Study finds 1/4 of bosses hoped Return to Office would make staff quit ( )

HR software biz BambooHR surveyed more than 1,500 employees, a third of whom work in HR. The findings suggest the return to office movement has been a poorly-executed failure, but one particular figure stands out - a quarter of executives and a fifth of HR professionals hoped RTO mandates would result in staff leaving.

According to the report, most employees working remotely and in-person both feel the need to demonstrate productivity, which for more than a third of employees means being seen socializing and moving around the office. That intense need to be visible may actually be harming productivity, study author and BambooHR's own head of HR Anita Grantham concluded in her findings.

A full 42 percent of employees who responded to the Bamboo survey said they show up solely to be seen by bosses and managers. If bosses think their presence in the office is making any difference to the amount of work getting done, the results indicate that's not the case.

fne8w2ah ,

They want "disloyal" staff to just quit by stealth?

cybersandwich ,

I know this is on the 'work reform' community so I understand most of the comments have that 'bent' to them. I appreciate that.

And I dont want to legitimize giant corporations doing shitty things to employees, so I hope it doesn't come across as defending that behavior.

BUuuuuuttttt, I understand why and how this happens. Lets say hypothetically, you are in a big company or even a public sector/gov't organization. You've moved to remote work across the board. That's awesome!

Now imagine if you had a team that is struggling with competing priorities and limited resources. But you also have 3-4 people on that team that could have retired years ago, but they haven't. Why? Because they can just fucking mail-it-in at home and do little or nothing. As a manager that's overworked yourself, starting the "removal" paperwork process, especially on a public sector employee or an employee at a large company, is daunting. That can be a full-time job in and of itself. Now, multiply that x3 or 4 because you don't just have one employee doing this. That's going to be brutal.

What's a much easier option? RTO. Is it a sure-fire way to get those 3 or 4 to retire? No, they might just come in and be lazy in the office, but there is a good chance that commute, parking expense, extra time away from their family is going to push them over the edge.

There are absolutely, without a doubt, people abusing remote work. RTO is a 'lazy' but semi-understandable way for managers to drive some of those bad apples away. At least in theory. The article suggests not all do.

From my own anecdotal evidence, when people started returning to office, the retirements went up and people moved around more. This freed up positions and let organizations, who were stagnate, grow and promote people.

The down side is: some of your top talent will leave if they get caught up in the RTO mandates.

Habahnow ,

I'm sorry but this seems very illogical. You're saying that, as a company thats fully remote, its easier to get the WHOLE COMPANY back into the office than it is to do the paperwork to remove a handful of bad employees, while risking losing some of your better employees??

jorp ,

I totally get it and my solution is very similar, see to me going to the office feels like a lot of work but I want to keep my job obviously and so obviously what I intend to do is set fire to the office building so none of us can go back to the office even if we wanted to.

nova ,

Let me get this straight. You want everyone's working conditions to be worse so some people wil choose to retire? Why stop there then? Dock everyone's pay, reduce vacation time, force people to work over weekends - that will REALLY drive up the people retiring!

StaySquared ,

That's not what happened in many orgs in California. If you didn't RTO, you were terminated.

Sam_Bass ,

Didnt make them quit, so..

some_guy ,

Businesses were over-extended by low-interest rate loans, so this isn't a surprise.

Coreidan ,

Study shows more than 1/4 of bosses are morons that know nothing about how shit works.

chonglibloodsport ,

The office is the principal-agent problem in spades. Even if your manager is a technical person they don’t necessarily understand all the details of what you’re working on: that’s what they pay you for.

This problem is pervasive throughout society. How many people can hire a dentist, a car mechanic, a plumber, or any of countless other specialists and fully understand what the person is doing so that they don’t get ripped off?

dustyData ,

Uh, welcome to society, I guess. That's not a “problem with society”, that's just society. It's what being human is about, developing meaningful relationships with other humans. The actual problem is that we have put in place barriers and obstacles to make us even more isolated and less integrated, thus stripping ourselves off of the social strategies and mechanisms that reduce risks on that principal-agent problem. It is way harder for your car mechanic to rip you off when they are also your neighbor and life long friend. If they defraud you, you can ruin their reputation in the community and thus make them unable to acquire any more jobs in that community. The might also feel an emotional moral compulsion to not hurt you, and vice-versa, for you to fulfill a just payment.

chonglibloodsport ,

I’m skeptical of the claim that an average person has the power to ruin someone’s reputation as a punishment for wrongdoing. Our society is large and extremely anonymous. People can easily pick up and move to another town, if that’s even necessary at all.

Generally I think the only people whose reputation gets damaged severely enough to follow them around for the rest of their life are public figures or infamous criminals such as murderers and rapists.

I personally have been ripped off quite severely by an unscrupulous HVAC company and I don’t see much recourse. I could try to damage their reputation but then they could sue me for libel. I think their unscrupulous behaviour is likely protected by the enormous contracts they make their customers sign and the government gives them the power to have your natural gas supply shut off if you refuse a costly repair they deem necessary.

dustyData ,

I’m skeptical of the claim that an average person has the power to ruin someone’s reputation as a punishment for wrongdoing.

If you read my comment, you'll realize that it is explicitly in the context of a small tightly knit community. If they decide to leave the community, then that's a win for the community, now we don't have to deal with the bad actor anymore.

Our society is large and extremely anonymous

If you pay close attention, that was exactly my comment. That is the problem with our current society, not the principal/agent problem. That is just a society. We evolved in a world where you hardly had to keep up with a handful of individuals, maybe meet less than 500 people your entire life. We are not fit for a world with 8 billion+ of us and you can potentially interact with millions of them directly with a tiny glass device in your pocket. That is not something we are good at. We are good at forming strong bonds and meaning relationships with a handful of people who you can sort of trust almost completely at all times, and they will in turn relay you information about who amongst the strangers to trust or not. It is the fundamental basis of gossip.

nifty , avatar

an average person has the power to ruin someone’s reputation as a punishment for wrongdoing

Office bullying relies on this to a large extent, it happens all the time

GBU_28 ,

Why's that? Lots of people DID quit due to this. They knew it was a free way to get reduced headcount without needing to do layoffs, thus avoiding the negative publicity.

Then they can rehire people for cheaper, with explicit in office / hybrid contract terms

doggle ,

They're referring to the other 3/4 of managers & hr who responded that they didn't want employees to leave because of return to office policies.

They, apparently, genuinely believed that rto would have some tangible benefits, or were just trying to make their employees lives harder for a laugh, and didn't expect it to affect headcount at all.

cuck4mai , avatar

The study must be flawed, that number is way too low.

Raiderkev ,

Probably more than 3/4 tbh

aramis87 ,

I had a friend who made a point of "needing" to go into the office an average of one day every week during the pandemic. His logic was that, if his job could be done entirely from the comfort of his living room in the suburbs, eventually the bosses would realize that it could also be done entirely from the comfort of someone else's living room in the Philippines or India.

bstix ,

It's a valid point.

Most practical examples of out-sourcing has however failed to show any worthwhile savings, while working from home has shown remarkable increases in productivity.

SlopppyEngineer ,

Other time zones and that makes communication difficult, so no quick IM with "by the end of the day" as that means something different over there. Different culture and way of doing things, so have to spend a lot more effort in communication being very clear. Even then they're far away where it's a lot easier to hide stuff until the hole is very deep. Travel expenses going up very quickly for a little training for a new guy. It can be so fun to work with teams in a different continent.

Grandwolf319 ,

Besides that, you also get what you paid for.

Hiring someone in India means that the person is gonna give you as much dedication as their wage will allow. If they produced top of the line stuff they would want close to top of the line compensation.

InternetCitizen2 ,

Is it valid? If they could outsource they already would have. They already have with heavy industry.

some_guy ,

Perhaps true with office work (so many tales of people saying they got shit code from overseas developers) and such, but I think the savings were very real for manufacturing, at least for a period of time. Happy to be corrected if that's wrong.

Kit ,

His fears happened to me. I worked a fully remote job for 5 years and ended up getting a horrible boss who worked me insane hours and liked to remind me that he could replace me with someone in India for 1/10th my salary.

I left and got a hybrid job that is 2 days in office. It pays 50% more, has a free gym, free EV charging, 30 days of vacation, and better health insurance. And I have a niche specialty so they won't be able to replace me easily. Feels much more secure.

trolololol ,

Fuck your ex boss. What a horrible person!

Coreidan ,

Ya but work quality from India and Philippines is pretty bad. They aren’t equal.

Dkarma ,

The bosses don't care when 3 of them cost the same as 1 of u

Coreidan ,

Some do. The ones that don’t are garbage companies not worth the time to begin with. It depends heavily on the type of work you do. If your company can squeak by with shit quality work, then you probably don’t belong there to begin with.

Grandwolf319 ,

You’re assuming 3 of them produce 33% or more compared to me.

In my experience, the math doesn’t add up and you just get what you paid for

padge ,

My company has a large presence in India and exclusively hires there now as far as I know, but I will concede that the employees from there are very good in general. They're actual employees though, not contractors. And there are a lot of issues that arise from the language barrier, timezones, management etc

Blackmist ,

The recent AI LLM goldrush has shown that things don't need to be good to be used.

If it makes the line go up, no matter how short term it is, it gets done.

Grandwolf319 ,

It has also showed when things aren’t good and are used, users notice slowly, but the trust is gone for a long while.

djsoren19 ,

Yeah but they still haven't found a way to assign a monetary value to consumer trust, so it doesn't show up on the spreadsheets that are used to make decisuons. Only thing that matters is line go up, shareholders can always find a different company to squeeze later.

Grandwolf319 ,

There is no value for trust, there is just a negative value for mistrust. Once it goes to 0, line go down.

HobbitFoot ,

That's why you don't fire the whole department, just implement a hiring freeze while your US staff train the Indian and Filipino staff.

Eezyville , avatar

While the work could be outsourced to foreign countries there is still some hurdles to overcome. Language barriers, cultural barriers, time zones, labor laws, the paperwork involved with taxes, worker reliability, the threat of scams (see N. Korea), etc. But hey, let them find out for themselves.

GrindingGears ,

Quality issues alone are a major disincentive to outsourcing.

trolololol ,

It was never a barrier to cost savings

jorp ,

This makes no sense. What could possibly be in the office that's needed AND can't be purchased in the Philippines? Is your friend working for a government agency building military or spy equipment which can't be shipped overseas?

granolabar ,

The moment boss man can do this, is the moment it will do it... your friend does not understand what game he is playing. It is rather sad for adult people to think like this but here we are.

eskimofry ,

So scumbag execs can collect bonus for reduced cost and jump ship with their golden parachutes.

FenrirIII , avatar

And the people left behind have to deal with the shitstorm

HexesofVexes ,

Yup - the reason most folks "go in" is to be seen, rarely to get things done. The only genuine reason to go in is if you need to talk to a lot of people.

AnalogyAddict ,

I go in so I can find people who will eat my baked goods.

bravesilvernest , avatar

I go in to eat said baked goods ❤️

blanketswithsmallpox ,

I go in to eat all the pussy and dick I can find.

walter_wiggles ,

Where do you work? I'll start coming in too.

lightnsfw ,

I am wildly unproductive when I WFH. I literally cannot focus on work tasks when I have so many more interesting things available to me to do. I’ve tried everything to make myself focus but the best I can do is maybe 3/4 hours of the day interrupted by doom scrolling or messing around on my personal desktop. My coworkers all WFH as well and seem to have no issues getting their stuff done so I’d never argue that WFH is bad for everyone but for me personally it is. I need the structure of going in the office. Thankfully my job gives us the choice.

prole , avatar

Have you tried taking your laptop to a library or coffee shop or something?

lightnsfw ,

Sort of. I have to go on site to different locations we support sometimes and I will post up in a out of the way corner and do some work while I'm waiting on a local tech or something. Never had a issue concentrating then. It's kind of a pain to work off only one laptop screen though with what I'm usually doing.

Dagwood222 ,

Get a different job.

For years I thought I just hated working. After I was injured at work and had some off time, I picked up a book called "Discover What You Are Best At" by Linda Gail. It helped me assess my strengths and pointed me to a job I actually enjoyed doing.

shrugs ,

Don't leave us hanging. what was your job before and after?

Dagwood222 ,

It doesn't matter.

The point is that there are thousands of jobs out there that I never even considered.

Also, when I took the test I found that the job I was least suited for [clerk] was the one I'd always looked for because it seemed easy.

We don't know ourselves.

lightnsfw ,

I'd like to do something outdoors but I can't find a job like that which pays enough and doesn't require a totally different education. I'm not even able to afford the things I want on the salary I have now.

Dagwood222 ,

Get the book. When I got it I'd never considered the career I got. There are jobs out there you never heard of.

lightnsfw ,

I'm going to look it up. Thanks for the suggestion.

Dagwood222 ,

Good luck.

b3an , avatar

I have the opposite problem. When I work at the office so much time is spent 'harmonizing' with the other workers, I get a lot less done on those days than if I had worked from home and was able to focus on my tasks.

But some people can also listen to heavy metal while working, whereas I prefer silence. 😁

Coreidan ,

Your problem is a severe lack of discipline. If you need someone watching over your shoulder and putting pressure on you in order to get work done then you have a big discipline problem.

For me it’s about getting the job done. If I don’t get the job done then I’ve shown my employers that I am useless and I lose my job.

Keeping my job is about as much pressure as I need in order to be productive. For that I can put my phone down long enough to complete my tasks.

I guess I can’t relate to the concept of dragging ass all day. Aren’t you worried about losing your job? Is that not enough encouragement? Does someone else pay your bills?

princessnorah , avatar

Did you get lost and stumble into the wrong community or something my friend? Could you maybe dial it down from 11? Jeeze.

lightnsfw ,

Your problem is a severe lack of discipline. If you need someone watching over your shoulder and putting pressure on you in order to get work done then you have a big discipline problem.

I'm in the office by myself most days. There's no one over my shoulder. It's just something about being in a different environment. It doesn't occur to me to go on the internet to start doom scrolling or researching stuff for personal projects. I do admit it's a discipline issue but nothing I've tried to overcome it has worked. I'm open to suggestions.

For me it’s about getting the job done. If I don’t get the job done then I’ve shown my employers that I am useless and I lose my job.

The problem is with my job there isn't a lot of "getting the job done" I'm the middle man on a lot of different things so there's a lot of just sending emails to different people to gather information or get something I can't do myself done. I'm pretty good about getting actionable things taken care of right away but all the setting up meetings and replying to emails stuff is tedious as hell and I find it really hard to focus on when I'm at home.

I guess I can’t relate to the concept of dragging ass all day. Aren’t you worried about losing your job?

Yes, That's why I go into the office to work.

tarmarbar ,

Same here. Need a teammate, a working atmosphere. Don't necessarily have to work on the same thing, but i crave a person i know also working next to me.

Passerby6497 ,

I get the issues with doom scrolling, but the desktop issue is pretty easily fixed. I have my home office set up with a couple KVM switches so that I can't be on my work laptop and home desktop at the same time, because both systems use all the same peripherals. That at least makes it harder to justify switching over and being (more) unproductive during my shift.

Also, I have found it helps to have music or a podcast going in the background to help keep your focus on what you're supposed to be doing.

echodot ,

I work in corporate IT so my job is basically to sit there twiddling my thumbs and wait until something breaks. Then I remote onto the server to fix the issue. Which means I was basically working remotely anyway the server might have been in the same building as me but I was never physically going down there I was still remoting on so working from home isn't much different for me.

I'm much more productive now because I don't have people coming and asking me questions, for which answer is in the corporate knowledge base. Now they actually have to check it.

princessnorah , avatar

I'm so sorry for all these other replies you got to a simple explanation that you personally prefer working in the office. You do you mate!

Redecco ,

If you have ADHD WFH could be a lot more challenging. Without external structure or factors aid track of time it makes it super tough to work isolated like that.

lightnsfw ,

Could definitely be a factor. I've not been diagnosed but I wouldn't be surprised to learn I have an attention deficit issue.

CosmicTurtle0 ,

The only reason I go in is for the free food. It's pretty good. But I'd rather have my time commuting back.

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