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September 30, 2023

Nearly a Third of Workers Say They’d Quit Before Returning to the Office When All This Is Over

When the world abruptly turned upside down and drove everyone inside their homes last March, many (perhaps optimistically) thought it would end up being a very brief experiment in what happens when white-collar workers are forced to do their jobs remotely for a couple weeks. We know now “two weeks to flatten the curve” was just hopefulness intended mostly to keep everyone from freaking out, because “stay inside for at least a year” probably didn’t play well in marketing test groups for obvious reasons. Whatever you feel about how things played out, reality remains that all these months later the situation has actually gotten worse, and it seems we’re no closer to settling on a plan going forward.

Let’s take EY as an example. According to their original plan — which, to be fair, was based not on hopium intoxication but rather information we had at the time — many of their roughly 76,000 Americas people would be returning to the office this month. The official line was that EY Americas staff “would not be required to return to the office prior to January 2021,” but wouldn’t you know this Rona is a persistent little bugger so now they’re looking at April. Given how the year has already gone, just getting to April will be a miracle.

Maybe last spring we imagined a post-Rona future where everyone returned to work en masse once the danger passed and went back to business as usual as if nothing happened, but obviously that’s not how this plays out. Hybrid models will likely be more common, where working from home is an option but neither a requirement nor a detriment to the career trajectory of people who seek to please their work overlords.

Well the overlords might want to check the headlines because according to this recent survey, they might find themselves looking for new employees. USA Today reports:

Many companies plan to ask their employees to return to the office once a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available later this year.

Good luck with that.

Twenty-nine percent of working professionals say they would quit their jobs if they couldn’t continue working remotely, according to an online survey of 1,022 professionals by LiveCareer, an online resume and job search consulting service.

Forty-two percent of the U.S. workforce has been working from home full-time during the pandemic, according to a Stanford University study. Those teleworking are generally white-collar office workers who can perform their jobs with a phone and computer.

The survey underscores that at least some businesses and their workers may be on a collision course as life gradually returns to normal and employers start requiring staffers to come back to the mother ship. Sixty-one percent of the white-collar workers surveyed said they want their company to let them work remotely indefinitely, even after the pandemic is over, while 79% said their company plans to return to on-site work eventually.

Sentiment in the accounting industry seems split as far as we can tell. Some of you are loving the work-from-home life while others cannot wait to get back to the office, with the divide showing most between working parents and those without children. You can imagine why parents might be eager to get everyone back out there in the world.

For now though, maybe it would be a good time to work on your resume while we’re in a holding pattern waiting to see what happens with vaccine distribution, daily COVID numbers, and *gestures wildly* all this other stuff. Never a bad idea to have a Plan B should things not work out the way you want them to.

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  1. I hope this is the death knell for this ridiculous yet pervasive “ass in the uncomfortable office chair means working” mentality that exists in so many white-collar industries. They beat us down with that idiocy for far too long.

  2. Hell I quit my B4 gig this month not because of going back to the office but just the constant, around the clock, servitude expected of people with nothing in it for me. Busy season? The last 9 months have been busy season. With ZERO upside.

  3. I wonder how many people feel exactly the opposite. My office has an awesome culture, great work perks that we don’t get to take advantage of from home, the benefit of not driving does not outweigh the loss of the office life. I’ve considered quitting because my firm won’t allow me to come back.

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