5 Reasons Your Staff Might Not Want to Return to the Office

The Steer Workplace team

The pandemic has probably triggered what has been lurking in the shadows for many years i.e. a need to break out from the rigidity of a system that allowed little autonomy in the way staff deliver their work. Otherwise, why would one-third of the employee population consider quitting their jobs if they are forced to return to working full time from the office?

In this article, we explore five of the most common reasons staff might be reluctant to return to the office.

1. “It’s Pointless”

Flexible and remote work has opened employees’ eyes to a world without a stressful commute, a world in which they can work in their own space, in clothes that they feel comfortable in, a world in which they can work uninterrupted by others.

Despite this, there are many types of work that do in fact run more smoothly from an office environment (and staff usually recognise this). This is especially true for certain collaborative projects. However, we have spoken to countless people who have made the trek into work, only to find that the colleagues they needed to collaborate with were working from home that day. An incredibly frustrating experience.

Providing transparency around which staff members are going to be working where and when is essential to getting employee buy-in about returning to the office.

An average of $4500 and 408 hours are saved per year when an employee works from home

2. Cost

A survey by U.S census Bureau revealed that an average of $4500 and 408 hours were saved per year when an employee works from home instead of visiting an office each day. This is before the cost of lunches, coffees and refreshments are taken into account.

To an employee, this feels like a sunk cost, almost an additional tax on working. Something that brings little enjoyment but is necessary to continue working.

This alone is reason enough to make employees want to be REALLY sure it is worth it before making the trip into the office.

3. Health & Safety is still a concern for many

COVID and the press surrounding it has increased the level of health-related anxiety amongst even the most blaise individuals. For those that are vulnerable, or for those who have close family that are at-risk, the concern is still high.

Even if not COVID, the cold and flu that the entire UK seems to be fighting off at the moment is enough to make people want to work in more isolated settings.

Going back to the office naturally raises transmission concerns. However, reducing personnel density by spreading out work schedules can considerably reduce the risk of transmission between workers, visitors and customers.  A fact that supports the continuation of remote or hybrid work practices.

56% of the respondents mentioned considering a new job that allows a more flexible working arrangement

4. Difficulty with balancing work and family, especially childcare

In a June 2021 survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes, 56% of the respondents mentioned considering a new job that allows a more flexible arrangement. 64% of these respondents are those who live with their children. These responses show that workers who are responsible for taking care of their children hold a stronger opinion in favor of hybrid work. It is most probably because of the simple explanation that the flexibility of hybrid work allows workers to cope with work and childcare responsibilities more easily.

The stress of being pulled between your loved ones and your work responsibilities can be extremely demotivating, with negative impacts on productivity. Allowing some non-judgmental flexibility and making the policies crystal clear, can result in far more productive, harder working and more loyal employees.

5. Lack of control

Remote work introduced workers to a whole new lifestyle that allowed them a greater sense of control. What to wear, where to work and who to interact with are all questions that were previously decided by the employer. With remote and hybrid work, workers can decide what to do with the time which was previously spent commuting, what to wear when they don’t have to follow a dress code, whether to work from home or a café and who to interact with besides family. Most employees may not be ready to let go of this sense of control that they have just gained over their lives.

It’s difficult sometimes to appreciate the impact of not even being allowed to choose the clothes that you wear, but the cumulative impact of these freedoms can be significant.


Aside from employing a hybrid work policy, there are ways to tackle each of the common objections above. Hopefully, by considering each, you will be able to create policies that mean that employees are able to thrive in whatever work environment you choose.

If you are interested in finding out how technology can help tackle these issues, visit Evac One and book a demo today.