrid (no longer needing the amount of office space they had), there’s one obvious relief valve – companies cancelling or reducing their office space.

Buildremote tracks and updates the list of notable companies reducing office space every month. Here are a few of those companies. Click here if you’d like to see the full dataset.

Company

Employees

Date

Lease Plan

Policy

Story

Geico

40,000

(Multiple)

"Californians hoping to walk into a GEICO insurance office for their needs are out of luck: The company has shuttered all of its 38 offices in the state.

People looking to sign up for a GEICO policy will need to access their offerings online. California customers cannot purchase policies via phone."

Amazon

1,298,000

Pause

Hybrid

"Amazon said it is pausing construction on five Bellevue office towers, as well as mothballing a sixth. For the ones already started, the company will complete the 'core and shell' and then stop work for an unknown period of time. The six towers would total roughly half the company’s planned Bellevue footprint."

Centene

71,300

Sublease/

Cancel

Partial

"Centene Corp. is terminating leases for two of its office buildings in St. Louis, but one has already leased most of that space to a new tenant. The move to shed more office space locally is part of the health care giant's ongoing efforts to shed half its office space."

JPMorgan Chase

255,351

Office First

"JPMorgan Chase, New York City’s largest office tenant, cut its commercial footprint by 400,000 square feet last year, Crain’s reported. The bank, which has said it plans to “significantly reduce” its global office footprint in the coming years, also downsized by 300,000 square feet in 2020."

Wells Fargo

268,531

Hybrid

"According to Crain’s, Wells Fargo reduced its commercial space in New York City by 600,000 square feet last year."

Anthem

83,400

Sublease

"Anthem is seeking tenants to sublease 164,000 square feet at its technology campus [in Atlanta]. Its decision comes amid uncertaintly about the demand for office space."

Comcast

168,000

Sublease

"Comcast Corp has decided to close and sublease a 150,000-square foot office building it had used as a call center and have its 600 employees that manned the facility work remotely indefinitely. Since the start of the pandemic, our Newark-based employees successfully shifted to virtual positions, and as a result, we made the decision to close the facility," Comcast said in a statement.

Thermo Fisher Scientific

84,362

Sell

"Thermo Fisher Scientific, PPD’s clinical research business, is seeking new office space in Wilmington and exploring opportunities to sell its current downtown property. According to an announcement released Monday, the multi-year initiative will enable Thermo Fisher Scientific to better match current and future workspace needs with flexible work models."

USAA

35,935

Sublease

Hybrid

USAA will sublease portions of its downtown office on Convent Street, as the pandemic-era trend toward remote work continues to reshape the city’s office landscape. 'Like many companies, the pandemic and a shift to hybrid and remote working have changed our real estate needs,' wrote USAA spokesman Christian Bove in an email."

Citigroup

210,153

Cancel

Hybrid

"Citigroup, which this year told employees they could work at home at least part time, plans to exit its 41-story namesake tower in downtown San Francisco for a new home half the size on the Embarcadero. PGIM Real Estate listed Citigroup’s six floors at 1 Sansome Street as a direct listing available in January 2023, the San Francisco Business Times reported. People close to the company said it will relocate to 1 Market Street, where it will lease about 54,000 square feet."

Allstate

42,010

Sell

Optional

"Insurance giant Allstate has reached an agreement to sell its longtime Northbrook headquarters for $232 million to an industrial developer that plans to turn the corporate campus into a massive logistics facility. 'Allstate is selling the property as employees have more choice about where they work and many are choosing to work from home,' the company said in a news release Monday."

Coca-Cola

80,300

Let Lease Expire

Hybrid

"Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United moved office space from 600 Beacon Parkway in Birmingham to 200 Wildwood Parkway in Homewood. The relocation reduced its square footage, which the company's vice president of public affairs and communications, Linda Sewell, said was due to work-from-home trends. The move to Patriot Park was completed in November 2021, and Graham & Co. was the broker for the deal."

Lockheed Martin

114,000

Downsize

Hybrid

"Lockheed Martin Corp. renewed its office lease at 221 Crystal Drive, but for only 180,000 square feet, downsizing from 220,000 square feet [an 18% contraction], according to CBRE. Lockheed is planning for about half of its 115,000 employees to work on site full-time, with 10% fully remote and the remainder in hybrid configurations."

Boeing

141,000

Sell

Hybrid

"A Florida-based company has acquired from Boeing the Bellevue Eastgate Campus, a seven-building property. Boeing has said it plans to sell off as much as 30% of its global real estate holdings.

McKesson

76,000

Cancel

Hybrid

"Meanwhile, McKesson in May said it plans to adopt a hybrid work model. The Irving, Texas-based company, which has about 76,000 employees around the world, is shrinking its real-estate footprint and expects to book between $180 million to $280 million in related restructuring charges over the next year, CFO Britt Vitalone said in May. The reductions in office space, once fully implemented, are expected to save McKesson between $60 million and $80 million a year, Mr. Vitalone said."

Raytheon Technologies

181,000

Hybrid

"Raytheon Technologies is embracing the hybrid work model as a means to reduce its footprint and foster a more inclusive workforce, CEO Greg Hayes told CNBC Tuesday. Raytheon is looking at reducing its 32 million square feet of space by 25%, or 8 million square feet."

Target

409,000

Partial

"Target Corp., downtown Minneapolis’ largest office employer, announced last week it will leave its headquarters space in the City Center building, reducing its downtown office footprint by a third, or 1 million square feet, while not laying off any employees. Meaning more people are working from home, and will continue to be."

CVS Health

256,500

Hybrid

"CVS Health says it will shrink its office footprint by about 30% in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has ushered in an era of telecommuting and prompted greater investments in digitization measures."

Oracle

135,000

Sublease

Hybrid

"Oracle Corp has placed four out of five stories it occupies in the Financial District office building in San Francisco on the sublease market. The block comprises 85,622 square feet. Oracle's sublease comes just over a month after the company announced... that it would relocate its headquarters from Redwood City to Austin, Texas."

State Farm Insurance

57,582

Cancel

Hybrid

"State Farm Insurance Co. is poised to become one of the first major Northern Colorado employers to abandon its physical office spaces and adopt a fully work-from-home employment model as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bloomington, Illinois-based insurer plans to vacate a dozen offices across the country 'Most employees assigned to these locations have been working from home since March and will continue to do so,” State Farm spokeswoman Gina Morss-Fischer told BizWes in an email."

AT&T

230,760

Sublease

Hybrid

"AT&T's Mobility Services Group has reportedly placed a large block of Class A office up for sublease that would run through December 2028. The space totals 335,893 square feet."

Liberty Mutual Insurance Group

45,000

Sublease

Optional

"Liberty Mutual Insurance is seeking to rent out almost a quarter of its two-tower office campus on the Dallas North Tollway. Liberty Mutual built the more than 1 million-square-foot office complex to house up to 5,000 workers. But the Boston-based insurance giant has never occupied all of the buildings and is now pitching some of its space for lease to other companies. A Liberty Mutual spokesman said in an email: 'Even prior to the coronavirus pandemic, ongoing changes in our work environment, including moving to flex seating and flexible work arrangements, had resulted in an increase in excess office space in Plano and other locations.'"

International Business Machines

364,800

Cancel

Hybrid

India: "IBM is planning to discontinue lease agreements at nearly half of its offices in major cities across the country, people familiar with the development told ET, as the US-based technology leader sees the work-from-home model becoming mainstream and a significant number of employees to continue working remotely. IBM, which has a large presence in the domestic market, has more than 10 million square feet of leased office [and 100,000 employees] in the country.

Nationwide

25,391

Hybrid

"Nationwide said it plans to permanently transition to a hybrid operating model that comprises primarily working-from-office in four main corporate campuses and working-from-home in most other locations. The company said it will exit most buildings outside of four main campuses by November 1, 2020 and move associates in these locations to permanent remote-working status."

Read the full chapter:
Every Major Company Reducing Office Space

 

San Francisco’s Return To The Office

San Francisco Return To Office

San Francisco is having the hardest time of all major US cities getting employees to return to the office. The office utilization rate in San Francisco is just 39.2%, the lowest of the 10 biggest metros in the United States. There is 25 million square feet of office space available for lease or sublease. And 24% of office space sits empty, a shocking 554% increase since the end of 2019.

London Breed, the Mayor of San Francisco, even put together a “Welcome Back to SF” pledge for major San Francisco employers to get employees back to the office in March of 2022. All efforts have fallen short as more and more people choose to work from home and/or move out of San Francisco, and companies go fully remote and cancel office leases outright.

Here is everything you need to know about San Francisco’s current state of returning to the office: office utilization statistics, office vacancy statistics, RTO plans for the five biggest employers, notable companies cancelling office space, and sentiment about RTO from city officials.

San Francisco’s Return To Office Overview

  • Office Utilization Rate: 39.2% (-17% the national average)
  • Available Office Space: 25 million square feet
  • Office Vacancy Rate: 24% (up from 3.7% pre-pandemic, Q4 2019)
  • Most Common Policy From Biggest Employers: Hybrid, 2-3 days per week in office
  • Mayor Sentiment: Pro-office

 

San Francisco’s Office Utilization Statistics

According to Kastle Systems as of September 26, 2022, San Francisco has an office utilization rate of 39.2%. This data is pulled from Kastle access control systems used across office buildings in the United States. The occupancy rate is as compared to January of 2020 before pandemic lockdowns started.

  • San Francisco has an office utilization rate of 39.2%
  • The average across the ten biggest metros is 47.3%
  • San Francisco’s office utilization rate is 17% below the average
  • San Francisco has the lowest utilization rate of all 10 metros

 

Office occupancy San Francisco
Image Credit: Kastle Systems

 

San Francisco’s Office Vacancy Statistics

According to CBRE as of Q2 2022 (the report link has since been removed since writing this – see the chart below), San Francisco has an office vacancy rate of 24.2%. CBRE, a commercial real estate firm, compiles this data for office buildings with 10,000+ square feet in downtown San Francisco (and excludes owner-occupied buildings).

  • San Francisco has 25 million square feet of office space available for lease or sublease (source)
  • San Francisco has an office vacancy rate of 24.2%
  • San Francisco’s office vacancy rate pre-pandemic (Q4 2022) was 3.7%
  • Office vacancy has increased by 554% since the end of 2019
  • San Francisco’s availability rate is 28.7%, up from 10% at the end of 2019

 

Office vacancy rate San Francisco
Image Credit: CBRE

 

RTO Plans For San Francisco’s 5 Biggest Employers

Company

RTO Date

Location Policy

Office Visit Expectations

Salesforce

March 7, 2022

No expectation

Hybrid

3 days per week

Hybrid

3 days per week

Uber

August 25, 2022

Hybrid

50% office

Lyft

Hybrid

Undetermined

 

Notable San Francisco Companies Reducing Office Space

Company

Employees

Date

Lease Plan

Remote Policy

Block

8,500

Let Lease Expire

Remote First

Salesforce

50,000

Cancel

Remote First

Dropbox

2,800

Cancel

Remote First

Pinterest

3,200

Cancel

Remote First

Uber

29,000

Sublease

Hybrid

Autodesk

12,500

Cancel

Hybrid

Citigroup

210,153

Cancel

Hybrid

Eventbrite

1,000

Let Lease Expire

Hybrid

Zynga

2,300

Cancel

Hybrid

Yelp

3,900

Sublease

Remote First

Affirm Holdings

1,340

Sublease

Remote First

Airbnb

6,000

Sublease/ Cancel

Remote First

Oracle

135,000

Sublease

Hybrid

Credit Karma

1,600

Office First

 

San Francisco’s Sentiment For Return To Office (RTO)

March 3, 2022

“We are excited to welcome people back to downtown to work, to dine, and to experience the arts and culture that make this City special. This March is the start of a new beginning for this City, and I want to thank all the businesses and workers who are committed to supporting our city and our small businesses” (source).

March 9, 2022

“When I put out the call to businesses about committing to bring workers back into the offices, so many answered,” Breed said. “They are investing and they are returning. They want San Francisco to succeed” (source).

July 15, 2022

“I wouldn’t call this an exodus. I would call it a change,” Breed said. “We’ve experienced a global pandemic. People have been working from home. And I think that most employees want some level of work from home as they returned to the office. And a lot of employers are providing that as an option” (source).

 

New York City’s Return To The Office

NYC Return To Office

New York City’s office space utilization has gone way down and vacancy rates have gone way up since early 2020. Although New York isn’t having as hard of a time as San Francisco, NYC’s return to office plans remain far below pre-pandemic levels. The office utilization is 46.1%, meaning that offices are being visited by less than half as many people as a few years ago. There is 113 million square feet of office space available for lease or sublease, a 72% increase from March of 2020.

New York City’s mayor has called all city employees back to the office full time and has encouraged major employers to do the same.

Here is everything you need to know about New York City’s current state of returning to the office: office utilization statistics, office availability statistics, RTO plans for the five biggest employers, notable companies cancelling office space, and sentiment about RTO from city officials.

 

New York City’s Return To Office Overview

  • Office Utilization Rate: 46.1% (-3% the national average)
  • Available Office Space (Manhattan): 113 million square feet (72% increase from March 2020)
  • Office Availability Rate: 17.2%
  • Most Common Policy From Biggest Employers: Hybrid, 3 days per week in office
  • Mayor Sentiment: Office-only

 

New York City’s Office Utilization Statistics

According to Kastle Systems as of September 26, 2022, New York City has an office utilization rate of 46.1%. This data is pulled from Kastle access control systems used across office buildings in the United States. The occupancy rate is as compared to January of 2020 before pandemic lockdowns started.

  • New York City has an office utilization rate of 46.1%
  • The average across the ten biggest metros is 47.3%
  • New York City’s office utilization rate is 3% below the average
  • New York City has fourth highest utilization rate of all 10 metros

 

Office occupancy San Francisco
Image Credit: Kastle Systems

 

New York City’s Office Availability Statistics

According to a Q2 2022 report from ColliersManhattan alone has an office availability rate of 17.2%. Colliers statistical sample set for Manhattan totals 540 million square.

  • Manhattan has 92.75 million square feet of office space available for lease
  • Manhattan has 20.47 million square feet of office space available for sublease
  • Manhattan has an office availability rate of 17.2%
  • Office availability has increase by 72.2% since March 2020

 

average-availability-rate-nyc-office-space

 

RTO Plans For New York’s 5 Biggest Employers

Company

RTO Date

Location Policy

Office Visit Expectations

IBM

Hybrid

3 days per week

February 1, 2022

Hybrid

3 days per week

Citigroup

Hybrid

2 days per week

PwC

November 1, 2021

Hybrid

3 days per week

PepsiCo

No return date

Remote First

Optional

 

Notable NYC Companies Reducing Office Space

Company

Employees

Date

Lease Plan

Remote Policy

JPMorgan Chase

255,351

Office First

Wells Fargo

268,531

Hybrid

Yelp

3,900

Sublease

Remote First

 

New York City’s Sentiment For Return To Office (RTO)

February 17, 2022

New Yorkers, it’s time to get back to work. You can’t tell me you’re afraid of COVID on Monday and I see you in a nightclub on Sunday” (source).

June 1, 2022

I’m trying to fill up office buildings, and I’m telling JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, I’m telling all of them, ‘Listen, I need your people back into office so we can build the ecosystem.’ How does that look that city employees are home while I’m telling everyone else it’s time to get back to work?” (source)

“The policy, which was relayed by City Hall chief of staff Frank Carone in a workforce-wide email, dictates that municipal office employees are ‘required to report to work in person for every scheduled workday.'”

July 19, 2022

“So when we start dividing the country to say, ‘those who work from home can — and they know they are the higher income earners — and those low income earners can’t,’ that brings a real challenge for us. We have to be delicate, smart and have equity in mind as we navigate what that future of work looks like” (source).

 

Return To The Office & Quitting Statistics

Return To Office Quitting

We’re living through The Great Resignation where people are reassessing what they want in their work at record levels. It turns out, part of the trend to find a new job is propped up by the the return to the office – a company will tell employees to come back in and some of those employees will look for a new remote job.

Here are a few notable statistics to highlight the trend of quitting as a result of return to office (RTO). To view the full list of statistics and studies, click here.

  • “Two thirds (64%) of the workforce would consider looking for a new job if they were required to return to the office full time.”
  • “40% say they intend to look for a new job in the next six months so that they can work remotely more often or every day.”
  • “More than half of workers (54%) have switched jobs since March 2020. Of those who have switched, two-thirds (67%) now work remotely more often.”
Read the full chapter:
Return To Office Quitting: By The Numbers

 

Return To The Office Incentives, Bribes & Perks

Return To Office Incentives

Organizations are running into problems by forcing a return to office, even on a hybrid schedule. When organizations require two days in the office per week, attendance is 1.1. When they require two or three, it’s 1.6. When they require three, it’s 2.1. That’s according to a survey of 80,000 workers by Advanced Workplace Associates.

Rather than simply embracing remote work – the easy, obvious, beneficial option staring them in the face – managers would rather bang their heads against the office wall. Here’s how some companies are trying to incentivize employees to return to office.

Company

Program

Story

Uber

Open spaces, treehouses, outdoor terraces

"Uber has made changes to the in-office experience that is designed to make a person want to spend time in the office instead of in their home. Uber added operable windows, wellness centers with hanging swing seats, open spaces, and a floor overlooking greenery, making people standing on them feel like they're in a treehouse."



- Thank you Linda Shaffer of Checkr for sharing this story

Nuveen Real Estate

Virtual golf simulators

Brian Wallick, the director of investments at Nuveen Real Estate, told the New York Post that “adding an amenity like golf simulators helps to foster collaboration as part of a unique user experience, especially in a commercial office building”.

DailyPay

Pet stipends

For employees that got a pet during the pandemic, companies such as DailyPay are offering pet stipends to retain staff. The monthly reimbursement can be used for dog-walking, cat sitting, or any other pet-related expenses."


- Thank you Jorge Vivar of Mode for sharing this story

Microsoft

Parties and social events

Scheduling regular social events is one great incentive for returning to the office. Examples include wine tastings, cooking classes, and in-office concerts."


- Thank you Carly Hill of Virtual Holiday Party for sharing this story

Carter's

Childcare

"Many companies are offering daycare or subsidized childcare for return to the office. A lack of childcare can be an obstacle for professionals to return to the office, and free or low-cost supervision can be extremely attractive to workers who have spent months interrupting Zoom meetings and work from home days to tend to kids' needs."


- Thank you Kate Duske of Escape Room Data for sharing this story

CoStar

Tesla raffle

Vacation raffle

Cash raffle

"The real estate group CoStar is giving an extravagant reward for employees committing to get back to the office. In-person employees can get a chance to win a Tesla or a trip to Barbados, and one randomly selected employee gets $10,000 each day for a month. This may look a lot, but it's a bearable sum for a multi-billion dollar company."


- Thank you Justin Carpenter of Modern Maids for sharing this story

Novo Resume

Fuel allowance

"We came up with a policy which offered fuel allowance to all the employees based on the distance of their commute. This encouraged employees to travel to the office and work from there instead of being at home all the time," Andrei Kurtuy of Novo Resume wrote in an email.

Goldman Sachs

Free food

"In order to bring employees back to the office, Goldman Sachs decided to provide them with free meals. That was party due to fewer catering options on the market, and it was essentially a bribe to get everyone back from remote work model."

(source)

Clear Match Medicare

Food trucks and happy hour

"They introduced a free lunch program and asked HR to book the staff a different type of food truck for each day of the week. Thursdays became happy hour days and a tab at the local bar was arranged."

(source)

Bank of America

Cupcakes and staff lunches

"I will tell you I've paid for lots of lunches and cupcakes to celebrate birthdays, and we've gotten creative on what the team wants to see. We've been really good about creating different meetings that people would be interested in."

(source)

The City of London Corporation

Theater, games and live performances

"In August that it had hired a Destination City program curator to roll out events including theater, games and live performances."

(source)

Aldermore

In-office errand assistant

"Bank was encouraging staff back to the office while not reverting to pre-pandemic norms. The bank is considering hiring a concierge to help staff manage daily errands like dry cleaning at the office that they would otherwise have more flexibility to do at home."

(source)

New York Times

Lunch boxes

"The New York Times Co. sparked backlash from its union with its push to get workers back multiple days a week it issued cute lunch boxes branded with the NYT logo, which was met with a widespread refusal by workers to come back."

(source)

Zurich North America

Bring-your-dog-to-work-day

"Zurich North America began allowing dogs in April, and over the past six months brought other new touches to its gleaming, 11-story complex. The company broke down some walls on the 11th floor to create more open spaces, and the facility also now includes a cafe that serves beer and wine in the late afternoons, new outdoor patio furniture and a fire pit."

(source)

Qualcomm

Happy hour

"It’s been great to see so many employees back on campus over the past couple of weeks, and it was incredible to reconnect with #TeamQualcomm at our welcome back happy hour."

(source)

Kellogg School of Management

Free lunch twice per week

"One department at the Kellogg School of Management has introduced free lunches for employees two times a week, Professor Friedrich said."

(source)

Best Buy

Tutors

"Best Buy, which offers backup child care to its employees through Care.com, began to provide $100 monthly reimbursements for tutors for children between the ages of 5 and 18."

(source)

 

Common Questions About Returning To The Office

Return to office questions

Below, I’ll answer a number of questions about this new term, the “return the to office” (or RTO). Click on a question below that interests you to jump to the answer.

  1. Will we ever return to the office?
  2. Why should companies return to the office after COVID?
  3. Are companies returning to the office?
  4. When will companies return to the office?
  5. What companies are delaying their return to office?
  6. Do employees want to return to the office?
  7. Can your employer force you to return to the office?
  8. What should you do if you don’t want to return to office?
  9. How can you refuse to return to the office?
  10. Why should we return to the office?
  11. How can you support employees returning to the office?
  12. How should you encourage employees to return to the office?
  13. When will banks return to the office?
  14. How do you feel about returning to the office?

 

Will we ever return to the office?

This list of the Fortune 100’s RTO plans is the best way to find an answer. In March of 2022, I did an analysis of the Fortune 100 and this is what I found:

  • 18% have returned to the office partially (hybrid, some office locations but not others, or on a trail basis)
  • 6% returned to the office but didn’t share the capacity
  • 3% have returned in full with all employees expected back (Exxon Mobil, JPMorgan Chase, Citi)

That means that 73% of the Fortune 100 haven’t shared their return or haven’t returned at all.

In summary, there will be a return to the office of some sort (mostly hybrid), but you’ll see big portions of the workforce remain remote permanently and many empty offices.

 

Why should companies return to the office after COVID?

Many companies have already stated they will operate on a remote-first or hybrid basis. For the ones that do want to return to the office, there are a few common factors:

  • The management team views in-person collaboration and work as superior to remote
  • Management teams weren’t prepared for remote work, operated poorly during the remote time, and perceive the office as superior
  • The company has commitments to office space (owned or lease) and facing sunk cost fallacy
  • The company’s business has ties to commercial real estate (particularly banks) that have a vested interest in seeing office space maintain its usefulness

 

Are companies returning to the office?

As of March 2022, of the Fortune 100 companies

  • 18% have returned to the office partially (hybrid, some office locations but not others, or on a trail basis)
  • 6% returned to the office but didn’t share the capacity
  • 3% have returned in full with all employees expected back (Exxon Mobil, JPMorgan Chase, Citi)

That means that 73% of the Fortune 100 haven’t shared their return or haven’t returned at all.

 

When will companies return to the office?

  • There were plans to return to the office in the fall of 2020 that were delayed by the Delta variant
  • There were plans to return to the office in the fall of 2021 – winter of 2022 that were delayed by the Omicron variant
  • The first real wave of return-to-offie dates occurred in March and April of 2022

 

What companies are delaying their return to office?

As of April 2022, these companies have delayed a return to the office date without planning a new one: Amazon, Home Depot, Intel, Proctor & Gamble, Prudential Financial, Raytheon, Cisco, AbbVie, Nationwide, Abbot Laboratories, Travelers, Capital One. You can view all of the delays and postponements for the Fortune 100 here.

 

Do employees want to return to the office?

According to a Gallup poll, “Nine in 10 remote workers want to maintain remote work to some degree.” According to a research from Robert Half, half of respondents currently working from home (50%) would look for a new job if their company required a full-time return to the office

 

Can your employer force you to return to the office?

Laws differ by state and country, so there is no single answer to this question. The general rule of thumb in the United States is that an employer can determine the location in which work needs to be done.

 

What should you do if you don’t want to return to office?

Make a pitch to your employer about working permanently remote or hybrid. You can present the benefits to the employer and employee to make a well rounded case. If that doesn’t work, you can search for fully remote companies to guarantee your next role is remote.

 

How can you refuse to return to the office?

Generally, employees cannot refuse to return to the office in the United States. However, if you’ve proven valuable enough to your team, you could pitch to work remotely full time. It would be on the management team to decide to offer that or not. Or if enough people at the company want a permanently remote policy, you could put together a group pitch to the management team.

 

Why should we return to the office?

These are the four most common reasons leadership teams want to return to the office:

  • The management team views in-person collaboration and work as superior to remote
  • Management teams weren’t prepared for remote work, operated poorly during the remote time, and perceive the office as superior
  • The company has commitments to office space (owned or lease) and facing sunk cost fallacy
  • The company’s business has ties to commercial real estate (particularly banks) that have a vested interest in seeing office space maintain its usefulness

 

How can you support employees returning to the office?

Offer flexibility in two ways (that wasn’t offered previously in the office):

  1. Through hybrid work (working from home a few days per week and in the office a few days per week)
  2. Through flexible schedules so that employees could skip rush hour, and start and end the day at times that work for them

Other ways include highlighting the benefits of the office (for example, if every meeting is still on Zoom, people would rather be at home) and offering a phased return.

If none of that works, just go remote already.

 

How should you encourage employees to return to the office?

If most of your employees would rather work remotely (and your business is running well), then stay remote. That’s solution number one. If a return to the offie is still required, offer flexibility (hybrid work and flexible schedules) and up the in-office benefits.

 

When will banks return to the office?

Based on our research of the Fortune 100, banks have been the most likely and earliest to return to the office.

  • Morgan Stanley’s CEO wants a return to the office
  • Goldman Sachs returned on February 1, 2022
  • JPMorgan Chase returned on February 1, 2022
  • Bank of America returned on March 1, 2022
  • Wells Fargo returned on March 14, 2022

 

How do you feel about returning to the office?

The New York Times is looking to share stories from people returning to the office. If you’d like to share your story for a chance to be featured, visit this page.

 

News & Sentiment By Company

RTO by company

We’ve covered 10 notable return-to-office plans in depth. If you’d like to read about any of those in particular, click the links below:

We hope you find this article useful. Just so you know, Buildremote may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page to help keep this site running.

About the author

Henry OLoughlin

Hi, I'm the founder of Buildremote. I have worked from home for a decade and ran a fully remote, four-day work week company for eight years. I've made all of the mistakes running a distributed team. I hope if you read my work, you'll be spared.

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