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More Employers Tell Employees: Back to the Office in 2023

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Jan 3, 2023


More employers are requiring their employees to return to the office, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing internal memos and interviews with employees.

Some employers are threatening noncompliant employees with termination. Employees remain resistant in some cases, the Journal reported, saying that in-office work is unproductive, despite employers’ insisting otherwise.

“There’s a little bit of a tug of war going on right now,” David Garfield of consulting firm AlixPartners, who has worked with executives on return-to-office discussions, told the Journal. “Employers are not having an easy time of it.”

With employers concerned about morale and turnover, many did not enforce return-to-office policies, but that may be changing in the face of a potential recession and a consequent loss of leverage by employees wanting to remain out of the office.

While workers want the flexibility to set their hours, and many see the benefits of being in the office, employers see this as a fairness issue.

“Uneven and inconsistent adoption has created inequities in how the [hybrid] model is applied and has made it difficult to realize the benefits of in-person learning, collaboration and connection,” according to a Vanguard Group office memo viewed by the Journal. Some Vanguard employees said that they were told that if they did not comply with the company’s directive to work in the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, they could face termination and receive no severance.

Many companies are also returning to a fully in-person work policy. Paycom Software of Oklahoma City will require some employees to work five days a week in the office and, so far almost 80 percent are. Goldman Sachs’s offices are almost back to pre-pandemic levels, the Journal reported, and job candidates at LifePro Financial Services in San Diego are told that jobs are fully in-office.

LifePro’s CEO, Heather Ulz, told the Journal that there were consequences to the policy; one third of her employees quit, and it takes longer to fill vacancies, as some candidates still prefer hybrid or remote arrangements. She told the Journal that the firm’s culture and camaraderie are improved by in-person work.