Work from home survey shows most employees suspect senior management wants them back at their desks


Workers think the boss wants them back in their cubicles—and they're not excited about the idea.

According to a new study by YouGov and researchers at King’s College London, 56% of people working in London thought senior management wanted more employees to come into the workplace more often. Just 16% said they didn’t believe this was the case.

The researchers surveyed 2,015 London workers over the age of 16 between March and April this year.

Six in 10 people working in the U.K. capital said they were now hybrid working — defined as working from home at least one day a week and being in the office fewer than five days a week — and three-quarters of the survey respondents said they thought society would never return to the pre-pandemic way of working, where workers came into the office full time.

“The pandemic has created a palpable shift in perceptions about the acceptability of remote working,” Dr. Amanda Jones, a lecturer in organizational behavior and human resource management at King’s Business School, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Only 10% of those surveyed said they believed we would eventually return to being in the workplace five days a week.

WFH positive

Ample majorities of those polled liked working from home—and thought they worked just as hard.

Almost 80% of those who said they worked from home at least one day a week said it had had a positive impact on their lives, with avoiding the daily commute seen as the biggest benefit of remote working.

The ability to better manage home and social responsibilities were also cited as a benefit of working from home by the majority of participants.

“Many more people now have experience of working remotely, organizations and individuals have invested heavily in equipment and training, and those forced to work remotely during the lockdowns have developed remote working strategies," Dr. Jones said. "Consequently, many more people not only have the capacity to work remotely but consider it to be a normal, rather than exceptional and potentially stigmatizing, practice.”

Indeed, two-thirds of workers said they did not agree that people who worked from home didn’t work as hard as those in the office (only 16% of people said they believed remote workers were not as hard-working).

Even those further up the chain of command seemed to agree, with around 60% of senior managers rejecting the idea that home working meant working less hard.

Office is not so bad, but...

Despite enjoying WFH arrangements, London's workers didn't so much dislike working in the office as much as they wanted to keep it to a minimum.

More than half said they liked working from their office in the capital, with being able to see colleagues in person a top reason for enjoying going to work. And only 13% of people said they found it difficult to work in the office — costs and lengthy commutes were given as reasons for their struggling.

However, only 16% of London workers said they would feel positive about being forced to work more days each week in the office, while 58% said they would feel negative about such a requirement.

People were divided on whether working from home policies threatened the future of jobs in London, with 38% disagreeing that this would be the case and 35% agreeing.

Office mandates

Amid the popularity of working from home, many companies are struggling to encourage, or even mandate, employees to return to the office more regularly.

A recent survey found that 76% of Apple employees are unhappy with the tech giant’s return-to-office policy, which requires corporate workers to be in the office once a week.

Meanwhile, only around half of Goldman Sachs employees showed up to work at the company’s Manhattan headquarters when the office reopened in March, despite CEO David Solomon’s famous belief that remote work is “an aberration that we’re going to correct as quickly as possible.” 

Last week, a leaked email revealed that Elon Musk had told Tesla’s white-collar employees they must return to the office full-time or leave the company. In May, a British law firm told Fortune its workers who opted to work remotely full-time would see their pay cut by 20%

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