Dell staff not alone in being squeezed to reduce remote work

3 in 5 workers getting strict orders to return to office and something is going to give

If some of you think management started to tighten the screws on return to office this year then you aren't alone – three in five workers say they are feeling the squeeze too.

Some 60 percent of 2,000 workers across the UK agreed with the statement: "In the past few months, my employer has become stricter about making sure staff come into the office," according to a survey by recruitment agency Randstad UK.

woman walks into office in brogues

Bosses face losing 'key' workers after forcing a return to office


Yet, as Atlassian, Nvidia, Dropbox, and analysts have pointed out in the past, mandating office work can weaken morale and hinder innovation, as employees who have grown used to the flexibility of remote working are questioning any productivity gains and are not happy about the time-suck of the daily commute.

Randstad UK found 54 percent of workers it surveyed described the option to work from home as "non-negotiable," and 55 percent said they'd quit rather than work more out of the office. Perhaps unsurprisingly, millennials and Generation Z workers had the strongest opinions about this.

"Organizations digging in and refusing to budge on remote working could face a great deal of pain as a result," said Victoria Short, CEO at the recruitment agency. "They need to keep that in mind when trying to attract and retain talent."

Reg readers, as we revealed recently, are mostly bucking the trend, according to a survey that was filled in by more than 5,000 of you. Despite this, many companies in the tech industry including Amazon, Google, Meta, IBM, Dell and many more are calling people back to their desks.

Under ideal circumstances, two and a half days in the week was favored by the respondents to the Randstad survey, with civil servants and telecommunication workers wanting to spend the least amount of time in the classic workplace setting. Most employees are demanding at least three days a week at home, it found.

Work life balance was also highlighted as being the most important factor for employees - something many in the tech industry struggle with, as evidenced by the burnout rates recorded in infosec and open source developer circles.

According to recruitment agency Robert Walters UK, a poll it ran showed that 27 percent of employers in professional services wanted staff to be at the desks more, yet 53 percent of staff said an official RTO policy would force them to look for another job.

Ben Litvinoff, associate director of technology at the agency, told The Reg: "Whilst there has definitely been more a shift towards working in office, this has all but stabilized at 3-4 days in office. So, employers expecting professionals to come into office 5 days a week are going to be faced with a very limited talent pool."

"In a similar sense, pure-remote work opportunities are very limited now – businesses in the early stages of expansion may be more open to candidates working fully remote – but many will have plans to localize teams later down the line."

Dell made a broad push to get workers back into the office at the start of this month, yet recent research from the University of Pittsburgh found no profitability benefits from such mandates, though they did make employees more miserable.

The tension comes from a so-called productivity paranoia that bosses have toward staff who are remote working: if they can't see them, they can't be sure they're doing what they are told. ®

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