What employees say will get them to return the office

March 29, 2023, 11:31 AM UTC
Two women look at a computer monitor, while one points at the screen.
Workers are willingly to go to the office to foster social connection.
Morse Images—Getty Images

Good morning! Paolo here, subbing in for Amber. 

Employees and employers are unlikely to ever fully agree on whether return-to-office mandates are a smart business move. But as companies move full speed ahead on RTO plans, workers contend that there are some aspects of the office they find valuable.

The top two reasons, according to a survey from market research company Gartner, are the ability to build relationships with colleagues and managers and collaborate with others, indicating that employees value social connection above anything else when they come to the office.

Employees also say they’d trek into the office to break up their routines, be seen by leadership, and learn from others. Reasons that, while slight variations of collaboration, are still social in nature rather than strictly functional. 

And yet, despite the apparent common ground between employers and employees, 60% of executives in a Gartner pulse survey say the main reason their employees cite for not coming to the office is the lack of a “compelling need.” That’s not because social connection is a weak motivating factor; rather, it’s been the victim of poor execution.

One way to solve that problem is to clarify when people should be in the office, says Caitlin Duffy, a director in Gartner’s HR practice. Few things are more frustrating for an employee than making an earnest effort to show up to the office—expecting camaraderie and teamwork—only to find their colleagues stayed home.

Learning events are another way to incentivize in-person attendance because employees will likely prefer live learning to a virtual marathon meeting, which is proven to be less effective. Plus, the collective nature of the event, combined with the slightly more informal setting, offers employees a chance to build the social connections they crave. 

The good news for executives eager to get employees back into the office is that employees are telling companies what they want from in-person work: collaboration. Now it’s up to them to make sure that happens. 

Paolo Confino

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Everything you need to know from Fortune.

Reviews are opportunities. Large employers like Google, Meta, and Amazon are toughening employee evaluations to weed out poor performers. —Paige McGlauflin

Disney’s job cuts. CEO Bob Iger informed employees Tuesday the company would lay off about 7,000 employees in three rounds of job cuts starting this week. —Chloe Taylor

New review, new me. Meta will add a mid-year review to its employee evaluations and lower the bonus multiplier from 85% to 65% for the second-lowest performance ranking. —Chris Morris

Remote work whisperer. Stanford economics professor and remote work expert Nick Bloom says Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing a decline in companies allowing remote work is flawed due to poorly worded survey questions. —Megan Leonhardt

This is the web version of CHRO Daily, a newsletter focusing on helping HR executives navigate the needs of the workplace. Today’s edition was curated by Paolo Confino. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

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