Working Conversations Episode 96:

The Tug-of-War Between WFH and RTO

Would you rather work from home or return to the office?

After almost three years when the world of work was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, where many implemented lockdowns, leading to widespread remote work and business closures, the tug-of-war between WFH and RTO is still a subject of debate for most of the companies in the country now that the pandemic is almost over.

Companies such as Morgan Stanley, AT&T, Disney, and Apple have recently called their workers back to the office on a structured schedule. Meanwhile, Vanguard, an investment management company, is going so far as threatening their workers if they don’t comply with RTO mandates.

In an ADP survey of 32, 000 employees, employees don’t share the same sentiment. 64% said they have or would consider looking for a new job if their employer wanted them to return to the office full-time.

It’s worth noting that both WFH and RTO have their pros and cons, and the decision on which is best for each employee will vary based on personal circumstances.

Each company has also their specific reasons why they want people to return to the office setup, such as the nature of the business, the type of work being performed, and the company’s overall goals and priorities.

In my work as a future of work speaker, I delve into my fourth prediction in the world of work in 2023 for this episode.

I offer a deeper look at the current tug-of-war going on between those who want to work from home and those who are starting to require employees to return to the office. I also review the main reasons for both camps, noting that there are varied and nuanced reasons for both.

Here’s what I can confidently predict: (1) If the threats of a recession do materialize, workers’ will hold far less power in determining the fate of where they will work.  Employers will definitely have the upper hand. At least for a while. (2) As the labor shortage worsens as the population of eligible workers declines, the workers will hold the upper hand. 

And so my final stand on this issue is that the tug of war will continue. 

Listen and catch the full episode here or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also watch it and replay it on my YouTube channel, JanelAndersonPhD.

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