Industry Insights

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WFH vs. RTO – Who Has More Leverage to Win this Battle?

November 17, 2022

This blog is contributed by Burtch Works’ Data Science recruiting team.Return to office (RTO) versus work from home (WFH) is proving to be a debate for the ages. Who will win this battle? Can leaders really get their employees to return to the office, or are candidates still in the driver’s seat?In most cases, return to office generally means being present in the office up to 4 days per week, but this can vary depending on other factors such as seniority, team dynamics or personal circumstances.We asked the Burtch Works network, including data scientists and analytics professionals, to choose from a variety of return to office scenarios that best reflects their unique situation. We wanted to see if our network has been requested to return to the office and their stance on the topic.We found that 46% of our total sample has either already returned to the office or has been given a deadline to return, this is higher than we anticipated.

Bring on the RTO!

  • 20% of the respondents have been back in office for months now
  • 2% of respondents are excited to go back in the office
  • 6% shared they are willing to go back but there better be some type of added perk (such as free food)

We found that nearly all respondents that have consistently been going to the office, are excited to return, or are willing to return for the added perks (such as the complementary lunches) are predominately mid-level and senior-level Individual Contributors (IC-2 & IC-3) and Managers (MG-2 & MG-3) ranging anywhere from 10-34 years of experience.We heard from a handful of respondents that they prefer to work from the office because they feel more productive. Managers mentioned that they find it “very difficult to manage those that are fully remote” and training, learning, and development can oftentimes become more challenging for entry or junior level professionals when done remotely.

No, thanks, I am not going back!

  • 11% of respondents shared that they are required to return to the office, but they do not want to, so they are now on the market in search for a new opportunity
  • 7% shared they are required to go back but have moved to a different state and it is not feasible for them to return to the office on any type of established cadence

In other words, 18% of our total sample has implied that they are now on the job market due to their organization’s RTO policies. We found that most of these respondents that are on the job market are early-career and mid-level individual contributors with about 2-8 years of experience. Interestingly, majority of the 7% of respondents that shared that they now reside in a different state are senior-level individual contributors and managers. It is not uncommon for senior leaders to be hired remotely – they have established reputations and oftentimes someone they have worked with previously will push for their hire at the new organization.

I am Ordering Myself a New Pair of Sweatpants!

  • 54% of our sample shared that nobody is talking about RTO at their company, and they have no plans of returning to an office any time soon

We found that there is no geographic bias when it came to a higher prevalence of remote working in certain areas regions of the country. The respondents range from early-career to senior-level professionals. Information technology (contrary to recent headlines), retail/e-commerce, and marketing services were among the most common industries in this sample. Conversely, banking and consulting were the least frequent industries to provide to remote working flexibility.“We were largely an in-office organization but have since become predominantly remote, with only a few team members regularly coming in”. Respondents that are parents with school-aged children mentioned that they find it much easier to work from home when coordinating school pick-ups/drop-offs. Others also expressed that “if [their] role can be done effectively from home, why should [they] be forced to return?”

It’s Hard to Say Who Will Win

For now, WFH and RTO continues to be a point of contention and we will continue to monitor this tug of war between upper management and their teams, it will be interesting to see if organizations are able to find a common ground.Thank you, as always, to everyone who has participated in our surveys or salary research over the years. We enjoy being able to share these insights with you, and it wouldn’t be possible without your help! Keep an eye on the blog for more updates, and feel free to reach out to us if you have thoughts for future research topics.