More Companies Requiring a Return to Office in 2023

Washington, DC, January 3, 2023-"Companies including investment giant Vanguard Group, workplace technology company Paycom Software Inc. and others have sent directives to employees in recent weeks, urging workers to follow existing hybrid schedules or to come into the office on additional days in 2023, according to internal memos viewed by The Wall Street Journal and interviews with employees. In some cases, bosses have told those who fail to comply that they could face termination within weeks.”

“Employees at some companies have challenged new directives in corporate all-hands sessions. Those pushing to remain at home say they find in-office work unproductive and commuting inefficient. Employers, meanwhile, say bringing workers back together is important because it helps with issues such as problem solving, training new hires and reinforcing corporate culture.

“‘There’s a little bit of a tug of war going on right now,’ said David Garfield, global head of industries at consulting firm AlixPartners, who has worked with executives on how to approach return-to-office discussions. ‘Employers are not having an easy time of it.’

“For much of the pandemic, companies took a fairly soft approach to policy enforcement, fearful that too rigid a stance on in-office work could harm morale or lead to turnover, executives and advisers said. Although companies set office policies, some managers largely allowed workers to ignore them, workers and human-resources executives say. The average office occupancy in 10 major U.S. cities remained below 50% for much of 2022, according to data from security firm Kastle Systems.

“As the job market shifts under threat of a recession, employees’ leverage over companies may be slipping, human-resources advisers say, empowering bosses to push for changes in work styles. 

“Surveys have shown that most employees are willing to work in an office at least a few days a week, and many workers say they see benefits of being in an office. Some employers say enforcing the rules is a matter of fairness to the workers who have been complying.”