Almost Half of Workers Would Consider Quitting Rather Than Return to the Office

Respondents to survey stated that office environments caused stress and anxiety, and commuting was expensive.

Over 40% of employees would consider quitting their jobs if a full-time return to the office (RTO) was made mandatory. That’s according to a new study of over 1,000 UK workers.

With 92% of companies enforcing some kind of in-office policy and some high profile examples that have sought to end remote work altogether, the survey found that nearly a quarter of respondents would strongly consider leaving if full-time RTO was forced on them.

The negative impact office work has on finances, mental health, diet, fitness levels and the work/life balance were cited as the primary reasons why an element of home work is preferred by many.

TKO for RTO?

The survey of 1,001 workers was carried out by eLearning company Skillshub to “discover how RTO is impacting UK employees, across positives and negatives”.

The results showed that 42.6% of respondents would consider quitting their job if their employer made full-time RTO mandatory. Over half of those people – 22.7% of all respondents – said they would “strongly consider” quitting under those circumstances.

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18% would potentially leave if hybrid working with three days or more in the office was made mandatory, with 14.6% in that boat if any time in the office at all was required.

“RTO (return to work) is on the rise, with 2023 being named the ‘Year of the Great Office Return’, where 92% of companies enforced some sort of mandatory in-office policy. This has further continued into 2024.” – Skillshub

The Negatives (and Positives) of Office Work

The survey also asked respondents what they most disliked about working in the office, as well as what they valued in it most.

The affect of office working on finances was cited by almost a quarter of respondents as a negative impact, with 22.5% concerned about the additional expenses it creates, such as commuting and buying lunch.

Notably, 19.7% said that working in an office environment causes stress and anxiety. While 19.5% said it negatively impacts their diet, 17.4% their work/life balance and 16.1% their fitness levels.

To the contrary, mental health was the most popular answer to the question of how office work can positively impact employees – 31.3% thought so. 22.6% said social aspects with colleagues is a plus, with 19.5% saying physical health, 12.8% productivity levels and 11.3% career progression and work opportunities.

Skillshub says that the results they saw from the different genders was largely similar, except when it came to the question of productivity. 13.5% of male respondents said that their productivity is positively affected by office work, while only 12.1% of women said the same.

Companies Having to Adapt

Clearly, the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic and its affect on working environments continues to be felt. Companies that adopted working from home policies at that time continue to tread on eggshells in ending fully remote work.

Only last week, it was reported that staff at tech manufacturer Dell had responded apathetically to the company’s aggressive RTO policies. Allegedly 50% of its US employees continue to eschew full-time office hours, even when warned with a pause on promotions.

Another recent study suggests that two-fifths of jobseekers in Europe would refuse an otherwise attractive offer if the employer didn’t give the option for remote or hybrid working.

On average, US workers work 2.2 days per week from home, according to 2024’s Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes carried out by WFH Research.

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Written by:
Now a freelance writer, Adam is a journalist with over 10 years experience – getting his start at UK consumer publication Which?, before working across titles such as TechRadar, Tom's Guide and What Hi-Fi with Future Plc. From VPNs and antivirus software to cricket and film, investigations and research to reviews and how-to guides; Adam brings a vast array of experience and interests to his writing.
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