Is this the beginning of the end for work-from-home?

Big companies are demanding office time, new figures show staff are heading back

Is this the beginning of the end for work-from-home?

It has been an accepted “fact” that staff want to work from home – and that in today’s tough talent market we, as employers, have had to bend to that wish. But as time has gone on, and questions arise as to just how productive our staff are when away, so some big names have started insisting that staff return (at least some of the time) to the office.

Take Apple for example – in June last year CEO Tim Cook called remote working “The mother of all experiments.” Now, it looks like that experiment may be coming to a close. For a while the global tech giant has been pushing staff to attend the office at least three days a week, and just last week news broke that it was starting to track employee badges and giving escalating warnings to those not attending the workplace.

This year fellow tech giants Google, Tesla, Twitter and Amazon are also requiring attendance at the office. “When you’re in-person, people tend to be more engaged, observant, and attuned to what’s happening in the meetings and the cultural clues being communicated,” said Amazon CEO Andy Jassy to employees in an internal blog. Desk-based workers will have to return to the office at least three days a week from May 1 this year.

And after years of working from home due to the pandemic, the US Government’s own figures show that remote work is becoming less common in the United States. According to a report released by the Labor Department last week, 72.5% of business establishments reported that their employees rarely or never teleworked in 2022, up from 60.1% the previous year. The survey also revealed that around 21 million more workers were on-site full-time in 2022 than in the prior year.

Key Bureau of Labor Statistics Findings;

In August and September 2022, 27.5 percent of private-sector establishments (2.5 million) had employees teleworking some or all the time. July to September 2021 figures were 60.1 percent.

  • Information services 67.4%
  • Professional and business services 49%
  • Education 46%
  • Wholesale trade 39%

In August and September 2022, 27.5 percent of private-sector establishments (2.5 million) had employees teleworking some or all the time. 29.8 percent in 2021. 95.1% expect telework levels to remain the same for the next 6 months.

This trend marks a significant shift from the peak of the pandemic, when millions of Americans decamped from their offices and worksites to their basements and bedrooms to work remotely. Interestingly, the Labor Department found that the current figure is close to the percentage of establishments (76.7%) that had no remote workers before the pandemic hit and were open in February 2020.

In a Robert Half survey last year, 66% of managers wanted staff back on-site full time. The same survey, though, found that 50% of workers would quit and find a new job rather than be forced back to the office.

And while the great talent shortage does mean that your workers have a lot of power in the “where should I work” discussion, the mood is changing as we face a looming recession, and increased pressure for productivity and workforce reductions.

So which states have embraced work from home?

Percentage of respondents by state in which private companies rarely (or never) allow work from home

State

Percentage of establishments

Puerto Rico

87.7

Mississippi

87.5

North Dakota

83.5

Alabama

82.6

West Virginia

81.7

Louisiana

81.6

Oklahoma

81.3

Arkansas

81.1

Kentucky

80.2

Virgin Islands

80.1

Wyoming

79.8

Iowa

79.2

Nebraska

79.1

Missouri

77.7

Hawaii

77.1

South Dakota

76.9

Alaska

76.8

Kansas

76.3

Ohio

76.2

New Mexico

76.1

Michigan

75.3

Texas

75.2

New York

74.7

Montana

74.6

Wisconsin

74.6

Tennessee

74.5

Indiana

74.4

Idaho

73.6

Georgia

73.1

South Carolina

73.1

New Jersey

73.0

California

72.6

Total, U.S. private sector 2

72.5

Connecticut

72.2

Maine

71.9

Nevada

71.1

Virginia

70.6

Florida

69.7

Pennsylvania

69.6

Vermont

69.5

Illinois

68.9

North Carolina

68.8

Utah

68.8

Rhode Island

68.3

Oregon

68.0

Delaware

67.3

Minnesota

67.2

Maryland

66.3

Massachusetts

65.8

Washington

65.2

Arizona

65.1

New Hampshire

65.1

Colorado

63.7

District of Columbia

42.8

The same data by industry rather than state has no major surprises – hands on jobs, require hands to, well, be on as it were.

Industry

NAICS1

Percentage of establishments

Total, U.S. private sector 2

00

72.5

Natural resources and mining

11-21

92.1

Utilities

22

71.1

Construction

23

89.6

Manufacturing

31-33

75.9

Wholesale trade

42

61.0

Retail trade

44-45

89.0

Transportation and warehousing

48-49

86.3

Information

51

32.6

Financial activities

52-53

66.8

Professional and business services

54-56

51.0

Educational services

61

54.0

Health care and social assistance

62

77.1

Arts, entertainment, and recreation

71

77.0

Accommodation and food services

72

97.9

Other services, except public administration

81

79.7

Recent articles & video

What are the latest trends for resumes?

9 in 10 data breaches due to phishing attacks aimed at employees: survey

HSBC to roll out new bonus scheme for junior staff: reports

OECD logs record-low number of unemployed people in 2023

Most Read Articles

Stepping into comfort: Crocs’ CPO on transparency, collaboration and new generation on talent

Revealed: Top workplace trends according to TikTok, Google

What is HR’s role in managing M&As?