Can Employees Be Forced to Return to Offices

Are you used to working from home but now you’re required to come back to the office? Maybe you’re an employer that has mandated employees return to the office post-pandemic.

Either way as an employer you should be aware if you can force employees to work in the office or if you’re a remote worker know how you can try and maintain working at home.

office employee

For the most part, employees have become accustomed to such office culture and the flexible work revolution of working at home after the pandemic, and a survey conducted by FlexJobs in 2021, reports a staggering 65% of respondents revealed their unwavering desire to embrace the freedom of full-time remote work. It was revealed that 58% of respondents are ready to hit the job market if they can’t continue working remotely post-pandemic. And guess what? Remote work snagged the silver medal for the most valued employee benefit, right after the ever-important salary. With companies struggling to find the perfect recruits, it’s crystal clear that flexibility is the key to winning over top talent.

According to another recent survey by Workhuman, as part of the company culture, 48.8% of workers are planning to return to the office full-time. However, there has been significant criticism regarding the idea of returning to the office, either full-time or part-time, particularly due to the rise in gas prices which greatly impacts commuting costs.

A major change over the past few years is fully remote work has grown, and compared to pre-pandemic, remote work policies have become the norm. From consulting firms to law firms, businesses made it possible to work remotely, but times are changing post-pandemic shutdown.

For the most part employees, corporate workers as well as corporate employees, and many company leaders, senior leaders, business leaders, vice presidents of companies, and managers agree remote work is beneficial and productive, and many want to continue the practice of a remote environment during regular business operations.

Job Market

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the job market has slowed down, but there is still high demand for employees. Additionally, companies now have more options available to them that provide substantial flexibility. Working in a remote environment is still on the rise and FlexJobs reported a whopping 22% increase in remote job opportunities from the second half of 2021 to the first half of 2022. Big names like 3M, Airbnb, and Reddit are now jumping on the remote work bandwagon and making it a permanent option for their employees.

Keep in mind companies vary in their preferences for the number of days employees should be in the office, taking into account competitive factors. Human resources professionals suggest that if one company lacks flexibility, there may be alternative options available especially if there are health conditions as this would be a reasonable accommodation.

Have a Conversation

Whether it’s remote work, a part-time schedule, flexible hours, or something unique, embrace the opportunity to negotiate with your boss to find the perfect balance!

If a company is resistant to negotiation, don’t fret! There are other solutions out there, like exploring different positions within the company that offer the sweet perk of working remotely. Don’t be afraid to as for an accommodation request if you’re an employee wanting to stay remote. You can also seek out a career strategist if you need any kind f advice or legal advice.

A recent survey found that 67% of U.S. workers prefer internal job transfers instead of ditching their current company. So, there’s a good chance this idea could be a game-changer for you if you’re seeking a virtual environment!

Or, if the company is taking a phased approach to bringing employees back into the office, you can request to be one of the last groups which will give your company more time to see what is and isn’t working – and provide you more time to negotiate

Amid changing workplace trends due to the direct correlation of the COVID-19 shutdown and the COVID-19 global pandemic, more companies are open to remote work and workers should feel comfortable discussing it with their managers. While there once was a reluctance to have a conversation such as this, the pandemic changed that.

It appears many companies and corporate leaders have changed their minds about having employees back in the office five days a week. So, before you sit down for a chat with your boss, make sure you’ve done your homework on your worth in the job market and the exciting possibilities that lie beyond your current company.

Focus on the Benefits

To secure that sweet, sweet flexibility, make sure you come armed with concrete evidence when you approach your boss. Highlight your XX-year tenure with the company and your exceptional productivity, even when working remotely. If the long commute is a problem, mention how having extra work time each day will be beneficial.


To have a more flexible work week, employees must prove they can maintain or increase their productivity and explain how the workplace environment contributes to their results.

Don’t just think it, ink it! When it comes to requesting to work remotely, a simple written proposal can make all the difference. Not only does it add a touch of professionalism, but it also proves that you’ve invested time and effort into crafting your request. So go ahead, grab that pen, and let your words work their magic.

Be Prepared for No

Some employers may be open to flexibility, but not all companies. The decision can vary based on the industry and job position within the organization. For example, experts say it is not advisable to insist on having IT staff work in the office full-time.

Requesting for increased flexibility is generally more advisable than disregarding company policies, but if a company is unwilling to negotiate, employees may need to consider alternative options.

An employee must grasp the possibility of rejection and be ready to take their leave if flexibility truly holds the key. 

Most Prefer a Gentle Request

Bringing employees back to the office is proving to be a costly mistake for many companies, as a recent report revealed that a staggering 42% of employers who implemented this policy ended up losing more employees than anticipated.

Unlike Salesforce, which is trying to lure workers back to the office with a charitable donation each time staffers leave the comfort of deep piles and slippers for sensible brogues and antistatic carpets, a full 70 percent of respondents replying to workplace consultant Unispace ‘s survey said they’d forced returns to the office via a mandate rather than dropping heavy hints or providing incentives.

The shocking truth? Not only did 42% of people admit that “attrition” was higher than ever, but a jaw-dropping 21% of those forcing employees back into the office lost some of their most valuable team members. And that’s not all: The survey revealed that a whopping 1/3 (that’s 33%) of companies who made office returns mandatory are now in a desperate battle to recruit new talent.

It is interesting to consider the reasons behind the push for employees to return ranging from more sales to businesses reporting an increase in their real estate portfolio in recent years, contrary to the previous plan of decreasing office space.

In Conclusion

Whether you’re an employer enforcing employees to work in the office rather than at home or an employee who has gotten used to working in sweat, both parties need to consider how to move forward and what is best for both parties.

Bottom line: Forcing employees to come back to the office seems to be a trend as there’s an increased number of companies requiring employees to be in the office for a specific number of days each week.

Said employers appear to be committed to enforcing the policy, although workers seeking more flexibility may have the opportunity to negotiate. Alternatively, they have the option to resign and find another job, or in the case of being an employer, looking for new talent, combinations of talent or to develop culture through values.

Do you have questions about anything workplace-related? Thinking of changing careers? Explore the capabilities of Search Masters to find your ideal candidate or utilize our online resources and tools to assist in discovering your dream career.

If you’re experiencing difficulty with recruiting, consider reaching out to Search Masters for aid. Our team of experts is equipped to assist you in finding the best candidates for your company or securing the top employment opportunities available.

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