Several large corporations are mandating white-collar workers to return to offices starting after Labor Day or, in many cases, right now.
Abbott Laboratories wants virtually all U.S. office workers back at its Chicago headquarters this month; in Pontiac, Michigan, United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) already has brought almost all 9,300 employees back to its 200-acre campus.
As we had noted, Goldman Sachs ordered staffers back to its Manhattan office last month.
Working from home is not a new normal but instead “is an aberration that we’re going to correct as soon as possible,” CEO David Solomon said in February comments cited by the Wall Street Journal.
Employers say their companies work better and are more easily managed when workers congregate in one place.
“I have never wavered on this,” UWM CEO Mat Ishbia told the WSJ. “We are better together.”
The company’s employees have made few complaints about returning, he noted.
Many firms are delaying a summons back to the office for fear of employee revolts, mass resignations, or until other executives make the first move, Ishbia added.
“They don’t want to make a decision,” he said. “When you’re the leader, you actually have to make a decision.”
However, at least 40 percent of workers want the flexibility to be at home at least two or three days a week, several polls have shown.
“People already are saying, ‘You want me back [at the office full-time]? I quit’,” Mark Ein, CEO of Kastle Systems, which monitors swipe card usage, said to the WSJ.
About 40 percent of office workers will consider quitting their jobs if their bosses demand they be in a central office full-time, a University of Chicago study found.
As of June, most employers the study contacted were planning to offer workers one day a week at home, while workers want two or three.
About a third of office workers nationally are back in their offices, according to Kastle data, with about half in place in Houston and only about 25 percent in New York and San Francisco.
The decision about where employees work depends largely on a company’s culture, the WSJ pointed out.
Tech companies, which tend to be more free-wheeling, have been more flexible.
Amazon now allows office workers two days at home every week, Coinbase calls itself a “remote-first company” that maintains offices but doesn’t force workers to be there, and Facebook has announced that all workers can work remotely as much as they like.
About a quarter of the workers at Fastly, a San Francisco software firm, have moved too far away to commute every day but have agreed to travel to the city occasionally, CEO Joshua Bixby told the WSJ.
Forcing workers to spend every workday at a central location will breed worker unrest, he warned.
“Everyone’s going back to their commutes because they’re being forced to by some employers and then they’re going to realize a deep sense of unhappiness,” Bixby said.
“For people who lose one, two, three hours of their lives every day” dressing for work and commuting, “they’re now going to stop and say, ‘Why am I doing this?,” he added.
TREND FORECAST: Having tasted the freedom of working from home, workers will lobby for flexibility. Employers will find a way to accommodate those requests for fear of losing talent to more open-minded competitors.
Moreover, business travel will also suffer as vaccine passports are required and, as evidenced in this and previous Trends Journals, nations impose border controls that ban/quarantine foreign visitors. 
And while many businesses want their employees to return to work, as we have been reporting, others are saving more money by having them work at home by dramatically cutting back on their office rental spaces. 

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