The Hub For Return To Office News & Data

The Hub For Return To Office (RTO) News & Data

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

Return to the office news

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.

 

Every Fortune 100’s Return To Office Policy

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). Here are some notable return-to-office dates and polices from the Fortune 100.

  • Alphabet (Google): April 4, 2022 (Hybrid, three days per week in the office) – Google returned to the office in April of 2022 (after four cancelled dates) with a voluntary policy to work in a hybrid fashion for three days per week.
  • Amazon: Cancelled (No Return) – After two attempts to return to the office, Amazon cancelled its company-wide plan altogether. Instead, they passed the choice to managers to decide what’s best for their teams: remote, office, or hybrid.
  • Apple: April 11, 2022 (Hybrid, one day per week) – Apple has four cancelled RTO dates between June 2020 and May 2022. Apple finally returned to the office in April of 2022, but only with the expectation for employees to come in one day per week. The plan to have employees come in for three days per week has yet to be implemented.
  • Bank Of America: June 1, 2022 (Office-first) – Bank of America has the expectation for all employees to show up full time (five days per week).
  • Goldman Sachs: February 1, 2022 (Office-first) – Goldman Sachs has the expectation for all employees to show up full time (five days per week). However, on the RTO day only 5,000 of the 10,000 (50%) employees that work at New York City headquarters showed up.
  • JP Morgan Chase: February 1, 2022 (Hybrid, three days per week) – CEO Jamie Dimon had a hard stance against remote work. Yet on April 4, 2022 (after the bank’s official return to office in February), the CEO conceded that about 10% of employees are permitted to work remotely full time, about half must return to the office full time, and the remaining 40% can split their time.
  • Meta (Facebook): March 28, 2022 (Hybrid, 50% in-office expectations) – Meta has the expectation for workers to show up to the office 50% of the time. In June of 2021, however, Facebook declared that workers at all levels across the company can request to work remotely full-time after the pandemic.
  • Microsoft:February 28, 2022 (Hybrid, 50% in-office expectations) – Microsoft returned in February with a hybrid work policy that expected most employees to come into the office 50% of the time. On April 4, 2022 Microsoft made 50% attendance at the office mandatory.
  • Morgan Stanley: July 1, 2022 (Office-first) – Morgan Stanley returned to the office in February of 2022. In July of 2022, Morgan Stanley tightened restrictions on remote work by stating that sales people can no longer work more than 90 days per year from home (it’s unclear if the policy applies to employees outside of sales).
  • Wells Fargo: March 14, 2022 (Hybrid, three days per week) – After five delayed return-to-office dates, Wells Fargo officially got back into the office on March 14, 2022 with the expectation for employees to come in three days per week. Of the major US banks, Wells Fargo is the one that is most open to remote work.

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

Story

Remote Policy

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

"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."

Hybrid

Centene

71,300

Sublease/

Cancel

"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."

Partial

JPMorgan Chase

255,351

"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."

Office First

Wells Fargo

268,531

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

Hybrid

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

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."

Hybrid

Citigroup

210,153

Cancel

"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."

Hybrid

Allstate

42,010

Sell

"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."

Optional

Coca-Cola

80,300

Let Lease Expire

"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."

Hybrid

Lockheed Martin

114,000

Downsize

"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."

Hybrid

Boeing

141,000

Sell

"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.

Hybrid

McKesson

76,000

Cancel

"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."

Hybrid

Raytheon Technologies

181,000

"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."

Hybrid

Target

409,000

"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."

Partial

CVS Health

256,500

"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."

Hybrid

Oracle

135,000

Sublease

"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."

Hybrid

State Farm Insurance

57,582

Cancel

"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."

Hybrid

AT&T

230,760

Sublease

"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."

Hybrid

Liberty Mutual Insurance Group

45,000

Sublease

"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.'"

Optional

International Business Machines

364,800

Cancel

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.

Hybrid

Nationwide

25,391

"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."

Hybrid

Read the full chapter:
Every Major Company Reducing Office Space

 

Companies Delaying Return To Office

Companies Delaying Return To Office

As it currently stands, 56 of the Fortune 100 (56%) have some form of RTO delay… whether the delay is in the past, current, or ongoing. Here are the four types of delays that have landed these companies on the list:

  • Past delays: These companies have returned to the office in some way (you’ll see a date in the “RTO Date” column) but had delayed in the past (you’ll see dates in the “Postponements” column).
  • Yet to be determined: These companies previously worked in office spaces but have publicly announcement they do not have a formal return-to-office date. These companies have ongoing delays.
  • No return: These companies have announced they will never ask employees to return. They’ve likely switched to fully remote companies.
  • Unknown: These companies have RTO delays and currently have not announced a new date.

See the full list by clicking the chapter below.

Read the full chapter:
Companies Delaying Return To Office: Fortune 100 Analysis

 

Return To Office Quitting: By The Numbers

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

 

Why Are Companies Going Back To The Office?

Why are companies returning to office?

Through the previous chapters, we’ve laid out how many companies are going remote, others are trying to get employees to return to the office but facing pushback, and others still are seeing employees quit due to their RTO plan. It begs the question – why are companies going back to the office at all?

To me, there are four reasons companies are returning to the office:

  1. They have leases
  2. They own their office buildings
  3. They have outdated operating systems that are tied to office work
  4. The company’s income is tied to commercial real estate

In other words, companies are mainly suffering from the sunk-cost fallacy – they’ve invested in office space or office-first operating systems and refuse to give it up. But that’s just my take.

Click the chapter title below to read the full case and to see ideas from a number of people who answered the question.

Read the full chapter:
Why Are Companies Going Back To The Office?

 

Common Questions About Return To Office

Return to office questions

Here are number of common questions about the “return 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?

Or, click the chapter below to read all of the answers.

Read the full chapter:
Return To Office: 14 Timely Questions Answered

 

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 run a fully remote, four-day work week company for eight years. I've made all of the mistakes running a remote company. I hope if you read my site, you'll be spared.

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