are more companies bringing people back to the office?

In the last couple of months, dozens of tech companies have announced they’re requiring employees to spend more days in the office — including companies that previously had gone “default remote” but now expect people to be on-site at least part of the week. Some observers have speculated that companies are doing this to encourage voluntary resignations so they can cut costs without having to pay severance … and some are asking whether we’re seeing a return-to-office wave.

If you’re seeing these sorts of changes at your company, please share below. What’s changing and how do you and your coworkers feel about it?

{ 641 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Rules of engagement for this one: If remote set-ups at your office are changing, please share with us what’s happening (what’s changing and why) — and how you and your coworkers feel about it!

    Also note that if the discussion turns into an interesting one, it’s possible I could quote from your comment in a future piece (anonymously, of course). If you don’t want me to do that, please indicate it. Thanks!

  2. Heath*

    Yep – I work for the federal government in Canada and they announced last month that all workers have to work 2-3 days in the office. The rationale I have heard for this change is relationship building and work culture.

    1. LanguageAssessor*

      They’re giving us the same line – we’re language assessors. What “collaboration” do we do? We sit in closed offices in Teams meetings with people in other buildings, but yes we need to go into the office to “collaborate” with our teammates.

        1. LanguageAssessor*

          We assess whether people speak English or French at a sufficient level for jobs within the Canadian federal government. (Different jobs (and different regions) require different levels of proficiency) is the easy explanation.

          1. Dawn*

            Even outside of the government, when I transferred into my new department at work, a manager had to let me know (when I got French clients routed to me by mistake) that my French, while not terrible (I absolutely know I’m not fully fluent) was not good enough for me to legally serve customers in Quebec in French and I had to pass them on to a certified French-speaking colleague.

      1. Delurking for this*

        Yes, companies are starting to bring people back to the office, at least for several days of the week. It was never realistic to think that for most jobs, staff were going to be able to silo themselves away forever, never again to interact with other people outside of Zoom.

        If you make this point on a board like this, you’re typically greeted with a chorus of, “but I worked more efficiently at home! There was no loss of efficiency!” To that, I say:

        1. You are unlikely to be measuring efficiency for everyone, only yourself, and even there you are likely not taking formal measurements.

        2. Just because you do your existing job more efficiently does not mean that the entire company is more efficient *as a whole*.

        A long time ago, I did an Outward Bound program in which we did an icebreaking exercise. We were asked to team up with three people and put on a blindfold.

        The first person was given a baton, who was then supposed to hand it off to the second person, and then the third. You were given 15 minutes to prepare. The first person typically memorized taking 20 or so steps to a designated place (like a big boulder) at which she was supposed to hand the baton to the next person. The second person similarly memorized her choreographed steps, moving blindfolded from the boulder to (say) a log. The third person did likewise.

        When it came time to move from preparation to the actual big event, the first person was usually able to replicate her practice using muscle memory. But the second person deviated from the path, and the third person ended up nowhere near she was supposed to be.

        The point of this exercise was to show that the handoff of the baton is everything. You can memorize the order of your own steps and get them more-or-less correct. But when it came time to interact with another person, you couldn’t rely on your own memory. The trick in orchestrating a complex task is handing off component parts.

        This is the flaw in all these “but I’m more efficient working from home!” rejoinders. You are ignoring the handoff. Companies are not patchworks. A well-run organization is more than the sum of its parts.

        3. Finally, the point of organizations is not only to master existing procedures, but to grow — to develop new ones. Even if you are “just as efficient” working from home, a lack of interaction with your colleagues may be costing the company new ideas, innovation, and growth opportunities, ones that you would never think of when siloed. This is just another example of the “lump of coal” fallacy — i.e., the erroneous idea that there is only so much coal in the world and the economy never grows.

        I think a lot of people actually recognize this, and the reason work from home is so popular on this blog is that the blog (for whatever reason) attracts a disproportionate number of introverts.

        1. Delurking for this*

          Apologies, I meant to post this in reply to Reality Check’s post below, but someone it ended up here.

        2. AnonForThis*

          I think you’re overestimating the amount of new ideas that would be generated if companies stuck to the old paradigm of butts in seats.

          There certainly are things that don’t happen working from home – running into former colleagues in the hall is one I miss, for example. And there is probably a small amount of collaboration that comes from that kind of thing.

          I don’t think that justifies forcing people to work less optimally in general, though – and that’s what hybrid is. Book a desk, go into the office with everything you might need for the day, adjust the desk and chair to the correct configuration for you, and then talk to people over the internet since other people are in different days … how is that helpful? It’s the worst of all possible worlds – a poor work environment, ergonomic problems from poorly configured equipment + carrying more stuff, increased risk of serious illness, and having to maintain a workspace at home.

          IME, working remotely is a problem when you’re the only one working remotely – you get left out of discussions, it’s harder to participate in meetings, etc. But when everyone is working from home, the discussions happen online, so everyone can participate.

        3. Wilbur*

          I’ve heard a lot of this kind of “we’re missing those random hallway conversations that end up generating the next great idea!”, and to be honest, I don’t know of a single instance of that being true.

          In terms of measuring productivity, the leaders in my organization found everyone was just as productive working remote than in person during 2020/2021 with one exception. We didn’t submit as many new product ideas. They concluded that it was because we were missing all the hallway conversations or the quick stop by someones desk. They didn’t talk about how those years everyone was slammed just trying to fix supply chain issues, childcare issues, etc.

          I have seen groups do coordinated campaigns to brainstorm and generate ideas that have yielded a lot of great results. I’ve seen teams hold brainstorming sessions that have yielded great results. Some of this can be done online, and some cant’.

          I don’t understand your “hand off” story. If people are bad at handing off work remotely, they’re going to be bad at handing off work in person. I think training or onboarding people is easier in person and doing big brainstorming sessions in person is nice, but for the rest of it? Who cares.

          1. Carlene*

            This very much depends on the type of work you do and your office set up.

            I have a really technical, teapot-related job with security concerns (legally, certain work cannot be done via email/Teams) – it’s really, really helpful to be able to walk down the hall and ask a quick technical question from a colleague who specializes in a different aspect of teapots.

            Or when a random technical question comes in from the International Teapot Society – when folks are in the office, wandering around will likely yield an answer from someone who remembers a similarly technical request from 12 years ago related to llamas (thus allowing me to deal with the issue in 20 min; I’d never have found the info on the shared drive… since it’s not teapot-related, but nevertheless teapot applicable).

            Folks who want to be 100% remote should get 100% remote jobs (and vice-versa).

          2. Caramel & Cheddar*

            It drives me up the wall when people use the “hallway conversations” argument. A hallway conversation is not collaboration nor is it communication! If your organization truly collaborated/communicated well, those hallway conversations wouldn’t be necessary in the slightest. But so many companies are actually quite bad at collaboration/communication, so they rely on the network of information built up by accidentally running into someone as a key business strategy.

            1. Carlene*

              This type of collaboration, for whatever reason, does not happen remotely.

              Bring new officers up to speed also does not, in any sort of efficient or useful manner, happen remotely.

              Remotely, I can, for some stuff, coast on existing relationships.

              1. Caramel & Cheddar*

                My point is that it *isn’t* collaboration, period. It doesn’t happen on remote platforms because you have to make purposeful communication choices on Teams or Slack or whatever; a hallway conversation isn’t like that because it’s accidental and unplanned.

                “I accidentally eavesdropped something I needed to know” or “It’s a good thing I ran into Fergus because he shared something I really needed to know!” is symptomatic of poor collaboration, not proof of good collaboration. No one should have to rely on the statistical likelihood of running into the right person on the right day at the right time with the right information.

                1. Callie*

                  No that’s not it. It’s “oh how’s your day going?” “Fine but I’m struggling with X?” “Oh, years ago I tried Y and it didn’t quite work but maybe Z?” “I wonder if we could tweak it like so . . . . “ Yes, you can do things like all office/all team emails and for stuff where you know someone else has dealt with it before, of course people do that. But serendipitous conversations can and do yield results when what you need is creativity and problem solving, not knowledge transfers.

                  And for junior people, there’s a lot to learn by hearing how senior people approach problem solving rather than seeing the end result.

                  To be clear: I’m 95% remote and intend to remain so. But I can’t imagine how I would have started my legal career remote. It would have made everything harder and more anxiety provoking than it was. I’m sure we’ll develop ways to replicate a lot of that training but it’s not pointless training and it’s not easy to do.

                2. Delurking for this*

                  And for junior people, there’s a lot to learn by hearing how senior people approach problem solving rather than seeing the end result.

                  This is a great point. Many people were clamoring for kids to return to in-person learning in school, because they recognized that remote schooling was problematic. But do advocates of WFH think that we stop learning from our fellow humans merely because we graduate from school?

                3. Jenna*

                  I agree with Callie here re: in-person work being better for more junior people vs. senior people. In the first 5-10 years of my career I learned a ton from just being in close proximity to more senior people sitting around me at desks or cubicles – overhearing conversations, seeing real-time and on-the-fly problem solving, being able to ask questions casually (much easier and more organic/less awkward and intimidating than trying to approach someone online or schedule time on someone’s calendar) – I picked up so much information and skill via osmosis. No way I would’ve had that if I was remote. Now, 16 years into my career, I’m 100% remote and am able to still be highly effective in my organization because of that foundation. My company has found that the junior folks, especially the ones who are in their first or second professional job, are struggling with remote work, regardless of personality (introvert vs. extrovert, etc).

                4. Jenna*

                  I’ll add that an interesting side note to that is that it’s typically the more junior people, especially entry-level, who are looking for remote positions (or at least ones that are hybrid and highly flexible) when job hunting. But we’ve found that 1-2 years later, they are asking to come into an office at least a few days a week – they are struggling more than they anticipated with feeling like they really understand their place in the organization and how they fit with everything else, learning/training, etc.

        4. James*

          However, working from home does not automatically mean siloed and working in an office does not automatically mean not siloed. In both cases, the company needs processes in place to break down silos – if that’s what they want to do. In my experience, the magical “I got a new idea from talking to Bob at the watercooler” moments that so often feature in the benefits of office working happen so rarely they cannot be relied upon in business (I can count 2 such incidents in 25 years of office work) – there need to be structured processes to break down silos and encourage cross-team communication.

          1. JML*

            My company announced a few weeks ago anyone living within a 40 mile radius of an office (we have 4 main offices scattered about the US and 1 in Europe
            – we’ve had several acquisitions in the last few years) must come in the office 2 days a week starting this month but must be in by March. This includes people hired as remote during the pandemic. There are almost zero ways to get an exception other than disability. All future hiring is intended to be hybrid as well. They had tried unsuccessfully to get people back in the office on a voluntary basis previously with no luck with the exception of the office based in Houston – they’ve had a lot of people come back. We’ve been told it will impact performance reviews (just not sure in what way – or if the manager has any discretion to override it. Though I joined as a result of an acquisition and will remain fully remote as I live too far from an office, I am told many of the offices were already past capacity pre-pandemic and they have made no investments in getting people desks or allowing people reserve seats. While they require the two days everyone can pick which days. We were told this will increase collaboration and reduce silos, improve in innovation and connection while allowing for flexibility. The general feeling is not great.

            1. IT Manager*

              IMO this is absolutely the worst way to decide who has to come into the office – if you happen to live nearby, you have to come in, but if you live far away, you can do the same job from your house? Very arbitrary!

          2. Curmudgeon in California*

            Yeah, I was at on company years ago that famously said “no more remote work” and “we’re going to open plan offices, no more cubicles”, all to promote “collaboration” and “openness”.

            It didn’t work, at all. Why? Because the company was heavily siloed, and it was made even worse by going to quarterly performance reviews, complete with competitive stack ranking, and “collaboration” was not one of the items measured in the stack ranking exercise, just your manager imposed “goals”.

            IME, in-person working is seldom more collaborative, and if it’s an open plan office communication between people is less because of noise issues. I have several years worth of articles and studies on the subject of open plan offices, which most of these “trendy” companies wanting butts in seats impose.

        5. Just Another Starving Artist*

          I said this below, but I think this blog skews heavily towards people who *can* work from home. If you’re working with machinery/lab equipment, interfacing with clients/the public, actively collaborating with coworkers, working on a secure computer that limits access to outside sites, etc., you’re a lot less likely to have time to comment here than you are if you’re doing solo work on a laptop and this is the tab you check between spreadsheets.

          Which is fine! But it’s worth recognizing the skew when we start making pronouncements about the future of work in general.

          1. umami*

            True, I work in higher ed, and our campus is heavily workforce education, so many of us have been back since June of 2020 developing plans to provide in-person instruction that cannot be duplicated online lol. The bigger issue I see is how to develop a work from home policy so that remote work can be allowed under certain circumstances – I definitely see value in allowing someone the flexibility of working from home on occasion for minor disruptions (appointments, home repairs, childcare issue, etc.) rather than taking leave. But without a board-adopted policy, we aren’t really allowed to do that.

          2. Allie-by-the-sea*

            I work in fundraising for a global NGO, so quite a bit of my time is spent meeting with or reaching out to donors (our “clients”). My job also requires collaborating with program staff and fundraising colleagues on a daily basis to share information. I’m fully remote, and it hasn’t been an issue for me or my peers. We do have occasional donor meetings in person, but our donors are based across the country, so videoconferencing has replaced the traditional phone calls, which is an improvement!

          3. Spero*

            I agree with this. I work with clients in a social work/health role and access confidential health info regularly. About half of my office could work remotely and sometimes does, but myself and my team absolutely could not do more than…maybe one day a week remotely.
            Also, our clients are often semi-illiterate so can’t email, don’t have cell phones with data or minutes available to meet by zoom etc, and other challenges. The expectation by other service providers that the clients can do things remotely has not helped these people – they’ve just disconnected from services. In my city everyone is aware of this, and the solution seems to be that since they’re mostly older adults, it ‘eventually won’t be an issue.’ So essentially – let’s let them die off alone and unserved because this style of work is most convenient for me.

        6. JTP*

          If one worker in a group works less effectively from home, have a conversation with that one employee. Makes no sense to make the whole group come work from the office.

          1. Inertia*

            This. I’ve heard that excuse too, and it’s absolutely an excuse that people use when they don’t want to require managers to manage. If one person’s coming in late every day, you talk to that one person, you don’t make everyone in the company check in with their boss at 8AM sharp. But if one person works less effectively from home, rather than having their manager work with them to improve their performance, you penalize everyone in the company?

            Blaming and punishing the whole company for something one person, or a few people, do is punitive, disrespectful, and a good way to increase turnover.

        7. Well...*

          “1. You are unlikely to be measuring efficiency for everyone, only yourself, and even there you are likely not taking formal measurements.”

          Interesting that you wouldn’t apply the same level of rigor to the claim they working in an office is more efficient.

          In my field people regularly worked from home before the pandemic to increase their productivity, especially on tight deadlines and with no kids at home. We’re widely given the discretion to maximize our own productivity and many people choose WFH (I do not by the way). It’s not a formal study, but there are plenty of extremely productive people I know who come in like once a week.

        8. Ismonie*

          You are overgeneralizing here. I have worked at jobs where people or organizations function as you described, but I have also worked in jobs where I never met some of the people I worked with in person, let alone by video chat. It was all emails, texts, and phone calls. In many workplaces, teams aren’t in the same office location, so even if they are all in the “office” they aren’t physically present with their direct colleagues. So for many of us, yes, we can say we do just as well at home. Especially for people like me who are subject matter experts who need a lot of uninterrupted focus time.

        9. Been There*

          Thank you. This comment section leans very WFH, but I enjoy the hybrid setup we have in our office. Random conversations happen much more easily AND lead to solutions that wouldn’t otherwise have been thought of. A coworker may be struggling to solve something for hours by themselves, not knowing that someone else in the office could fix it in 5 minutes.
          Our management is starting to emphasize that we need to be in the office at least 50% of the time. I think that’s good. It’s nice to see my coworkers face to face as it makes it easier to socialize and get to know them as people. When you have good relationships with your coworkers, you will be more likely to do each other a favor. It makes for better work.

        10. Des*

          I grant you a solid argument in favour of coming in to the office. I think the biggest problem here is that companies want us to sacrifice our well being for the well being of the company, but they aren’t compensating us for it sufficiently. There’s inflation out there, so already the job that we’re doing now we’re doing for less pay than pre-pandemic. Now companies are asking us to come into the office (like pre-pandemic) for effectively less pay, because it’s good for the company. They need to sweeten the deal for the employee to make it “worthwhile”.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Came here to point this out, though I don’t work for the federal government and can’t speak to how it’s landing.

      I’ve seen some critiques online that this move is really squandering an opportunity to build a federal public service that represents the whole country, rather than people who can/want to live in Ottawa.

      1. lurkyloo*

        Likewise a fed employee on the West coast. As we’re in negotiations for our new agreement and they’re stalling, I feel that they’re going to throw everything negative at us and make us choose what’s most important. Ugh.
        It’s a leasehold justification. They own or lease what are currently empty buildings. My office building was already under renovation to become a hotelling office (where folks don’t have a ‘desk’ but rather come in and hot desk). But now suddenly they’ve halted that and are returning to the old way of doing it.

        1. Union nerd*

          I can’t speak for every negotiation, but in my limited experience the primary source of conflict is the high inflation rate. Working conditions are a concern, but stalling is likely due to waiting for the yearly economic numbers to be published.

        2. Delurking for this*

          I feel that they’re going to throw everything negative at us and make us choose what’s most important. Ugh.

          God forbid.

        3. Feline*

          Real estate is a huge driver. Lastjob just opened a brand-spanking new building and is mandating everyone in the area go in to fill it up. It’s wasteful, but they want to justify the huge investment in real estate they continued full steam ahead with through the whole pandemic.

      2. Carlene*

        My internationally-focused section of a Canadian government department has been required to work in person 3 days a week since last March. It’s fine (albeit weird that most of the rest of the department is 100% remote to maybe 1 day a week in person).

        I appreciate that the Assistant Deputy Minister was upfront and said we are back in the office because management wants us back for hard-to-quantify-on-paper reasons and because “encouraging” folks to go to the office as an experiment resulted in pretty much nobody ever working in the office.

        I have a technical job and the ability to pop in and consult other technical experts is really helpful. Secure meeting rooms also allow for productive meetings that cannot take place via Teams for security reasons.

        Training up junior officers is also so much easier in person. (Maybe my division just got duds during the pandemic, but I’ve had so.damn.many issues with my new reports who spent their last 2 years in college online, including all their co-op jobs).

        Fwiw, I think it’s great that the Government came up with a Government-wide policy. I’m genuinely sick of the whining about hybrid work – folks who hate it should just find new remote jobs (and vice-versa).

        1. Chinookwind*

          I think the biggest advantage to going back to the office will be training new people and transferring to new positions. During the pandemic, I started a new in office position after having dream position as a remote worker until that company lost their government contract. The remote position was a dream because of what it was (teaching) but the remote aspect, while overall advantageous to our students (who were from all over the province and, because they were remote, didn’t have to come to the city for weeks of training), it did mean that I was unable to chat with fellow instructors between/before classes to brainstorm better ways to work. I felt lost about my job when I wasn’t teaching and it took 6 months to truly get used to not being able to ask someone what would be a quick conversational question but difficult to discuss over chat.

          On the other hand, the in-office job I have been doing since that last one was such an easy transition because I could call over my manager to look at my screen if I have a question or just call out something over my shoulder (and hear the other conversations going on around me). I know all about what the company is doing (sometimes too much) and possible future work. And, yes, relationship building is much easier when you have to see each other daily.

          As a Canadian taxpayer (and one who lived in Ottawa for a time), I am happy that the government is going back to in-office work, especially since the remote work did not mean that these jobs were going to regions outside of the usual cities (which it could have but experience taught me that those in Ottawa were never going to contemplate). As well, so much of what they deal with involves physical documents (like visas and passports) and confidential information, which must have been a nightmare to organize for people to work from home. I am in awe of the logistics that it must have intailed.

          As well, looking at the attitudes DH’s bosses who worked remotely while the guys on the street never were allowed to take a day off even during the worst parts of Covid (due to being first responders), there really is a disconnect between those who have the privilege to work remotely from those who never had that option. Basically, too many abused their privileged position and have ruined it for everybody. If they had played nicely, maybe there would be more sympathy for them having to return to a reality that others have been living all along.

        2. Ismonie*

          I think it is legitimate to want to keep a current job but to want certain aspects of it to change. “Just get a new job” is such a take it or leave it attitude that doesn’t really fit with oh, say, unionization or other workers’ rights movements.

      3. lurkyloo*

        Nesting, fail, sorry.
        Grumpy Elder Millenial (love that name!) – Yes. This would have been a stellar opportunity to really access talent from anywhere in the country and have a much broader employee base. Now they’re restricting themselves to those that can get to the office. I’m currently a manager (from the west coast) managing a team in the Capital region with staff from a variety of locations. And we work REALLY well together!

        1. Remote Bonus*

          Yes, I am on a team of 10 that did over a thousand interviews to find people with the right skills mix. In the past, they would have been limited to people who could commute to NYC or London, which is a big pool for single cities, but not a BIG pool. It was basically impossible (there are statutory qualifications in all of our jurisdictions for holding this job ), so they had to outsource it at great expense. With other teams working effectively remotely during the pandemic, a company agreed to try permanent remote hires for these roles, giving them access to people living anywhere in the US or the EU who can meet the statutory requirements, which is a much larger pool.

          We are four times faster than the outsourced function was, and we cost half as much. Taking advantage of remote hiring was a huge boon for my employer.

    3. Former Retail Lifer*

      At my husband’s old job they said the same thing. The “relationship building” was three people in a meeting in person and the rest over Teams. The “culture” was sitting at a cubicle.

    4. Ex employee*

      I left GOC a couple months ago because of a move. I rolled my eyes when I heard about the 2-3 days a week. My previous supervisor is probably jumping for joy, as she hated work from home. She lives on site in a very remote area, and uses the office for her socialization. She used the “relationship building” as an excuse to get us to agree to more days in, but every time I went in I got nothing done because she talked my ear off.

    5. AnonForThis*

      Yeah, we were told we had to go back 2 days a week (or 8 days a month) in September, and I just haven’t done it. There’s no reason – my job is more effective from home than in a hybrid situation, and I don’t want the increased risk.

      But since it’s now government-wide, I’m applying outside the government.

      1. AnonForThis*

        Here are the issues with going back in:
        – increased COVID risk – they’ve gotten rid of some floors and are renovating others so it’s crowded; they do not require masks at your desks or in conference rooms (although you do need to mask while walking around and in elevators)
        – since everyone chooses at least some of the days they’re in, many meetings have to be on Teams anyway. I have daily meetings with multiple teams, so I’d be doing all of my meetings online – in an open environment, without a headset.
        – There are no assigned desks and you can’t store anything at the office overnight. Need tissues/a coffee cup/a laptop charger/shoes to wear indoors? You have to carry it back and forth every day.
        – You have to book desks online, and there aren’t enough to accomodate 40-50% of the workforce at a time (and everyone going in 2 days a week means a minimum of 40% of people in a day, but most people don’t want to go in Monday or Friday.)
        – Since there are no assigned desks, you can’t collaborate with someone in person since you don’t know where they are. (I guess if you knew they were going to be in, you could ask them where you’re sitting, but it won’t happen spontaneously.)

        1. Jzilbeck*

          It’s not just increased covid risks — it’s a BAD winter for other illnesses…specifically, flu and RSV. My management is temporarily allowing me to WFH full time since I have an infant being cared for at home that can’t be vaccinated yet for flu/covid and people are still coming into the office sick. No need to risk myself for coming in for virtual meetings when there’s an insane infant/childrens Tylenol shortage and our childrens hospitals are swamped with very sick kids.

          1. Sleeping Panther*

            It’s also been a bad winter for kennel cough and canine flu, making it trickier to board pets for the day if that’s something you need to do in order to work from the office.

          2. Carlene*

            Everyone coped with seasonal bugs before COVID. This is a manageable risk (plus, everyone in the federal government is required to be vaccinated).

            There’s also (in the National Capital Region) zero masking or vaccination requirements anywhere outside the federal government (and certain healthcare settings, like hospitals)… so if one is out and about anywhere in and around Ottawa, a federal government workplace is the safest, virus-wise.

            (Also, for the very high risk, a medical accommodation is possible – a colleague with a very sick child has been deemed a permanent teleworker and several friends with temporary health challenges have received six month long, but renewable if necessary, allowances to work from home).

            1. Lollygagger*

              “We coped with seasonal bugs before” isn’t an acceptable reason for me. There are many things that people made work prior to COVID that could have been much better, and I’m more interested in taking what we’ve learned from this and applying it to making better working environments for the workers.

            2. Chaos Muppet*

              Everyone coped by it being normalized for people to get 2-3 colds a year, susceptible people getting bronchitis and or pneumonia every year from said “no big deal colds” , and many people getting flu every year – all from workplace transmission.

              The level at which we “coped” with seasonal bugs was never healthy or productive, just expected in a North American workforce prioritizing butts in chairs .

              And while GoC sick leave policy is very generous on paper (15 days a year) , my experience as a fed for 20+ years is that using it just for a cold for more than the maybe worst day of the cold was outside the cultural norm of almost every team I worked on. And if remote work is supported, that’s not as unreasonable – contagious people may totally feel fine enough to work from home.

              There’s also a big difference between being out and about (a short masked trip to a few stores) and 8+ hours in an indoor environment overcrowded with other, unmasked people so the notion that the federal workplace is safer is not true (although it probably is safer than actually working in restaurants or retail, but that’s not what you seemed to be talking about above)

              1. Giant Kitty*

                Right? I’m disabled and no longer work, yet I still had to deal with getting multiple colds & bronchitis every year, as well as flu & pneumonia, because of irresponsible a-holes at my husband’s job that always came in sick & gave their communicable diseases to my husband.

                He works a Union job with generous amounts of PTO that they were never discouraged from using, there was absolutely no reason for these people to come in sick, yet they did so anyway.

                My number one disability/chronic illness is respiratory in nature and every time I get sick, it permanently erodes my health status that much more. It ENRAGES me that so many companies have not merely not learned anything from the pandemic, they are quite aggressively trying to pretend it never happened (when it is still RAGING and killing hundreds on the daily.)

                1. Kayem*

                  We spent the last three weeks of December sick with COVID because partner’s boss came to work sick. He didn’t know he had COVID, but he was very sick and knew he shouldn’t have been at work that day. Even said, and I quote: “I have no business coming into work today.” He didn’t even wear a mask and he spent the day hovering over people’s shoulders to “show them how X was done” (which was also unnecessary because X was always a simple task the engineers already knew how to do).

                  It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it was worse than the first time we had COVID due to irresponsible people at partner’s workplace. We were out for two weeks solid and then on a week of rest. We still get winded going up the stairs, I still cough regularly, and I still can’t taste or smell anything. Partner maxed out his long-term sick leave and PTO. He has a chronic health condition and is now starting the year with none available.

                  And that jerk boss isn’t the only one who pulls this. There’s plenty of other people. And that jerk’s boss is even worse, one of those types who never misses a day and doesn’t believe in taking time off. There’s so much pressure to come in while sick and as bad as it is now, it was even worse before the pandemic. Calling in sick was a weakness and was an invisible bad mark on an employee’s record. And in this region, that kind of thinking is still the norm, pandemic or no.

              2. The King is a Fink!*

                I went from going into the office and getting a cold every season from coworkers spreading whatever their kids catch to working entirely remote and not being sick at all for nearly two years: it was amazing.

            3. AnonForThis*

              COVID is considerably more serious – it may present as a cold/minor illness, but many people who had mild COVID are developing diabetes, heart problems, stroke, memory fog, and a host of other issues.

              The federal government no longer requires vaccination – they stopped last fall. And no other place in the NCR requires that I spend 16 hours a week there.

            4. Curmudgeon in California*

              Really? Did those “seasonal bugs” swamp hospitals to the point where they were turning away patients and seeking additional beds many miles away?

              Even “bad” flu season’s haven’t been as deadly as Covid for the last three years. Plus, this year is bad for flu and RSV as well as Covid.

              Seriously, I am tired of people minimizing Covid and acting like it’s nothing more than a bad cold. Sure, it might be like that if you’re young, healthy and vaccinated, but a lot of people think they’re healthier than they are, and many of us have immune compromised, young or elderly relatives that are higher risk, even if they can be vaccinated. This “butts in seats” attitude just perpetuates the pandemic, and shoves the disabled and immune compromised into the closet so people don’t/won’t think about them.

              1. Carlene*

                So we should all stay home? Forever? Or until some unknown standard of virus safety has been achieved?

                My guess is there is no standard and a subset of folks who prefer working from home… who should get remote jobs (vs. Moaning that their collective agreements require them to be in the office part time).

                1. Ismonie*

                  I’m going to try my damnedest not to bring it home until the hospitals in my area could actually care for my kids.

                2. YourBehaviorAffectsEveryoneElse*

                  As someone who has been forced to stay home pretty much 100% of the time for almost three years now because of the irresponsible behavior of others, yes. Stay home when the virus is raging. Don’t gather indoors with other people. Your desire to go do stuff as if Covid doesn’t exist is impinging on the ability of some people to do anything at all. I’d like to be able to do stuff again at some point too. I resent that most others have decided that going out and about and letting the virus(es) run rampant is great because they think it won’t get them.

            5. Ismonie*

              Well, the problem now is that the rates of these illnesses are so high that at least in the US, we are running out of pediatric hospital beds. So we coped before because the numbers were lower. We also lost pediatric capacity during the pandemic because children weren’t getting sick requiring hospitalization as often as they historically had, due to COVID mitigation measures.

            6. Inertia*

              And before the polio vaccine, people coped with being paralyzed or seeing their kids in an iron lung. “But we lived with it before” is a terrible reason to resist change.

        2. Chaos Muppet*

          Before Covid, my department was trying to encourage employees to shift to the hotelling office buildings, and they were kinda tempting (standardized desks with two decent monitors, sit or stand option for desks, and most importantly – lockers to store stuff).

          Now they want us back using the hotelling options, they’ve gotten rid of most people’s offices completely to shift them over, the hot-desking requires signing up in advance, and the lockers are for day use only. In winter. In Canada.

          A friend of mine on Facebook joked about how she’s just keep most of the stuff she needs to lug in her car and people would be like “Where’s Sansa?” “Oh, she went to the parking lot to her car because she had to staple something” but it’s not really all that funny.

          In a hybrid workplace we don’t all need our own offices, but expecting people to lug the bulkier office supplies (e.g. reams of paper, staplers, tape dispensers, keyboards) in addition to the laptop and associated gear (mice, charger, headset) is dumb.

          Forcing people to do so in additional to lugging all the personal gear required to deal with winter or weather is even dumber. And it’s got a gender bias. Men’s winter footgear options include many designed to be worn over typical office shoes. Women’s dress shoes, not so much, so women are more likely to need separate boots.

          Similarly, the presentation efforts required to be dressed for the office (e.g. avoiding hathead ) typically require more supplies for women.

          And finally, while there are plenty of so-called unisex brands of outerwear, the pocket situation on typically-coded-as-female outerwear is much worse, so it all adds up to an even higher burden of crap having to be carried to/from work each day, most of which pre-Covid would more sensibly kept at work.

    6. Medium Sized Manager*

      I’ve also heard it’s to support the local Subway. Can’t imagine a better reason /s

      1. AnonForThis*

        Yeah, that’s one of the explanations I’ve heard – local business are hurting. (I’m sure they are, but that’s not my problem to solve.) But we’re just getting a bunch of excuses – “oh, it’s so good to see people again”, “it’s so much better for my physical/mental health”, etc.

      2. Kowalski! Options!*

        I never thought I’d see the day when “EAT FRESH!” became a war cry, but such are the times we live in.
        IMHO, the GoC is really shooting themselves in the foot with this one: COLA increases aren’t keeping up with inflation, a lot of us are **still** getting screwed with Phoenix Pay System f-ups seven years on, many roles have limited advancement opportunities unless you want to become a manager (and good luck if you’re in the regions!), and for those of us in the NCR, there’s the whole boondoggle of having to tangle with the LRT. We’ve lost several students who turned down bridging opportunities because they wouldn’t make enough money in entry-level positions to pay rent and student loans.

      3. Curmudgeon in California*

        That’s just silly. But yes, I’ve heard “Come back to the office to support local restaurants!” It’s probably one of the stupidest reasons for RTO that I’ve heard. I pack my lunch when I’m in an office, because paying for lunch at a restaurant on top of paying for commuting is just not something I can afford.

        1. Kowalski! Options!*

          I’ve supported my local sandwich shop and independent coffee place in my neighborhood since I’ve been working from home. Haul me back to the office, and I am going right back to my reusable-Keuring-cup-and-brown-bag lifestyle because having to support downtown businesses as an employee does not appear as a job responsibility in my letter of offer, TYVM.

          1. DJ*

            Also probably not reflected in your pay packet. Where my office is located take away lunch costs have doubled. So I bring my own at a fraction of the cost.

        2. Yet Another Canadian Fed*

          The irony is it actually hinders my ability to support local restaurants. Working from home, I order takeout frequently from my local restaurants and eat it safely at home. But none of the restaurants or the office seem to have implemented adequate indoor air quality measures to make it safe to take my mask off around other unmasked people, so I’m not going to eat in a restaurant or get takeout to eat in the office. I’m going to skip lunch all together and have a big dinner at home instead.

          1. Tomato Soup*

            My local cafe has doubled the number of employees behind the counter compared to before COVID and lunches there are a zoo. I’m glad because the food is great and they’re a lovely local family.

      4. Well...*

        Lol what? This is madness. It’s like saying you shouldn’t stream Netflix because it hurts VHS sales. Except worse, because the subway is critical infrastructure for some people, and that justifies its existence and funding more than broad ticket sales. Such backwards thinking.

        1. Loredena*

          They mean Subway the restaurant chain. I don’t know many people who are interested in choosing their workplace setup based on a need to keep a good chain in business. And it’s silly anyway because that business just supports local places more when working from home.

          1. Well...*

            Oh my goodness that is even worse! Why should anyone alter their lives to keep Subway afloat? They are one of the most predatory franchises around.

      5. RowanUK*

        Supporting local businesses has been the rallying cry in London (but, the largely unspoken thing by the UK government is that a lot of Tory ministers own/part own London office real estate and it’s costing them major coin – I mean, cry me a river.)

    7. GoC throwaway*

      It’s definitely not being well received in my policy-focused branch. We’ve grown significantly since the start of the pandemic and have done lots of hiring across the country. I have no issues going in for team meetings and a bit of socializing with colleagues, but that’s not 40-60% of my work week. To be in the office given the continued risk of COVID and other illnesses, to have to lug my laptop, food, water bottle, change of shoes, etc. by bike or on the bus, just to sit at a less comfortable and ergonomic set-up than I have at home while I write emails, draft documents, and sit on Teams meetings doesn’t make any sense to me. It actually makes me feel more negative about work culture in the public service – a blanket policy demonstrates a lack of trust and limited understanding of the work of individual departments and teams. It ignores all the surveys they’ve conducted, ostensibly to take our feedback into account, and runs counter to many of the public service’s own initiatives on accessibility, mental health, and diversity and inclusion, which all emphasize flexibility to empower employees according to their unique circumstances.

      Plus about a week before this announcement, they announced that they are terminating the lease on our building at the end of December 2023, but they do not have any details on where we will go…it’s clear there are parallel processes that aren’t being coordinated.

      I’m really curious to see how it’s going to be actually implemented and monitored.

      1. AnonForThis*

        We’ve already lost one person who directly said they were leaving because they weren’t willing to work from the office. They won’t be the last.

        1. Carlene*

          This is fine. This is hopefully part of a big realignment of the workforce in which folks who want to be remote get remote jobs (vs. moaning that they must return to the office, when they agreed to an in-office job via collective agreement with Club Fed).

          1. AnonForThis*

            Is it fine?

            I’m in IT; if 50% of the government’s IT staff find other jobs or retire, what’s goinf to happen?

            1. Carlene*

              They will be replaced by folks who are comfortable with a hybrid working environment.

              There is absolutely no reason people who hate being required to be in the office a few days a week should…. be in the office unhappy a few days a week when they have other options.

              (My guess is rather a lot of people prefer the stability/benefits of working for the feds more than they dislike working in the office part time… or more would have left for remote opportunities).

              1. CorruptedbyCoffee*

                As someone who works completely in person for government (different government), we just lost approx 50% of our workforce due to changes tied to the COVID era. Management sat on the openings and then tried to hire. They were surprised that what used to be an attractive job was now apparently not so appealing. They have acknowledged to us that they are having trouble finding people willing to work under the current conditions.

                What you say about people preferring stability and benefits is still true to some extent, but it’s stuck in 2018 thinking. Those benefits are no longer as great as they used to be. The working situations are more fluid and less stable. With high inflation the difference in pay is more noticeable. The way our office works has changed on a fundamental level and is unlikely to change back. It’s not what it used to be, and what it is now is a lot less appealing. You might be surprised at the difficulty of replacing all those people.

                1. Carlene*

                  I work for a department where 4,000+ candidates applied for 50 positions last year. And the year before. And every year for the past 20+ I’ve been in government.

                  For whatever reason, my workplace is a “desirable” one that has oodles of candidates to choose from).

              2. Inertia*

                My company lost almost 20% of its IT headcount in three months due to the hybrid environment. That was a year ago. You know what happened?

                Not only are we still understaffed, despite advertising open positions constantly, but we now have a backlog of delayed projects and deferred maintenance that we can’t catch up with. Because not only is our hiring pool limited to people who live within commuting distance, but it’s limited to the people in that commuting distance who don’t want hybrid positions (or are too unskilled or inexperienced to compete with a nationwide pool). Not only do we have fewer applicants, fewer of those who do apply are qualified. You sound like you think that for every IT worker who wants a remote job there’s another one in every location who doesn’t, and that is just not true.

                Your comments all seem to assume that there are unlimited jobs and unlimited persons to fill empty slots. The irony is that you’re using that to argue *for* in-office requirements, when – while your assumption is untrue anywhere – it’s much closer to being true when all jobs are hybrid.

                1. Skyline*

                  This comment is so accurate that it hurts. It reflects my own experience in the digital field entirely.

          2. Giant Kitty*

            I think it’s fine, too, but only because when a significant percentage of the workers leave for jobs with more flexibility, all of these hidebound “butt in seats for no reason” workplaces will eventually all be FORCED to change lol.

            1. Inertia*

              I hope you’re right, but given my experience with my current company, I suspect we’re all underestimating the number of workplaces that will literally go under rather than move to remote work.

    8. Former Local*

      My parents still live in Ottawa and it is where I grew up. I have complicated feelings about the federal workers coming back to the office, because on the one hand I support remote work, and on the other hand… downtown Ottawa is suffering. It feels like the city has rapidly become a big suburb surrounding an abandoned core. I don’t know how you keep all federal workers at home indefinitely and also save downtown Ottawa from its deathbed. I don’t know who is “responsible” to the city and small business owners… Do we just let it die?

      1. AnonForThis*

        How about we change office towers into mixed-use housing – some subsidized, some full price? The city is hurting for housing, and that would bring people into the downtown core.

        1. Carlene*

          It’s really complicated and expensive to convert an office building into a residence – if only for plumbing reasons. It’s MAJOR structural work to add in the plumbing needed to turn a floor of offices (maybe six bathrooms in one corner) into apartments that require 1-2 bathrooms plus kitchen and laundry facilities in each apartment.

          In a lot of cases, it’s be cheaper to tear down the office building and build a new mixed use building.

          1. Chaos Muppet*

            I know there’s too many layers of responsibility / funding / bureaucracy for this to happen, but honestly “demolish most of these buildings to build mixed-use housing with the ground floors allocated for commercial use (restaurants, small grocery, pharmacies, little shops) would be fantastic.

            I used to feel bitter traveling to European cities with well developed urban cores and functional transit that are much smaller than Ottawa, population wise. Proof that having a vibrant city with affordable and accessible public transit could be done if we had the will to support it.

          2. AnonForThis*

            OK, let’s do that.

            There is no reason to force people to commute for jobs that don’t require it. The only reason to do so is to solve problems like “what about the downtown core? What about the café on the corner?”

            We could solve two problems at once by changing out the unnecessary office towers for housing. Yes, there’d be a one-time cost, but a vital core filled with people seems worth it.

      2. LanguageAssessor*

        Why is the downtown core of Ottawa considered the responsibility of the federal government and not the city itself? Federal workers back in the office may make the downtown core busy, but it’s going to be just as quiet in the evenings as it is now.

      3. GoC throwaway*

        I agree with others about building a downtown that brings people in for other reasons than work. Also, a lot of federal offices aren’t actually in downtown Ottawa! My building is in Gatineau and has literally one deli within walking distance…I’d actually be more positive about going into the office if could run some useful errands over lunch or on my way home.

        If the 2-3 days policy is strictly implemented, location will definitely impact which departments I’m interested in working in.

      4. Curmudgeon in California*

        Why is it the remote workers responsibility to “save” downtown? If it’s not viable without forcing people to be regularly exposed to a deadly virus, then just let it die.

      5. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Ottawa has always been like this to a degree, though; when I lived there, everything was closed after 5pm, which was a shock to me even as someone who had moved from a GTA suburb *to* Ottawa. The pandemic may have exacerbated things, but it’s definitely not a new problem.

      6. Giant Kitty*

        It’s certainly not the responsibility of remote workers to risk their/their families lives to save small businesses because the older forms of work that support them are becoming outdated.

      7. Skyline*

        I know what you are saying, but I am not a life support system for downtown businesses, and more importantly, their landlords (who all love the capitalist free market until the all-important workers and consumers that the whole system relies upon say something they don’t like). Suburban businesses are thriving.

        Downtown needs to reinvent itself. All the unused office space can be converted into housing. (And no, it isn’t as difficult to do this as powerful vested interests would have you believe.)

    9. Yet Another Canadian Fed*

      Yup. Meanwhile, my department has already divested itself of the majority of its office space, achieving significant cost savings, and implementing this directive will cost millions in taxpayers’ dollars to find space for everyone.

      The office space that remains is less conducive to our work. The remaining space is an open room with no dividers, with a hotelling-based structure, shared among people doing all kinds of different work. Our work requires extended periods of quiet, intensive, focused individual work. Over 99% of my time is spent on this work – I spend less than an hour in a typical month communicating with others – so all the distraction of the office will make it significantly more difficult to get the same results.

      Even our old workspace where we were in cubicles with dividers made it harder to do our job – and to build relationships with our co-workers. We could still hear each other, so, even though we all liked and respected each other as people, the primary emotion we were feeling towards each other was “Shut up so I can work!” When I started working from home, I realized that the majority of my time and energy and effort at work were spent trying to focus so I could work, and at home I could just do the work! My organization has a significant documented increase in productivity and quality associated with working from home.

      We also restructured so our teams were based on subject-matter rather than geography, creating a situation where zero of the people I work with are in my city and zero of the people I’d be sharing an office with are people I’d ever need to collaborate with.

      Added to that, when we do collaborate, the nature of our work is such that asynchronous collaboration is more effective. One person drops a question in the group chat, another answers when they come across the answer. Before we had a chat, we did the same thing by email thread. Even when we were working in the same office and asking the questions verbally, we’d still document it in the email thread to refer back to as we worked through the project.

      Basically, all of this is an egregious misuse of public resources that will get worse results at greater expense to the taxpayer, and that’s even before we get into the public health burden (and the fiscal burden of sick leave) resulting from unnecessarily sending people into shared indoor space on the cusp of a new COVID variant surge when hospitals are already overwhelmed and there’s a shortage of over-the-counter medicine.

    10. MAC*

      I’ve worked for a federal government contractor in the US for a year. When I first started there wasn’t enough space for everyone so I initially worked primarily from home, with an average of a half day per week on site through hoteling. It’s still widely varied throughout our large organization, but my particular team has been back in person 2 days per week (out of 4, most of us do 4x10s) since October. It’s the *same* days for everyone, for collaboration & team-building purposes. Most of us have been there less than 2 years, so we didn’t have a foundation together, so it makes sense to me. (My previous employer unwillingly allowed telework when it was mandated then yanked everyone back as soon as possible, because “how can you trust people are working?” Sigh. Then after losing half the staff, NOW allows the new team to work up to 3 days from home. Sigh.)

      I am actually fine with hybrid. I live alone with just my dog and have significant hermit tendencies, so it is beneficial for me to be *required* to get out and interact with other humans, because I’m rarely motivated to do it at my own behest. My co-workers have expressed similar feelings. The federal agency we are contracted to is known for being very begrudging of ANY telework, so we’re grateful to still have the option to work from home 50% of the time.

      (I’m ok with being quoted, but there might be some identifying details like length of service or timing of being back or previous workplace info that I’d want changed or omitted since anyone who knows me or works with me would be able to tell this is me.)

  3. It's Marie - Not Maria*

    Weirdly enough, are actually expanding our WFH opportunities. We are essential, and have been in office for the most part since the beginning of the Pandemic. But now, they are looking at building costs and leases, and have downsized our onsite facility footprint. Cost Savings is doing what our employees have wanted forever.

    1. Reality Check*

      Same here but for different reasons. They were dead set against remote bc they thought we’d all just sleep on the couch all day. 2 people (including me) have gone remote for medical reasons and while they weren’t happy, they’re realizing that – surprise! – we’re getting MORE work done this way. So they’ve relaxed a little bit.

      1. rayray*

        This is the logic I find so odd. How much time gets wasted in-office by chit-chatting, playing games, having meetings run over because of personal conversation, etc. I don’t agree with the “butts in seats” logic. So long as the work gets done, does it matter if someone does other things throughout the day?

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          The logic is straightforward in those cases where management is not set up to measure outcomes. They substitute performative butts in seats as a proxy for productivity. The weird cases are the companies that do in fact measure outcomes, but still hate remote work. There the explanations run from power tripping, through sunk costs fallacy about that expensive office space with the long-term lease, to simple kneejerk conservatism.

          1. Weary cigarette drag*

            To your list we could add what I would politely call “emotional dysfunction”. On the nicer end of the spectrum was that LW from a little while ago who was angry that her co-workers didn’t want to come back to the office (she sent in a happier update). On the not so nice end… you know those people who are heavy drinkers, push everyone around them to drink, and get angry when refused? Many offices have the workaholic equivalent.

            1. It's Marie - Not Maria*

              You aren’t wrong. A butts in seat culture is usually the result of peer pressure – if my Team is in the office, why isn’t yours? Never mind that the teams do very different work. And some Managers wear their burnout like a badge of honor. Misery loves company.

              1. Cheshire Grin*

                Oh, goodness yes! At previous job, it was considered a bragging point for people to be so swamped with work that you had a crying/nervous breakdown. This office jumped to people full time in seats as soon as they could because the upper “management” needed to bring their peon/minions/underlings back under thumb. Soooo glad I’m not there.

              2. Giant Kitty*

                Yep! There’s often a very clear and very strong “crab in a bucket” mentality in the anti – WFH comments I see here- “MY job requires me to be in person, so YOU should be working in person too, even if your job can be done perfectly fine/even better as remote work!”

                No, people should be working in the most optimal/flexible settings that their job allows them, even if that doesn’t apply to every single job in the company. To think otherwise is simply absurd.

          2. Reality Check*

            Richard I think you’re right. It’s what one of the higher-ups said to me. “We have no way to know what you’re doing.” I immediately rattled off 5 ways they could check up on us (just look at the sent folder in our email. My God.) Unfortunately this just served to confirm my long held suspicion that they had no idea what we are doing all day to begin with.

            1. Divergent*

              Our management’s dislike of work from home led to a process where they finally tried to figure out what we were doing. It was entertaining to watch them go on the same journey I went on when I took the job: “this is a tiny little program, it shouldn’t take much work” to “this tiny little program is taking up HOW MUCH work?!?” to “surely there are efficiencies and we can reduce the workload for the tiny little program” to resigned defeat and just doing the work we’re bound by legislation to complete.

        2. Fishsticks*

          One thing I have definitely noticed is that in my current job, in which some are remote and some aren’t and therefore all our meetings are on Teams anyway, that the meetings stick to the scheduled time and any derailing becomes “hey, Clint, can you stay on the call after so I can ask you about Such and So” – so those two people can get their convo handled as a private meeting and the rest of us can get back to our actually relevant work!

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            I work remotely after having had up to 2.5 hours per day of commuting. It is life changing, especially since I have some fatigue issues from the “cold from hell” I had in December 2019 through February 2020 that kept coming back like a bad penny. (It probably was Covid.)

        3. Anonymous for this*

          This is the logic I find so odd. How much time gets wasted in-office by chit-chatting, playing games, having meetings run over because of personal conversation, etc

          See, those of us who aren’t introverts see chit-chatting and personal conversation as valuable.

          1. Scarlet2*

            I’m an introvert who enjoys conversation (because we’re not all antisocial, you know) and happens to like my coworkers.
            But watercooler chats definitely reduced productivity and I absolutely don’t miss sitting in an open plan office all day when I can do exactly the same job from home. And I also have conversations over Teams.

          2. Been There*

            I’m an introvert who loves those chit-chats and conversations. I also don’t need 100% of my work day to be productive, so I find all this talk about productivity a little disturbing. I am a human being who likes to mix some fun into their workday.

            1. Ismonie*

              For me, the productivity piece is I want to be able to put the work down at the end of the work day and be with family and friends. I agree that productivity for productivity’s sake can get problematic!

    2. Siege*

      I haven’t heard anything formal but we started a 10-year lease the month before the pandemic hit, so we’re pretty stuck with the space. We have been remote since early March 2020, and my boss is making noise about leasing offices to smaller orgs to offset some of the rent bill – the pandemic and the poor response has eviscerated the industry we support. So while she’d wanted us back in office in the new year, it’s starting to look like we may never go fully back in the office.

    3. icedcoffee*

      Ours too. We’re a giant corporation and until the pandemic, in-office was the expectation for my department and our PNW office. (The pre-pandemic director of our office was really big on in-person work, and would even check up on people wfh for illness reasons to make sure they were actually working.) Last year they expanded the internet reimbursement to all employees and allowed our office to hire people as 100% remote. After multiple surveys about what people wanted in the future, they’re closing our PNW office and we’re all wfh permanently.

      My husband’s job tried to make people come back in early 2021 before vaccines were widespread. That failed and even got pushback from people beyond the company. Now they have a standing expectation that people work in the office more often than not, but at least in his department nobody really cares. One of his teammates is even still working across the country.

      I know I am very very lucky to be able to do this, and the company has won more of my respect than they had 5 years ago.

      1. icedcoffee*

        Also: While my company is looking to sublet our office, they are able to write off the unused space for taxes. I don’t know how much that’s actual savings, especially if you’re not a gigantic multinational company with lots of lawyers and accountants. But it’s handy for us I guess.

        They were also able to set aside the single conference room that’s currently used for the only thing that requires in-person work and justified keeping the office around as long as they did. The whole rest of the suite is a write-off.

        1. baseballfan*

          It’s all a write off. Rent expense on offices is tax deductible regardless of whether the space is continually filled with people. Having empty space is not more of a “write off.”

          1. Icedcoffee*

            Maybe it is more for the stockholders then? The HR person rolling out the closure was pretty confident in the rationale of more cost savings.

    4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      This is my employer’s experience as well. The space that used to be dedicated to programmers started to get cannibalized by other departments’ needs, and it’s easier to recruit niche talent when you can draw from the entire continental 48, so even the locals ended up remote programmers. Other support divisions (e.g. Accounting) saw the same phenomenon.

      1. Anonymous for this*

        …it’s easier to recruit niche talent when you can draw from the entire continental 48, so even the locals ended up remote programmers.

        Be careful what you wish for. A company that realizes it can draw “from the entire continental 48” will also realize it can draw from the entire worldwide 195 — including places like India or the Philippines or Romania, where labor is a lot cheaper.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          No experience with the Philippines or Romania, but they did try to outsource to India and found no savings after a few months. The labor might be cheaper, but time-shifting and its associated delays, communication issues, having to clean up and refactor code after they got it back, etc, ended up more than offsetting the savings in increased overhead.

        2. Skyline*

          Be careful what you wish for. A company that realizes it can draw “from the entire continental 48” will also realize it can draw from the entire worldwide 195 — including places like India or the Philippines or Romania, where labor is a lot cheaper.

          Everything that can be offshored already has been. A large chunk of that work was then brought back onshore for a variety of reasons, including time zones, language barriers, work quality, etc. Any “savings” made were minimal, and it often cost more to fix errors, make up for time delays, etc.

    5. Missb*

      similar here – they’re redefining “remote” vs “non-remote” in such a way to discourage us to be in the office. (not sure that is their intention, but that is the effect)

      If I go into the office now to pick something up or to join an in-person meeting, my time counts from my house to my office, and I get paid mileage to get there and back. If I go into the office too many days a year (way less than the equivalent of one day a month), I lose some benefits associated with being remote. They don’t actually yank the ability to be remote, just that I’d be defined as something other than remote.

  4. Fed for Life*

    I work for the Fed. We have more flexibilities than we have ever had at my agency and are being encouraged to WFH if our jobs allow for it. I can’t speak to how evenly these new flexibilities are being implemented across the government, but where I have friends at other agencies they are seeing the same thing.

    1. another one*

      Office based fed here in an agency not always associated with office work. There’s a push and pull to allow as much flexibility as possible, with some resentment and imbalance being felt by fieldwork & co who cannot WFH. It’s a no win situation if ask me, but they’re trying!

      1. Frickityfrack*

        I don’t understand the resentment from people who can’t do their jobs from home. My job is one of them – I take passport applications so I’m in the office 5 days a week because that’s the only way to do it. Sure, there are days when I miss being able to roll out of bed and be at “work,” but I also took my job knowing what it required. I’m not going to get upset when it actually requires those things.

        I can 100% see resentment when WFH policies are illogical or based on favoritism, etc, but if it’s based on what each job actually needs, it seems like the options are to accept that or start looking for something different.

        1. Union nerd*

          People often get angry when they are stressed, and it is easier to target something specific with that anger in the hope that it can be fixed and the person could feel better. Unfortunately this isn’t rational, and that’s where humanity struggles.

        2. Dawn*

          I think sometimes it’s also because if the requirements were based on logic rather than policy, it would not actually be difficult to make it not need to be in-person.

          In my country I can complete a passport application 100% online; it’s not super-efficient, but it can all be done remotely.

          1. Frickityfrack*

            I don’t know that I would like people to be able to submit applications online, tbh. A big part of what I’m here to do is to watch behavior – someone can have documents that say all the right things, but it’s a lot harder to hide behaviors that can indicate fraud. I can’t even tell you how many times a parent has come in to apply for their child with forged/missing consent from the other parent and when I question them even the smallest amount, they spill. Either way, I like my job and I don’t mind being here in person at all.

            1. Dawn*

              It was meant more by way of example; just that there are an awful lot of tasks that absolutely can be done remotely, but aren’t, because that’s the way that we’ve always done them.

              I’m not contesting that you may be absolutely right that it’s necessary in your particular case! Although I do actually think it’s pretty dangerous to approve or deny essential services to people based on something as nebulous as their behaviour in a stressful situation. I’m trans; ask me how my behaviour when required to interact with public servants “may indicate fraud.”

              But what I’m trying to get across is that there are plenty of jobs where people hear “we have to do it in-person because our policy is that we can only stamp this document by hand” and that’s not actually the same thing as “it has to be done in person” because you can just change the policy – and in this modern world I think a lot of people are waking up to that.

        3. Bob-White of the Glen*

          I’m resentful of never being able to reach the WFHers. Yesterday I tried to call someone with a somewhat complicated, multi-part question and left a voicemail. She emailed me back saying she was working from home that day and to email her the question. (I guess using her own cell phone to do her job was not acceptable.) This resulted in four rounds back and forth, lots of writing on my part, lots of ignorant assumptions on her part, and a huge amount of time wasted instead of a 2-minute phone call. And she never bothered to finish answering the question.

          At my institution many times the WFH people never respond, and I don’t feel much work is getting done. On the rare occasion I WFH I get lots of comments about how fast I respond. Yes, because I am doing my job 8 full hours while at home. It’s the abuses that get me. If someone responds in a timely manner, I have no issues understanding a big chunk of my job is at the office. But when I can’t do my job because people are abusing WFH, yeah, I’m gonna be very resentful.

          1. Noblepower*

            Pre-pandemic I could make in person appointments to get certificates signed at a certain federal agency. I never had problem with deadlines related to these certificates because I had the appointment, and they’d be issued as expected. Now the staff that handles these certificates are all working remotely. The certificates are good 10 days, then they expire. I was able to get part A completed, starting the clock, go to the in person appointment either the same day or the next day, and have the maximum amount of time to work with. Now it has to sent to them, sent back by overnight delivery (embossed originals required), and they sit there for 2 days before they are turned around. Best case scenario, these 10 day windows are now 5 day windows, and when weather or a national holiday is a factor, I’ve been getting these after they expire. Have they widened the window of time the certificate is valid? No. Do they have any plans to return to in person appointments? No.

          2. Frickityfrack*

            Oh, yeah, that would aggravate me. The job I had working at home didn’t allow for that – we were enforcing child support orders and answering calls was a big part of our day. I refused a cell phone because my house is a dead zone, but I used a google voice number and a headset instead, and it would’ve been a huuuge deal if someone just refused to communicate by phone. Like, PIP time, possibly fired.

          3. Giant Kitty*

            This is a management problem, not a WFH problem. Your managers are LETTING this happen. It’s not actually any different than dealing with in office workers who slack & management ignore it because it doesn’t affect THEIR jobs.

    2. Jenny*

      I’m a fed (not in DC though) and our agency is in office one day a week. It’s a trial run set to be looked at again in a month or so. They’ve gotten some push back from people that want to be 100% remote though. And our job requires some travel and other times when you’d have to be in the office for more days in a week. That is causing some issues. My worry is that the complainers will spoil it for the rest of us and they’ll change their policies to more than 1 day per week. Personally, I’m very happy with the 1 day per week, but will be disappointed if we are required beyond 2 days. Prior to COVID we were in the office 3 days per week, but there was some talk about the previous administration wanting us in the office more often.

      1. Maglev No Longer to Crazytown*

        I joined Fed in the last year. My office is DC-based but my options were “come in one day a week” or “fully remote.” Apparently after COVID remote work, the agency accepted people were actually more productive and happy, and it was ultimately written that into our union’s written agreement. People who had been decades-long DC dwellers have been gradually moving out of the area and transitioning from the one day a week to fully remote. So if they tried to reverse the boat now after almost all the new hires to replace the mass outflux of retirees are fully remote and their local people are moving out of DC, there would be no boat left.

        I have a family member who is also fully remote, as is their entire agency. Same thing, if the expectations changed to office based, they would have zero people left.

        1. Delurking for this*

          Same thing, if the expectations changed to office based, they would have zero people left.

          This is another one of these statements I keep hearing, but for which I do not actually think there is much evidence. Have you really surveyed everyone in a big government agency?

    3. Llama Identity Thief*

      Office based fed. We don’t have hardcore requirements, but have been greatly encouraged by our division head to start coming into the office at least 2 days a week. However, there is still plenty of flexibility – our choice of what those days are (outside of Friday), and a really easy ability to say “hey I’m feeling under the weather/have pest inspection coming by/et cetera” and choose to WFH for the day. Zero complaints from anyone in my orbit, and I have it easy as my commute is about 12 minutes long. I’m adding an extra day a week in office because I find myself far more productive in office than at home.

      1. The Fed AO*

        Remote fed. They gave us a choice at my agency, remote for everyone or telework if you were within 50 miles of our two offices. We had just signed a new lease and they started revamping the new space when the pandemic hit. So now most of us work remote since during the pandemic the majority of people hired are not within 50 miles for the offices or with in the same state. A lot of people have moved to other areas to be nearer to family or to take advantage of a lower cost of living. I don’t think they will make those people move to come into the office that would be a lot of relocation money to pay out.

        1. Maglev No Longer to Crazytown*

          I think some of it too is having to offer the remote in order to attract top talent in many fields, as the majority of those people could be making >2x in private sector. Having no commute and excellent work-life balance helps easily balance out that scale when the fed is never going to be able to fully compete on salary alone. (Saying this as a fed from private industry, with family member in same situation).

    4. Just Anothet Tired US Fed*

      Another Fed here. My agency is regressive and not competitive in hiring because of requiring butts in seats when the trend is definitely remote work and there are more remote only positions than ever. We don’t deliver health care or work directly with the public either.

      Note that in areas like DC there is pressure to return to offices because of the impact on surrounding businesses.

      1. Giant Kitty*

        “ Note that in areas like DC there is pressure to return to offices because of the impact on surrounding businesses.”

        Why is it the responsibility of office workers to negate the impact on surrounding businesses that might go extinct because the way people work is now changing? When one decides to start a business that serves a certain community, area, or demographic, one is taking the risk that the needs of that community/area/demographic will change in a way that causes one’s business to become obsolete, and it’s not the responsibility of the customers to never have changing needs just so that company stays in business.

        If government is worried about losing those businesses, they can figure out a way to revitalize the area without requiring day to day workers to risk their & their families health & lives, or overloading our already overburdened healthcare system even further.

    5. Aunt Vixen*

      Similar: I’m a contractor embedded in a federal office. Our federal colleagues had a choice of going 100% remote (and taking locality-based pay cuts if they moved to lower COL areas) or remaining on telework, in which case they’d have to come into the office I think twice per pay period. Above a certain level of seniority, the remote option was not available. For our contract, although it is true our particular jobs could (as the past 30 months have shown) be done from literally anywhere, we were not offered the remote option – mainly because if the job could be done remotely, which it can, it wouldn’t be long before someone asked why they were paying DC money for work they could technically get from someone in Peoria. (Likewise, we are not in any rush for our jobs to be federalized, because then we’d be competing with 10-point-preference veterans in less expensive interior states.)

    6. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      Also a fed. Going back next month, only 1 day a week required in office. We also have people working from various other states who are FT remote/only occasionally in the office.

    7. Emby*

      also a DC-based Fed. we’ve been 1 day a week since past June, but my office is incredibly flexible (not sure how others in my bureau or agency are). the union recently won us the ability to apply to be remote, but management is highly discouraging it if there isn’t a good reason (not living in the area and health being good reasons). i feel really silly going in one day a week to just sit alone with my computer wearing a mask, but the bar for skipping an in-day is so low (i’ve skipped for the potential of kid being sent home from daycare due to sniffles) that i can’t really complain.

    8. FedToo*

      My agency took a hybrid approach. Headquarters folks could chose and most went 100% remote, duty station is our home address, and many moved out of DC. The state offices are hybrid for all that can reasonably do remote work but need to come in 2 days a PP.

      The state locations are very annoyed and every HQ job opening has dozens of applications even for lateral moves.

    9. The New Wanderer*

      Another fed here – our agency initiated some return to office last spring (minimum 1 or 2 days per pay period, depending on union contracts which are currently in flux). A lot of people applied for reasonable accommodation to remain 100% remote over the summer. We also just had the opportunity (again, dependent on union) to apply for 100% permanent telework, although those have not gone through the 4-level approvals yet. There are some rumblings that not everyone’s request will be approved but the criteria have not been released (or probably developed) to determine who gets 100% TW and who doesn’t.

      My personal arrangement is I’ll make an effort to go into the office when my manager and at least a few others do (so roughly once a month), and attend any site visits which count toward “office time” as needed. The commute is roughly 45 min (range of 30 min -1.5 hours) and 99% of my work is online so going in person has a decent time/money/effort cost and no value unless there’s a specific in-person meeting.

    10. Gracie Fed*

      DC based fed here. Some people in my agency have been able to go fully remote, but for many jobs we are now “2 days per-pay-period in the office”. It’s written into our new union agreement, so this is how we’ll be working for the long run.

      Some of us are in the office most days; that includes lots of us with short commutes and small condos with slow cable internet.

    11. Yet another Fed*

      I also work for the federal government. At my agency, we’re still on voluntary re-entry, meaning we can go into the office if we want, but we don’t have to. As of the end of 2022, though, there’s an exception that your supervisor can require you to come into the office on a specific day if there’s a good reason, like if the Hill wants you to give an in-person briefing. Our union is currently negotiating with leadership on long-term plans.

      1. Shiny*

        Embedded federal contractor. I was embedded in a DC-based OU for my agency until November, and everyone was categorized as maximum telework eligible. In theory it varies across OU based on determining factors, but the vast majority are classified as hybrid, which in practice means telework and a very occasional day in the office.

        I just transferred to a different OU of the same agency and am based abroad. Here, there is no telework allowed, as higher ups weren’t happy with performance during covid. They even commissioned an assessment of the telework policy and ignored the recommendations.

        Meanwhile, my home company has gone yet a different way. They’ve split us all into teams and each team gets two days per week they are supposed to be in the office. For embeds, like me, we’re expected to go into the nearest office one day per month when US-based. They’re offering a lot of perks to get people in, but it’s also a hotdesking scenario, which no one likes. And for those of us embedded with a client it doesn’t make any sense. The reduction for us to one day per month was after much feedback about how no one wanted to go into their office to sit on video calls with the people we actually work with on a day to day basis.

    12. Avril Ludgateaux*

      When you say “the Fed” do you mean the federal government (whether directly or in a contractor role) or do you specifically mean the Federal Reserve?

  5. Maude*

    State government employee here, my agency is WFH except one day per week. There is no indication that we will be returning beyond that.

    1. Maude*

      To follow up, pe-Covid we were 100% on sire. We have gone from three days in office, to two, and now one over the past year. I think leadership realizes this is necessary to retain and attract employees.

    2. New state job*

      Starting a state government job. It was advertised as one day in the office each week. Got the offer letter and now the whole office is moving to two days a week. I hope this isn’t a pattern and that more established coworkers will push back!

    3. Sangamo Girl*

      I work for the state of Illinois. Our union recently negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding that codifies the rules for remote work. It will also be negotiated into our Master Contract that will become effective July 1, 2023.

      My agency is only required to be in the office one day per week. Because our work requires so much time on the road, that effectively means that some folks never come into the office because they can schedule meetings elsewhere for their office days. This is particularly important to folks who would otherwise be required to commute into the Chicago Loop and pay exorbitant daily parking rates.

      I’m hoping that it helps us a little bit in recruiting. Our benefits used to be stellar and now they aren’t. At least we can offer workplace flexibility.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        The commute part is a point I have been making all along: not so much the cost of the commute and parking, but the implied requirement to live within a plausible commuting distance. If there is a real reason to require one day a week, then sure: there you go. But if there is not, you open up vast new possibilities. Even if you require the worker live in the state, someone who wants to live in Cairo now can work for you. I have no specific knowledge, but I will go out on a limb that speculate that the cost of living in Cairo is vastly lower than anywhere within a plausible commute into Chicago.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Interesting that you pick Cairo, which is basically a dead town… your overall point is valid, but I don’t know that anyone WANTS to live in Cairo.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            Speaking as another Illinoisian, it could open up opportunities for Cairo (and Cairo-adjacent) residents to get better jobs without the significant (and frequently, unobtainable) cost of moving. And if they wanted, they could move later once they were doing better, and still keep the same job.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              This. Honestly, I (not an Illinoisian) picked Cairo because it is as far as you can get from Chicago while still being in the state. But more generally, rural and small town America is dying out because there is so little economic opportunity due to big-picture shifts in technology. Many people leave because they want to see the bright lights and big city, but others leave because they don’t really have a choice, if they want to make anything of their lives. Genuine WFH would give them this choice, but hybrid, with one day a week in the big city downtown office? That will just extend the exurbs a bit further.

            2. ThatGirl*

              Oh, I’m all for state jobs (most jobs!) being remote. I agree that it could help someone move out of smaller or poorer communities. I just thought Cairo, specifically, was an interesting choice.

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                I just looked it up. I never realized how small it is. I live in what I consider a very modestly sized semi-rural semi-exurban county seat municipality. Its population is ten times that of Cairo. I never would have guessed. I wonder if it was larger, or at least more important, in the Mark Twain riverboats era, and it stuck in my mind as a significant place. But looking at the Google satellite image, it clearly never was large.

                And yes, American Gods. That too.

                1. Sangamo Girl*

                  It was quite important when rivers were still the major transportation system. Alas, that was long ago.

                2. RabbitRabbit*

                  It’s got a very interesting (in a very sad way) history, so picking it as an example was an accidentally brilliant choice. Assuming a resident there has a stable Internet connection (not necessarily a good assumption), a decent job that allows WFH is potentially life-changing.

                3. ThatGirl*

                  Tiny and dying more every year, hence my surprise :) it maxed out around 15k people I think.

            3. Sangamo Girl*

              This. Illinois does not have a variable pay scale. Folks working in Chicago make the same amount that folks working in Cairo do. (CARE-o. Not KAY-ro or KIH-ro for the uninitiated.)

              It is hard to get licensed professionals (MDs, RNs, attorneys, architects, engineers, CPAs) anywhere in the state. It is especially hard if they have to live in Chicago. WFH allows us to have a small recruiting advantage and spread the jobs out to places that need the population and work. Right now, many of the jobs in rural counties are in pris

            4. Wilbur*

              It seems like it’s already been great for Peoria. I’ve been seeing plenty of posts on our subreddit, “Just moved here from Oregon/California/Texas/XXXX”. I think this could be a great thing for small/medium sized cities overall. After Amazon made a big show of accepting bids for their 2nd HQ, everyone said it was always going to be NYC because of the labor market. Expand your labor market nationally, let people work remote, and if facetime is so important, fly everyone in somewhere twice a year.

            5. Anonymous for this*

              Again, be careful what you wish for. You may indeed find your company hiring people working from home in Cairo.

              Cairo, Egypt, that is. Where salaries are a lot lower than anywhere in the US.

              1. Ismonie*

                I mean, outsourcing is a thing? Not sure how wfh affects that, or why we should be careful. People in Egypt gotta work too!

      2. The Dude Abides*

        Fellow State of Illinois employee here – current in a non-union role, but trying to get back into one for a litany of reasons, this being one.

        As I alluded to below, I am not allowed to offer the flexibility of a WFH schedule. I and most of my reports can WFH if there are extenuating circumstances, but my superiors want butts in seats and I very much do not have the political capital to push back.

      3. Just Anothet Tired US Fed*

        You still have free health insurance, so that’s pretty stellar to me! You don’t see that anywhere anymore, and we pay quite a bit in the Federal service.

        1. The Dude Abides*

          Free? Citation needed.

          The amount taken out of my check didn’t change much when I switched from the private sector, and under the previous governor a number of local medical offices made patients pay more upfront since they might not have been reimbursed for months or years.

        2. Norm Peterson*

          Another state of IL worker (in a university but still part of the state) – we do pay a little bit for our health insurance. It’s half the cost of what I was paying for 2 people at a corporate job I left the university system for (and went back to university because that expensive insurance wasn’t going to cover a whole lot).

          1. Norm Peterson*

            And I have to pay out of pocket at the dentist and wait to get reimbursed by delta dental. They’re only about 4-5 months behind now but that is a long time to wait for $300.

            1. m2*

              Please look at the debt in Illinois due to government overspending salaries/healthcare/ pensions. Illinois is in SO much debt and doing nothing to change it. They should to start making cuts including making people pay more for healthcare.

              I have family in Illinois who all worked in some sort of government including in schools. They all retired in their early 50s and have an excellent pension and barely paid anything for healthcare.
              One of these family members worked part-time in schools most of their career, got a masters at an online ‘school’ and ended up working a few years full time as an administrator. The pension was based on the FINAL salary even though they only made that for a couple years. It is not- sustainable.

              1. The Dude Abides*

                Norm, lay off the kool-aid and Wirepoints.

                Doing nothing? Under the previous governor, yes. The past four years, give me a break.

              2. Sangamo Girl*

                The Illinois pension system was changed/benefits reduced over a decade ago. The system is very stable but is no longer a useful recruiting tool. Hence the crashing numbers of applications for state employees and public teachers. And the need for remote work as a recruiting option.

    4. AnonForThis*

      County government employee here. At least for my role, we’ve scrapped all return-to-the-office plans and we are officially permanently remote. It was explained as a mix of “it’s been working fine for years” and “we think permanent remote work will help with recruitment”.

      I think the only disappointment is that the decision wasn’t made sooner, so people could have moved to the less-expensive outskirts of the city early in the pandemic. (I see it as a particular win for one of my coworkers with mobility issues, since the county was refusing to make accessibility modifications they needed.)

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      Also state government here. Our governor is pro WFH (means more people could work for our agencies without moving). But each agency is allowed to determine their level of remote work. Mine requires 2 days in office per week (unless your position requires more or is classified as remote). We get to choose the days.

      We are awaiting assignment of a new Secretary for our agency. So, it could stay the same or change. (Many of us are hoping for fewer in-office days.)

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        We’ve always had some remote workers, but they were more likely to be contractors, LTEs, and/or part-time.

    6. Bookmark*

      I also work in state government. A large share of our workforce is unionized, and contracts are due for renegotiation relatively soon. In the meantime, we are in the midst of a lengthy “hybrid pilot” where people can establish a hybrid work schedule in negotiation with their managers. Managers can’t randomly decide people need to be back in the office full time– they must document a need to be in person or document that working from home has had negative impacts on an employee’s ability to meet performance metrics. As a result, the degree of work from home varies across the government based on job duty. Most people in area are in the office a day or two a week, though some come in more often. We’ll see how that changes after the next round of contract negotiation, but I don’t see us going back to full time in person any time soon. We, like most government agencies, are hemorrhaging staff due to retirements and offering WFH flexibility is a much easier way to try to stay competitive with the private sector than increasing salaries.

    7. Really?!*

      State government employee. Our governor is anti-WFH but it is not politically prudent to say so. Thanks Covid. Instead, agency heads have been given the authority on WFH to determine if employees can WFH. At our agency it is further sub-divided by department. My department has 2 scheduled days a week in office and “more if you need to.”

      The political winds at my agency say this will be it for awhile (I don’t know about forever) so much so that WFH is being mentioned as a perk for job applicants.

    8. Ismonie*

      State government here also, two days a week. I wish it could be two a month, or as needed, at least for my dept.

  6. Gatekept*

    We’ve been told three days a week in office since fall, baring usual reasons to wfh, no else’s manager seems to care at all, and most folks maybe do one or two days if they bother at all. My team’s manager is in at least 4 days a week and comments all the time about “how well we are doing with the 3 day requirement”…

    A town hall showed that very senior people want to see more butts in chairs, probably to justify the cost of the buildings, even if those buildings don’t have enough desk for everyone to be in all at once

    1. Gatekept*

      up until fall it had been a very vague, please come in at least once and a while, and I expect the requirement will become stricter soon

    2. sacados*

      Kind of a similar situation for me! Early this year, they sent out a communication basically saying that “we want people to start gradually transitioning back in and by April you should be Tues-Thurs in the office, with Monday and Friday as optional WFH days.” And then followed that up in April with another “OK so now that we’re all officially back 3 days a week …”
      The nice thing was that despite the emails, it was left very much up to each person/team/manager whether to actually follow that or not, absolutely no pressure or enforcement (at least at my location, it’s a very large company). So there’s been lots of freedom to flex or work remote however you need — ie “ok team I’m gonna be wfh all this week due to xyz family situation.”

      But my team was in a similar situation to yours, in that they assigned us a “neighborhood” of desks for the team as a whole, but that didn’t actually have enough seats if everyone were to come in on the same day. I HATED having to do the hot desk thing, making the rounds of the area “is this desk open? Is anyone sitting here? How about this one?” every morning.
      The good news for us is that as of this week, my whole large department got moved over to a different office building where we actually have assigned desks! I can’t overstate how excited I am to finally have my own space again, and to be able to do things like keep a sweater at my desk because the office is always f$%ing freezing, haha. I enjoy being able to WFH how and when I want to, but this may be enough to get me coming in for more Mondays, at least.

      1. Future silver banker*

        I can relate to this. Our local office hired too many people to send the right signal to HQ. We have nowhere to seat them, and it is a nightmare trying to find a desk and set-up every time you come to the office

    3. Sally*

      I’m in biotech, and we’ve been in the office 2 days/week since around July/August. My team’s manager has asked us to come in on 2 specific days per week. I can only come in for one of those days, but it’s OK with my manager if I come in any other day. I don’t think he’s too worried if some weeks I only come in 1 day.

      However, his boss recently said something about how we COULD come in 3 days/week. My boss is taking that as optional for us unless there’s a bigger push from above.

      I really don’t want to come in more than 2 days/week for two main reasons: (1) it will increase my parking bill because, while we get a stipend, it doesn’t cover more than 1 day/week of parking and (2) I’m still recovering from the stress of the pandemic, and it’s often a big effort for me to get out of the house. I think ultimately it will be good for my mental and physical health to be out of the house and around people, but while I’m getting there, I need to be able to have some flexibility.

      1. Gatekept*

        I wish we would just do two days! the third day is the real drag and there is at least some value to being in for a couple days, even if the value add is less than the cost of getting everyone in and hit to productivity. but by the third day its all drag and no benefit

  7. Chauncy Gardener*

    My company is completely remote and set up to stay that way. All employees work from home and the company provides a home office allowance as well as laptops. We do have one or two in person meetings per year, though. They are not mandatory to attend, but it is strongly encouraged. These meetings really help the team to know each other and builds some nice bonds across the company.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Sorry, to add the info that Alison requested, my company has always been set up this way, so there has been no change.

  8. MP*

    I work in city government and we’ve been asked to come into the office for half our scheduled work week, ie 20 hours. It’s a little silly because it’s by hours, not days, so it results in people working two days for 10 hours or 3 days and over the minimum time.

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Do you think that it’s due to public perception — the public wants to see workers at desks because “tax dollars being spent!”?

      1. Giant Kitty*

        Personally, I’d rather see my tax dollars not wasted by forcing people to be in office when they don’t need to be.

      2. Avril Ludgateaux*

        I also have a government job and I’m 1000% sure this is it. Of course, for the work we do and the population we work with, our virtual services were an enormous advantage for them. The shift made it so much easier for them to access our services. We got commendations from the state and from other counties for our exemplary transition to virtual services and how we were able to maintain and in some populations improve our level of service, retention, and outcomes. All that to say, it’s not our actual customer/constituent base who are complaining about us being remote. Instead it’s the people who probably also complain that the mere existence of our office is a waste of their tax dollars.

        (Nobody out there is complaining about the $350,000 salary of our local-level executive, though. That pays for 7+ of our (severely underpaid) staff. But that’s neither here nor there…)

    2. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I also worked for a city (I’m in private now, same field).
      During the pandemic and through the end of 2021, working from home was a decision of each manager/department head. So you could be doing a similar job but be required to be in the office 100% or WFH 100%.

      They shut down all buildings from March 23 until May 4 and only a few people worked during this period (city manager, police, etc).

      My section was back in the building but not open to the public from May 4 to Sept 2020. Other sections worked from home during this time but we could not.

      In Sept 2020, all city buildings reopened to the public. But each department could decide if their employees could work from home.

      My section was not allowed to WFH at all. The reason they gave is that not everyone had a work computer and they could not afford to give one to everyone and it had to be a work computer for security reasons. We did not deal with or access any sensitive material or files. And other departments were able to work from home on their own devices; even those working with more sensitive materials.

      It was a huge source of discontent (with many, many others).

    3. ArtsNerd*

      My city agency provides in-person customer services, so we were always going to be brought back. The issue is that the mayor’s rush to reopen pushed us to do so way to early, and now we’re expanding our hours without nearly enough staff. Our front line staff are furious. Understandably so.

      I am back office and most people in my department can and have worked full time remote, but we’re all THRILLED to be back in the office 3 days a week. We missed being around people, and our coworkers in particular. We have also have flexibility to take unscheduled telework if life happens.

      And yes, there is ABSOLUTELY more team bonding and casual collaboration than there would be remotely. For some offices, it’s BS, but not for ours. People on my team who were onboarded during the pandemic are doing work that is noticeably better, I suspect between improved mental health and the amount of idea sharing that happens when we shoot the shit.

      I’m meeting a bunch of new people in person for the first time. I’m FAR more likely to send them a message on teams for whatever reason than when they were just a name and tiny photo off in another department.

      Different people have different needs, and different workplaces have different cultures. I need the split schedule to do my best, and am SO grateful to have it here.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        Another thing that happens with more frequency than would over teams is institutional knowledge sharing. I’ve learned soooo much about why things are the way they are in spoken conversations.

        And certainly not a single one of these conversations is only in-person because Teams messages are FOIA-able… nothing at all….

        1. ArtsNerd*

          (Alison, you can excerpt my comments — and please correct the typo! — except for the complaint about the Mayor and the FOIA comment. I trust THIS commentariat to understand that we don’t put everything in writing because of humor, snark, loss of nuance and public optics and not because of any misbehavior.)

        2. ArtsNerd*

          Annnd I just thought of another thing that often gets glossed over in these think pieces:

          So many of them assume a white collar workforce is also a very tech-savvy, Very Online workforce. That is far from true in a number of industries, including my agency. I have many colleagues who are bad with tech and VERY relieved to move back to using it only for their core work functions and not absolutely-freaking-everything-all-the-time.

  9. anonymous state employee*

    Not for my employer – my current telecommute agreement continues through calendar-year 2023, and all indications I’ve heard make it sound like that is planned to continue indefinitely. The Facilities folks are currently working on a plan to reduce my employer’s footprint in the headquarters building, in fact, and knowing the elephantine pace such changes follow, that makes me pretty confident that telecommuting will be here for a good while longer.

    In full disclosure, I work for a state agency in a state that just reelected a Democratic governor, which absolutely has an impact on where and how state employees are expected to work. I had my retirement paperwork completed and ready to submit on November 9 if the election had gone the other way, because there is no way on earth that I will ever agree to return to butts-in-seats at the state office building.

    1. anonymous state employee*

      Sorry, I didn’t see Alison’s ROE for this until I posted my comment.

      My state in general and my agency in particular was nearly 100% in-person butts-in-seats before the pandemic. We went to nearly 100% telecommuting in mid-March 2020, with only essential public-facing staff still required to work in the office.

      Starting in July 2021, the agency experimented with a hybrid approach where everyone was required to be in-office at least two days per week. It was applied on a broad-brush basis with no consideration given to how productively a person was able to be telecommuting, nor to whether they needed to collaborate frequently with others. Attrition soared, and a significant majority of those departing cited this requirement as a reason to leave.

      In November 2021, the agency walked back the hybrid requirement and said that as long as critical tasks could be performed adequately by a telecommuting employee, staff would be allowed to return to 100% remote. This has been in place ever since, and this is the situation that I expect to continue for at least the next four years (our state’s next gubernatorial election is in November 2026).

  10. *

    I work for a large science nonprofit. My group is not requiring being back in person though the top down guidance is that it would be nice to be in person 1-2 days a week. The nonprofit has also expanded the number of states we support remote in.

    1. Coenobita*

      I also work for a big nonprofit (US-based, but we also have international offices) and that’s the case for us, too. The org is “studying” the situation and will apparently reassess in a few months.

      I personally like going into the office a day or two per week for some variety but most people are still almost 100% working from home. Our staff is so distributed geographically that it’d be hard to make a case for in-person collaboration as a key reason for return-to-the-office; I spend most of my day on calls with people in other time zones so where I am doesn’t matter too much.

    2. DJ*

      It varies where I work. At the moment it’s 1 day per week aiming for 2. But depends very much on the manager/director. Some teams are coming in monthly, others weekly. Other sections are pretty much all remote. But it’s not intended that we’ll ever go back full time.
      There is the issue of coming in to find most won’t be in making the whole collaboration thing pointless.
      A big issue is the centralisation of offices at work to 1 location, away from the CBD area, which involves commutes over several forms of public transport for most.
      We have hot desking, can store our work laptops in lockers at work and access work systems on our home computers via Citrix.

    3. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

      Small science non-profit and we are fully remote. The big boss was going to bring us back 1-2 days a week but then backed off last year, I think, b/c they learned that people would leave if that was the case. Going into the office for one-offs is dependent on supervisors. Some teams NEVER go in, others do based on projects. Another friend at a medical non-profit are back one day a week for “collaboration” which is really just butts in seats.

  11. Nathan*

    Yes- beginning Dec 1, my company required us to work in office 2 days a week. They gave teams the flexibility to decide which days those would be, but it applies to all teams, and the rationale given was to increase collaboration.

  12. SuperDoctorAstronaut*

    It’s funny — my company just FINALLY released an official WFH policy that basically states all employees are allowed to work remotely at their own discretion, but that their management may request their presence in-office when necessary. With that in mind, my department has insituted a monthly staff meeting where we’re required to be in office when possible. It’s not unreasonable, but I find that I get very little work done on days I go into the office now because I no longer have a permanent space there with monitors, etc.

    1. Ktoo*

      That’s actually the main reason why I’ve never gone into the office, even when I could have for a day here or there. With no permanent desk I don’t have a dock, keyboard, mouse, monitors, headset, all the post-its that are stuck up with notes, pens, paper, charger for my phone, etc…. I’d have to bring a box of extra stuff as well as my laptop, large purse, lunch, and all sorts of random things I’ve gotten used to not carrying with me.

    2. Sally*

      That would be rough! My team has tiny desks, but we get two monitors each and a small amount of space for stuff – for me that’s a couple pairs of shoes, a set of silverware, pens, small tube of lotion, mini Slinky.

    3. The Original K.*

      This is what my department is doing, an all-hands day once a month. I also find that I’m less productive on those days.

  13. UKgreen*

    We (at a company in the UK) are being asked to be in the office at least two days a week. Lots of people are in more than that up to and including full time, while others are begrudgingly in once or twice a week, and others are not complying either because of commute distance, anger at the total lack of proper hot desking setup or other reasons related to things like childcare.

    To be completely honest I think they’re seeing how people respond to see whether we need to still retain the gigantic old building we occupy and which must cost a small fortune (in both £££ and carbon footprint) to heat, light, maintain etc. or whether some of it can be sold / leased out if there is smaller need for office spaces.

    1. londonedit*

      This is similar to our situation (also UK) except that I don’t think the company would give up the building entirely. Our office has been open for people to go in voluntarily since mid-2021, and two days a week has been (supposedly) mandatory since mid-2022. Most people are in at least one day a week, if not two, and some people do three/four days (you’re guaranteed your own desk for two days a week, and then you can book space on a hot desk if you want to go in over and above that). Practically no one goes in on a Friday. A small number of people have quietly refused to come in at all and as far as I can tell nothing has really been done about that. Most people seem to work on the principle that as long as it’s OK with their line manager, they can pick a schedule that works for them. The policy has basically been in place since 2021 (the only difference being it’s now meant to be mandatory for everyone) and I can’t see it changing anytime soon. They want people to go into the office at least some of the time, but I think they realise they can’t force people to go back to full-time office work.

      1. Rosie*

        Not for quotation: I’m also in the UK, working for an employer who expects us to come into the office four days a week; they feel they’re being generous allowing us a day from home, more with managerial discretion. Generally this is ignored so HR sometimes cuts system access to force people to show up. At a mandatory internal event last spring over half of the attendees caught covid, which the business took no responsibility for. Second, before the first train strike last fall, an all-hands email went out at 5 pm the night before basically saying ‘be that as it may, you still need to come in tomorrow’ and then management/HR were surprised no one showed up. I expect major turnover after bonus season.

        1. Giant Kitty*

          I kept gasping with every sentence as it got worse & worse, but the last one- how did they expect people who rely on public transportation to get there with no public transportation? Fly?

      2. Anon for this*

        Also UK
        Pre-pando our policy was max up to 2 days a week WfH and most people would be in office 3-4 days a week.
        Now it’s moved to min. 2 days a week in office with core days for different teams so we are in together and collab. Most people are coming in twice weekly but not the full time although recently they started cracking down on this a little. It’s mainly for F2F meetings which end up being hybrid as couple of people didn’t schlep in like the rest and it ends up being quite frustrating for those of us in.
        I think for the jobs we do being in 2 days make sense as we try and hold a lot meetings for collaborative work then.
        What i wouldn’t appreciate is having to schlep in if I don’t have any F2F meetings and all on zoom – partly as commuting into central London is a pain and I lose 2.5 hours in travel and partly as my desk is in an open plan office so not set up for doing lots of zoom calls all day. At the moment they seem quite sensible about giving us the flex we need on this
        Our company is US owned and had over the last 3 years hired a bunch of people for our head office who were based on the East coast. They’ve now been told to relocate to be in west coast HQ (despite us having some offices on East coast too) and we’ve lost a few people because of this, not all have been replaced. I’m quite surprised by this as they’d fairly recently moved to remote contract for some global employees and this feels a step back from that.

        1. cAPSLOCK*

          Also UK – my partner is at a university (administrative not academic) and they’ve had a mandatory minimum of one day a week mandatory since return to offices. Each team picks a day so that everyone is in across the team. But yes now there are mutterings about two days minimum.

          My public sector employer which is split-site anyway is still fully “hybrid”, which for people like me with a long commute pretty much means fully remote unless I have external meetings. They have organised a once a month “team day” which aims to encourage us back a bit more. And I support that, because I’ll make the trip if colleagues will be there, but at present I just have the “do my zooms from less
          comfy location” problem if I do go in.

          1. Antony-mouse*

            I have a question about this as a university student. So far I’ve got a lot more of my problems solved by going to speak to various administrators than I have by sending emails. Does he interact with students and does this factor into his presence in the office? Because I personally would really like it if all the admin staff at my Uni that I need to interact with were in as much as possible because the interactions are just so much easier, quicker and more positive

            1. FloralWraith*

              I work in admin side at a London university, though in communications as opposed to education (but we all sit together and I also manage our faculty shared inbox).

              When you send an email, it probably gets put into a giant shared inbox. Depending on how many students are emailing, this gets actioned in order of oldest (our big undergraduate inbox has a three-working day response for a few thousand students, for example).

              You going in person (or calling but I rarely saw that before the pandemic) essentially jumps the big queue because you are an immediate issue to solve right there. If all the admin came back full-time and all the students decided to solve issues in-person, it would probably go back to being slow.

    2. UKDancer*

      Yes I’m in a UK company and we’re asked to be in at least 2 days per week which suits me fine (at the moment this is slightly affected by the regular train strikes meaning a lot of people are struggling to get into London).

      I like having some time in the office and some things are definitely easier in the office and some are easier from home. I found lockdown and working remotely 5 days per week really difficult because I have a small flat and went stir crazy being locked down. I like a mixture really.

      Interestingly a lot of our new people want to be in the office more, as do junior staff. I’m firmly of the view that in London a lot of the office v home preferences are more about your home environment than anything else. A lot of junior people are in shared houses / flats and have less than ideal home working setups so they are more comfortable in the office.

      1. londonedit*

        Completely agree. The way things tend to be in London, most of the more senior staff live further away and therefore don’t want to commute in five days a week; the more junior staff live closer to central London so commuting is easier, plus they live in house/flatshare situations (especially on publishing money) so they’d much rather come into the office than work from a small bedroom. We’ve also had a lot of reports from new people – again especially younger new people in entry-level roles – that they’d prefer to be in the office because it allows them to learn from the environment and see what everyone else is doing. I don’t have any real desire to do that because I’m nearly 20 years into my career and well established, but I can absolutely see how it’s different if you’re just starting out.

        I used to be in the office five days a week most weeks before Covid – we’ve always had good flexible working policies so a lot of people would WFH one day a week anyway, and it was always fine for me to WFH if I had a big set of proofs to get through or whatever. Now I do one day a week, sometimes two, and that’s fine for me. My flat is small but I like my setup here and it’s quiet (I feel like I get more done when I’m at home because when I’m in the office people are always dropping by for a chat and there’s general hubbub that makes it harder to concentrate) but I do like going into town once or twice a week because half the point of living and working in London is getting to enjoy the city.

      2. Media Monkey*

        (reposting from below as my comment ended up in the wrong place!)

        totally agree. we are in central london and are hybrid 3 days in office (mandatory tues and thurs, other day is flex) and wfh 2 days. during the lockdowns we found that junior staff and new starters really struggled to engage and learn – so much of what you learn is picked up by hearing how colleagues interact with each other/ other teams/ talk on the phone. i would agree that not having a good place to work in a shared flat (or fmaily home in some cases) is contributing to that.
        we do tell people to work from home if they have a full day of calls or need to concentrate but a lot of our work is collaborative. and of course in recent train strikes, there’s been no expectation for people to come in.
        personally i would prefer 2 days in the office – it would save me a lot of money as the flexible train season tickets appear to be based on 8 days a month. but here we are!

  14. a tester, not a developer*

    In my company, it differs by department – which is causing a lot of tension, and is definitely triggering people to apply to departments that match their preferred work style.

    1. a tester, not a developer*

      Edit to add that it’s a change from how we’ve done things for the past few years – most teams went fully remote, and the essential staff had assorted rotations/schedules that met their needs. Now it’s all being imposed by senior management, who often don’t realize that their department may have 10 different teams with different needs.

      On top of people posting out, it’s definitely encouraged some people (myself included) to get our acts together and submit the paperwork for disability accommodation. For example, I work with someone who has frequent debilitating migraines. They discovered that working from home decreased the frequency and severity a lot. So now their putting in the accommodation paperwork to WFH. In the past we just didn’t have enough data to prove that WFH helped, but now we do.

    2. CL*

      My company has taken a similar approach. Early in the pandemic we had been requiring in-person work based on business need for the rare particular department or role has become more based on the management style of individual departmental leaders. Of course, there are some leaders that support remote work and others that expect people to come to the office which creates tension. I haven’t seen much internal movement as a result, but I do think it is adding to some people leaving the company.

    3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      This is how my company is working too. While official company policy is people who live near an office should go in 1-2 days a week, they only require people to do so 1-2 days a year. My team was under VP A and he was very adamant on two days a week in the office. Corp restructuring put us under VP B as if this week, and she was like do whatever makes sense for you and your situation. Fully remote, fine, in office fine. Just get your work done. We were all very happy to have her support.

      One big change is they are not hiring people who don’t live within an hour of an office.
      I was hired as a remote employee. While technically I do live 30 min from an office, it’s a totally separate division of the company, I’d never interact with anyone there. I wouldn’t be considered for the job I have if I was applying now. So I got super lucky I got hired when I did.

  15. CTA*

    I’m not at a tech company, but I am a Web Developer. I do notice with our open roles for Developers, the preference is hybrid at my workplace. I think part of the reason is tax liability. I’m in the US. It might also be people who just prefer face time with employees. IMO, it’s hard to justify not hiring more fully remote workers when you already have a few fully remote employees. It does make recruitment harder because of that. There’s no budget to fund occasional onsite visits for remote employees. It’s a non profit.

  16. Mike VA*

    D.C.: We’ve been going in once a week for the last few years (no changes), but yesterday (4 Jan 2023), the metro parking garage and downtown was the busiest I’ve seen it since pre-pandemic. So either everyone is getting lost going to the museums or people are starting to flirt with the idea of working from the office again.

    1. Eric*

      Also DC. Monday was a holiday and Tuesday was still a ghost town on Metro. I wonder if people had to shift work-from-office days to later in the week to make up for not going in Mon-Tues?

  17. Ranon*

    We’re at two days a week (up from one), not particularly enforced, once a month for folks who live a non commuting but drive able distance from the office and folks hired remotely are still fully remote.

    They started return to office requirements with leadership first, so high level folks have had in office requirements since the summer. I’ve heard basically every management level person have hallway conversations with folks they know have extenuating circumstances so it seems pretty flexible overall still.

    I’m in four days a week when I don’t have other life stuff going on because I’m a weirdo who likes working from the office.

  18. The Dude Abides*

    I work for state gov’t, and my department left it up to managers/supervisors. My boss is a “butts in seats” guy (and so are his superiors); I lost one of my reports over it and I’ve put in applications to transfer.

    We can WFH if there are extenuating circumstances, but it being baked into the schedule will not happen under any circumstances.

  19. I'm A Little Teapot*

    No change for me. My field is designed to work at clients and not in the office, so by definition we can work at home as well. Thus, its culture. In practice, where you work that day is determined by a mix of what you’re working on and personal preference. I could have worked from home most of this week and have been in the office because I wanted to get out of the house.

  20. Sharkey*

    My husband works for a well-known mutual fund investment company. Probably since last summer, they’ve had a policy of in-office work Tuesday-Thursday and WFH Monday and Friday. The message went out many times, they used free meals and other things to lure everyone back, and it was pretty much ignored.

    Just before the holidays, they issued a WE REALLY MEAN IT THIS TIME notice for January 1. Yesterday was the first day back, and apparently there were people there that my husband had never met before! It’ll be interesting to see if it sticks this time.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I started my current job during the pandemic, so even though we live in the same city it was over a year before I met my manager (at an optional team lunch). At another team lunch, I asked someone who they were; we’d worked closely on a major project, but I didn’t recognize him because his webcam doesn’t work.

  21. Prospect Gone Bad*

    Medium company, HCOL area.

    Not going back.

    The county kept extending lockdown rules and coworkers who had initially meticulously followed all of the rules and isolated grew frustrated and moved elsewhere. Now we have a housing and rental bubble and no one can afford to come back, executives don’t even want to pay these housing prices since everyone would be taking multiple steps back in quality of living just becuase landlords and home sellers have gotten delusional about asking prices (the delusional part is my opinion but everything else is based on conversations I’ve had).

    To top it off, office landlords aren’t budging on rent. I think commercial landlords can’t just hand out rent discounts. But since the rents are so ridiculous it doesn’t make sense to pay for a decent office at this point.

    My personal opinion is that this is more about a real estate bubble than anything. No one is complaining about commute time or anything, all anyone talks about is real estate costs. My guess is that we’d be doing a hybrid if costs weren’t an issue

  22. Curious Canadian*

    My company formally approved a hybrid model. Mon and Fri optional work from home, Tue,Wed, Thu, mandatory office days.

  23. Governmint Condition*

    At my government agency, the “temporary” WFH policy has been extended multiple times in 6-month increments. We were just informed that the latest extension will last only one month. We are expecting changes after that, but we don’t know what they’ll be.

  24. CanadianTechWorker*

    My company went remote at the start of the pandemic. We’re now fully remote but we aren’t a work from anywhere company due to what we do. Where you can work is limited to the US and Canada only. The company sold it’s physical offices and there are no plans to go back to working in person.

    We have 1-2 in person optional retreats a year.

  25. Massive Dynamic*

    Public accounting in CA – we came back from Covid with a hybrid structure, officially two days at home/three in the office. We keep it very loose though to give accommodation for sick kids, storms, etc. This has been the same structure since we came back from Omicron in spring 2021.

  26. Ragged and Rusty*

    Yep: in 2021 and early 2022 they had a policy of “just make sure we know where you are”
    Late 2022 they instituted “30 days of free WFH a year” but pointed out no one was tracking it.
    2023 they want us all in the office as much as possible. It hasn’t gone over amazingly yet and is up to the manager’s discretion. My manager said “If you aren’t sick and the roads are ok, try to come in at least once a week.” So we’ll see how it goes.

  27. Baby Yoda*

    My company moved in 2020 and we were all given the option to have a spot in the new building or work remotely. This has not changed, unless you are an officer of the company, you can work remotely.

  28. KM*

    We have one dude in upper leadership who keeps talking about how excited everyone is to come into the office, and everyone just accepts that he’s feeling lonely, because nobody else wants that. We’re having quarterly in-person gatherings now, which are new, and … okay? But they know from earlier attempts that forcing folks back in who don’t want or need to just results in people being cranky and looking to leave, so we’re feeling pretty safe in our now permanent mostly-remote arrangements.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      Yeah, my company’s headquarters is 800 miles away. A quarterly meeting would be fine with me, but it would mean an airline flight and hotel for me to attend.

  29. Essentially Cheesy*

    Food production company here; we stayed in-person the entire time at my location. There is more availability for WFH flexibility but for a position like mine where I support everyone, WFH has never been practical.

    Corporate office was completely WFH but now new job postings are calling from 2 day per week in-person work at the Corporate office.

  30. DisneyChannelThis*

    Post vaccination the majority of people returned to in person (Summer 2021). Recently, we have seen an increase in WFH requests again, primarily new parents or other immunocompromised trying to avoid the covid/rsv/flu wave right now.

  31. coachfitz13*

    I work for a state agency. We have been fully in-office since October 2020. I’m a department head and I allow my staff very flexible WFH options when needed.

    My son works for a different state agency and they are in-office 1 day per week, otherwise completely WFH. No foreseeable change to that arrangement.

    1. allathian*

      I work for a governmental agency in Finland. Most people were fully remote from March 2020 to September 2021, with the obvious exceptions like the registry office and facilities management. After September 2021 people were allowed to come to the office as needed, without special permission from their manager. We had an unusually hot summer in 2021, and some of my coworkers preferred to work in the office with HVAC rather than from their hot apartments.

      Starting in October 2022, there’s a strong recommendation to go to the office 4 days a month, but whether it’s enforced or not depends a lot on the manager. My team of 22 employees is distributed between 7 different offices anyway, and our manager’s not at the head office where I am. I’m a translator, and my job doesn’t require much collaboration, and what little there is can mostly be done asynchronously (proofreading another translator’s work). We do have development days in April and October, when everyone’s expected to travel to the head office.

      I’ve been at my current job for 15 years and my closest coworker has also been there for nearly 10 years. We don’t need to see each other every day to work well together, particularly given that we mostly work independently.

      Some employees prefer working at the office, and they’ve been very happy to be allowed back. Our team expanded a lot during the pandemic, and there’s also been some turnover. The new hires have all said that they think it’s a lot easier to integrate into the team when we can see each other face to face at least occasionally.

      I go to the office sometimes, but so far I haven’t been 4 days a month and my manager hasn’t said anything. When I do go, I’m very open about prioritizing networking/socializing with my coworkers rather than attempting to focus on my work, which I could do so much better at home. So I take two 20-30 minute coffee breaks on company time, if I can find other people who are similarly inclined to network with, in the break room. I’m also not shy about taking 90-minute lunch breaks on my own time, if I can find someone else who wants to do the same to go to lunch with. I have far fewer meetings than most of my coworkers, so long lunches are easier for me to schedule than for most, and usually I end up taking an hour off for lunch, because that fits other people’s schedules better.

      I must admit that although I’ve never crossed so many items off my to-do list than when I WFH, going to the office occasionally has done wonders for my well-being at work. I’m pretty introverted, but during the isolation of the pandemic it got to be a bit much even for me. After a day at the office I may be more tired than after a day WFH, but at the same time I’m also happy to have seen my coworkers in person. Especially now that there’s some point in going to the office, because more people have started showing up since October 2022.

      To be fair, I’ve quit worrying about Covid. I’m vaccinated and I’ve had it once, and while I didn’t enjoy the exhaustion I felt for about a month afterwards, I’m no longer willing to either isolate myself completely, or to wear a mask except when I have a medical appointment. The vast majority of my coworkers feel the same, and while we still have sanitizer available everywhere, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, very few people are masked. But my employer’s very good about requiring people to WFH if they have any symptoms.

  32. King Friday XIII*

    My company encouraged people back in the fall and there’s supposed to be a point where we’re going to have to come in part time, but I asked not to have to for disability reasons, unofficially to my boss, so I’m not sure if I’m just not hearing anything further because she’s okay with me not coming in or because they’re not pushing it yet.

  33. Anon in nj*

    On paper if we can we’re supposed to be in twice a week but noone is truly enforcing it. My team is all remote so no one cares if I don’t go in regularly but the programmer team is mostly local so there’s more pressure for them to go in but again if people log in anyway it’s seems to be a non-issue

  34. IndyDem*

    I work at a biotech company. Pre-pandemic, we had 3 WFH days per week. Fully remote from beginning of March 2020 (there was a major outbreak at a company just down the street) until March 2022. At that point we had moved and out new space had less room for our department, so we went to only 1 office day every two weeks. And it has remained that way ever since. Even better for us – the one day is a set day, our team of 9 people have the same day, so you actually get to see the people you work the most with, and if that happens to be a vacation day – you don’t have to reschedule. Has made life so much easier, and much less expensive!

    1. Be kind, rewind*

      Ooooh, I would like this a lot. Especially the bit about everyone being there the same day so it’s worth coming in.

  35. Video killed the radio star*

    I’m in Germany and the places I know about (my new job, my husband’s job, my ILs jobs) all seem to be going with a hybrid schedule – either two or three days in the office and the other days remote, with the option always open to come into the office if you prefer. It seems that most places are pretty lax about actually enforcing this – at my husband’s office, anyone who wants to work from home just doesn’t show up in the office. At my new place, I worked from home for the first week because my husband was ill and I didn’t want to pass it on to my co-workers, and nobody even blinked an eye – my close team encouraged me to stay home!

    This is a *huge* shift for Germany, where remote work was pretty much unheard of before the pandemic. Because many workplaces here have a works council, the hybrid schedule is being written into contracts and workplace rules, so it won’t be easy to change any time soon.

    1. Melewen*

      I also work for a German company. They never offered remote work before, but Covid made that happen pretty quickly. When the government restrictions eased, the company and the works council started an official “test run” for remote work. Right now, if our job positions allow it, we can work from home two days a week, but a certain percentage of people from each team must be in the office every day.

      For my department, we can do about 90-95% of our jobs remotely. We do need a daily office presence, but one or two people per day in the office is enough to make sure all the mail and printed stuff gets distributed properly. I’d prefer four days at home, but most of my team would be content with three. Hopefully we get that at the end of the trial period.

    2. cluel*

      I’am from Germany too and i work in a small company with less than 50 employees. Before the pandemic home office was absolutley not possible in our company. With the first lockdown everybody moved into home office. Management saw that the productivity didn’t go down as expected. Some employees were even more productive. Now some people are in the office 5 days a week (if they want). Some do 2 days office 3 days wfh hybrid schedule. And others are working from home fulltime. We are not forced to come back and everybody can choose what suits them the best.

  36. Ormond Sackler*

    My company closed the satellite office I work at, went fully remote, and then decided to reopen a new office for the CEO and a VP to work out of. However, the CEO decided to purchase a house 90 minutes away from the office, and the VP doesn’t seem to want to move to the new city and has been dragging his feet for about a year. My manager works out of the office mostly alone, and has made it clear that he doesn’t care if I go to the office. Very few other people seem to go in.

    The new office isn’t laid out in a way that is easy to work in given that it’s an open office plan and we spend most of our time on calls, and the conference rooms are too small to be useful.

  37. SMH*

    I work in the public sector and we’ve actually seen a lot of entities offer MORE work-from-home options as a recruitment and retention incentive.

  38. High Score!*

    My company implements hotelling and we only come in office when we want to. All meetings have in house and video options. We have almost zero turnover.

  39. Spearmint*

    I work in state government. Nominally we were supposed to come back to the office full time September 2021, but the agency gave individual offices almost full discretion to make their own WFH policies in practice. My office has been coming in once per week for in person meetings, and even then there’s flexibility. There has been no change since 2021.

    I recently interviewed for a position at a (small) tech company and the person interviewing me said senior management had recently made a big push for everyone to be in the office full time I’d they live in the same city as their office (which I would be). Personally I would be ok with this but it sounded like a relatively recent change.

  40. Someguy*

    There is no recent change where I work – those employees who can work from home generally do work from home. A year or 18 months ago there a mandate came down from on high that they had to come in at least 1 or two days a week, but as far as I can tell, most come on site maybe monthly if we have a free food days (or for key meetings with boss or customer). Some not even then. Given that we have given their on-site office space to people who cannot work from home, I don’t expect much in the way of change

  41. Web Crawler*

    Yep, the company just instituted a 3-days per week in-office policy for anyone marked “hybrid”. Being hybrid means you get a parking space, not even a desk (it’s all hot desking). Previously, I was hybrid and only visited the office once a month. I marked myself “remote” during the pandemic, though.

    The official company line for hybrid workers is “mandatory 3 days in office per week”. My department head’s line is “come to the office if it’s relevant to you, I won’t penalize anyone”. My grandboss’s line is “don’t worry about coming into the office. Seriously, nobody else is doing it”.

  42. Rocky Mountain (not High)*

    I work for a tech company. In early 2020 (pre-pandemic), our asshole CEO made moves to pull back on existing work from home arrangements for employees that lived near offices because he personally enjoyed being in the office and wanted more company or something equally ridiculous and egotistical. At the beginning of the pandemic, we all went home and stayed home with full support of the company. They announced a flexible work policy in 2021 that was supposed to continue on, which stated that you could work from home or from the office as much or as little as you wanted, as long as it made sense for your job (at manager discretion, but manager guidance was heavily weighted towards employee choice). In mid-2022, they announced that anyone located near an office was expected to be in the office 2-4 days per week. Then our asshole CEO left towards the end of 2022 and the new CEO reinstated the fully flexible policy.

  43. Najek Yuma*

    My team is going from “only come into the office if you have specific things you need to do” to “must spend at least 1 full day of your choice each calendar month in the office” as of this month. This is obviously pretty mild as far as return-to-work requirements go, but this team went from fully on-site to fully remote when the pandemic started, and this is the first true back-in-office requirement we have had.

    Some people were in the office multiple days for month, but probably 3-4 out of my 10 reports basically never came into the office. But everyone knew when they were hired or moved onto my team that we would eventually be asking them to come back into the office at least occasionally.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Gosh, that seems like such a pointless requirement! I get the logic behind a real hybrid setup where you get some collaboration time every week, but in your case unless you all make a point of choosing the same day, you’re just taking turns going to the office alone once a month?

      1. Najek Yuma*

        My remote team of ~10 supports ~25 fully in-office employees. So the point is not necessarily that my team can internally collaborate, but so that they can take care of some things around the office that the in-office employees have been doing (filing, hunting down paperwork, etc.) and so that their faces are known to the in-office team rather than just being a faceless box on Zoom. So the reasoning is different from most in-office requirements, I think. We also don’t have room to support all 10 in at once, more like 4-5 max at a time (overall team has grown since COVID started and there aren’t enough cubes to go around nowadays). My team is very comfortable using zoom and IM for internal collaboration, but there are a few other things that are done better from the physical office.

  44. BellyButton*

    I quit my job when they decided I needed to come back to the office. I had been remote for years before the pandemic and it made no sense for me to be in office. I just accepted a new job with a company that has gone 100% remote. The CEO stated they sold the office and have reallocated that money to have a 2x a year in-person events. I don’t start my new job for a few more weeks but the people I have met so far are extremely happy with this decision.

  45. Volunteer Enforcer*

    Hmmm… my employer’s approach has largely stayed the same for my job and management, but changed for the support workers. As the receptionist I have always been expected to come to the office full time, however a change has come that I am allowed to work remotely or flex my hours for a doctors appointment. It is kind of the same arrangement for management, but not quite as they are allowed to decide to work remotely, either last minute or with notice if they have a lot of computer-based tasks to complete. The managers are salaried exempt in a sense, they may work extra hours at home into the evening. They have been granted more flexibility since lockdown. The support workers are on paper allowed to work from home at least as frequently as management, however they are closer to being required to work from the office. Plus most of them prefer working from the office to enable adhoc discussions and brain storming. So they have been given comparable flexibility but most prefer to not take advantage of it. My field is adjacent to social work – if this field is chocolate teapots then my field is biscuit teapots.

  46. Yeah…*

    Pre-pandemic I was fully remote for a startup that was on one side of the country and I was on the other. All the employees (about 20) were remote pre-pandemic. During the pandemic the owner/CEO slowly started hiring local staff and eventually there were more people than jobs and tasks so she basically picked fights with all the remote people until we all quit

  47. CharlieBrown*

    I work in an essential industry and my team went mostly remote at the start of the pandemic because that was a possibility for us. (You can work in a lab remotely, but our role does not involve working in a lab.)

    We are expanding, and it was decided to make my team permanently remote as there just aren’t enough desks for everybody. But we are adding another building in two years and I fully expect them to call us back in.

  48. Parenthesis Guy*

    My company says that they have an office, but I don’t believe them. We get together once or twice a year. No chance we’ll ever stop being fully remote otherwise.

  49. BuffaloSauce*

    I worked at a tech company from Sept 2021-Nov 2022 (left for a multitude of reasons). We were 100% in person for my the entirety of my employment. They cited “cultural reasons”. My role did require some in person tasks that could not be done from home. However there were times I could be 60-80% remote if need be. Their solution for this was to let us WFH twice a month. Even after a round of COVID hit the office so hard that 90% of the staff got it.

    It was tough place to work for many reasons. I didn’t necessarily mind being in office, as I am a person that doesn’t really mind a commute and working in a cubicle. However I felt like they could have let us work from home more. 2x a month felt a little more patronizing then helping out. Like “Oh you want to WFH, mmmm i dunno how about 2x a month?… That ok?”

    1. AllY'all*

      We had an entire department go down with COVID. There’s nothing like a deadly pandemic to throw a wrench in the “but water cooler conversations!” argument. The dead don’t collaborate.

  50. Sparkle llama*

    I work in public facing local government and never expected to be able to work from home routinely. My employer has realized if they want anyone to work here that they need to offer more flexibility and depending on job functions most office staff are allowed to work from home 1-2 days per week.

    I think the biggest thing preventing more work from home is keeping up appearances of working both for perceived fairness from people with jobs that can’t be done from home and the public who doesn’t want their tax dollars spent on paying people to work from home since they don’t think people are actually working.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Yeah, I’ve seen that reaction, too. The Canadian federal government just announced a return to the office and every time someone points out on social media or in the news that staff have continued to work the whole time, just from home, and that there hasn’t been a drop in productivity, there are comments from the public about how the staff need to stop being princesses and “get back to work” like “the rest of us.”

      1. Forty Years In the Hole*

        …because how else would fed govt landlords (aka PSPC) justify paying massive rent in near-empty office space? Or large cities spending $B to facilitate construction of wonky, over-budgeted LRT systems? Or local business owners whinging about loss of revenue because no one’s around to buy overpriced lunches? And because “the union has your back…

  51. Dumpster Fire 8675309*

    I work for a global financial company which used to be ranked as one of the best for remote work. New CEO and now all remote workers are being laid off in lots for the past year.
    My immediate team has gone from five and posting for a sixth person to now just me. My now former coworkers are working for the competition. Programmers, developers, support staff, sales people, and every job function there is has lost a tremendous amount of knowledge, client relationships, and morale.
    When I leave, no remote work is a dealbreaker.

  52. Person from the Resume*

    I have not seen a change in the last few months. I had not seen a change due to COVID either. But I have seen change …

    I work for the federal government. My WFH policy is set in my org several layers below the main department. When I joined around 10 years ago, my organization already had virtual teams. The people you worked with day to day could live anywhere in the US, and many folks worked from home. Weirdly around 5 years ago a leader was hired that insisted people work from an office if possible. They started calling WFH people back in if they lived “close enough” to one of the 7 or so offices in the US (which many people did because they had started off commuting to the office, but “close enough” is a relative term). Then in order to be “promoted” you had to apply for a new higher-level job and those jobs had requirements to go to an office.

    Well, the guy who was “butts in seat in an office” left quickly and slowly the policy started to return to allowing WFH as much as you wish. Then COVID happened, and we had little impact because so many people were already working from home and the small percentage that didn’t could easily be converted to WFH since the technology was already in place to support it.

    The federal government tends to be cyclical about a lot of policies and practices, but I think that they will keep moving towards embracing WFH policies. Since COVID it appears that one of my organization’s offices has been shut down so that’s one less office for people to go into.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I can’t think of anyone who has said that they don’t want to work from home.

      That said I wish that we could have occasional in person meetings (maybe once or twice a year). I don’t want to travel or buy new work clothes, but there are certain collaborative meetings, planning sessions that could be more productive or efficient in person. With people literally scattered all over the country that’s plane tickets and hotel rooms and funding for that has not been approved since well before COVID.

      We make do. Benefits of working from home wherever in the country you want is worth that loss of efficiency. No working from out of the country. You are also required to work from your designated home office. No vacationing , RVing across the country, working from a coffee shop for us.

      1. Amy*

        I don’t want to work from home full-time. It’s an incredibly distracting small place filled with the detritus of 3 young children.

        My office is the dining room table with a view of the kitchen. It does not help my focus to see all the items on my parent / home to-do list.

        1. Video killed the radio star*

          My husband has consistently chosen to go into the office even though the rest of his team has been full time WFH since the pandemic began. The only times he has stayed at home are when the government has issued mandates saying that if you can work from home, you must (we had several periods like that in Germany). Even at the height of the pandemic, we felt he was safe going into the office and he prefers it – he commutes by bike (so no risk of infection from transport) and appreciates the exercise, plus he functions better when there’s structure in his day and going to the office helps with that. He’s usually alone in his ostensibly shared office, so even when things were bad pandemic-wise, it didn’t seem any riskier than working from home.

      2. UKDancer*

        I don’t want to work from home all of the time. I like hybrid patterns because it allows me some time to work at home.

        We’ve had 3 new starters in the past 3 months in my company. Two of them wanted to be in the office most or all of the time because they are new graduates in house shares with no real home working space. It’s not uncommon in my company for people to prefer the office.

      3. Anonforthisforsure*

        I don’t want to work from home, at least not all the time. I’m fortunate to have a 15-minute commute and my own office, though.

      4. Person from the Resume*

        LOL, well, I meant no on on my team has ever said they didn’t want to work from home. All the recent hires (contractors not Fed employees) know that they will be working from home so there is something of a selection bias for people happy to work virtually most likely from home.

  53. 20 year Fed*

    I am a Federal Employee for almost 20 years, my entire career. I have seen huge shifts in telecommuting; when I first started I wasn’t even “allowed” a laptop, and to WFH we had to get special permission (this was back in the 2000s). Then there was an Administration shift to allowing up to four days a week WFH per supervisor approval. Then in 2017 a 100% opposite swing to 1 day per week WFH and a lot of people left or retired early. Since the pandemic and the current Administration we have been nearly 100% WFH if you want to or your job can be performed remotely, and in my Agency they are evaluating all positions to see if they can be designated as remote eligible, so 100% remote. It is a huge shift, and most employees support it.

    1. jami*

      Have moved around the Federal government and the policies are agency dependent. Am currently with a non-executive branch and we’ve been 100% telework since the pandemic began; that is aside from people who had to go into the office to use secure facilities for classified work.

      We’ve been told that supervisors can require you to be in office if the work requires it and that leadership is working with the union on what the telework options will look like going forward. It’s possible that WFH will still be offered, but pay may be effected if you’ve moved to a lower COL area.

      1. Giant Kitty*

        It really boggles my mind that they want to pay people less for living somewhere less expensive. Would they cut a local/in office employee’s pay if they found out that they lived in a situation where their housing costs were a fraction of that paid by other employees (living with family for free, or with 8 roommates, or in a highly rent controlled space, or in a trailer on someone’s land for $100 a month, grinding commute from low CoL area, whatever)? They wouldn’t, right? So why would they cut pay for someone who found a way to save on CoL by working remotely?
        This just seems like a way to punish people for not being “butts in seats” but clothe it in an excuse that sounds reasonable (it’s no more reasonable than deciding to pay someone with a family more than a single person because they have more bills.)

        1. Person from the Resume*

          LOL! They already kind of do. It’s not salary, but locations have “locality pay” and your pay check includes your salary and locality pay. If you do the exact same job at the exact same grade somewhere else you get different locality pay. If you move, your salary may drop. It’s entirely dependent upon your location (and the cost of living in that location) and not your housing situation.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Also a Fed. Here it depends on your job. If you need regular access to classified information you may only be allowed to telework on a situational basis – a day here or there where you need to wait for the plumber or it snows. Ditto for people who have public-facing jobs. If you need access to classified but not every day, you can generally telework 1-3 days a week as negotiated with your supervisor, though you may need to come in for classified meetings on a day you would normally telework. Some functions need office coverage, but it doesn’t have to be a specific person (e.g., HR – people may not want to report harassment over Zoom) where you might be in once per week. Finally there are some jobs (e.g., budget analyst) where you can work 100% remotely. We are looking at cost savings on buildings, but still sorting out access to shared spaces that can accommodate all of the above.

  54. NothingIsLittle*

    I work for local government in Florida and we’ve been expected to be back in the office since 2021. However, there was a lot of latitude for individual offices to allow WFH arrangements as necessary. Recently, there have been more policies around approving a WFH arrangement and for someone to exclusively WFH requires a much higher level of approval than it used to. My understanding is that this change is coming from some turn over in high level positions, particularly since the previous WFH arrangements favored some departments and positions over others.

  55. Random Girl*

    Our company sold off the main headquarters. There are times that they will invite people to meet at a local office if they have one. Most people at my company are remote with some hybrid and few in office full time. They have talked about connecting more but have made clear that they won’t be forcing anyone back to an office. That’s good for me as the nearest office is 3 hours away.

  56. Mf*

    Biotech/pharma here. My company (global corp. with 100,000 employees) is bringing people back if they are designated “hybrid.” People who are remote employees aren’t impacted.

    It was explicitly said in management meetings that the executives know this will cause resignation and that’s not an issue. In other words, they are hoping for voluntary resignations.

  57. Ktoo*

    With the company I work for it depends on which office. In the US there have always been some people who are 100% remote, but there’s one location that just built a brand new, huge building and I think there’s both more pressure there to be in-office most of the time, and I think the culture there is just more happy to be. My location is looking at if it would make sense to rent a smaller office since so few people are ever in the current building. The laws and regulations that surrounded pandemic times remote work and return-to-work in the different states/provinces/countries have all created different attitudes about it, as well, and since we’re global the big bosses seem to be looking more at the bottom line than butts in seats.

  58. Jester*

    I’m a health sciences librarian, and we actually dropped back down to only one day in the office. We were going in two days but modified for a holiday schedule that’s sticking around indefinitely. We need someone to open and close the reference desk and do things like fill the copier with paper. Everything else is remote, even staffing the reference desk.

    1. Grace Poole*

      I work in an academic library, and while the “front line” staff have been going in to to work for at least a year, those of us without direct contact with students and faculty have been able to WFH rather flexibly. The university mandated that as of Jan 1, everyone has to be back on campus at least 3 days a week, to enhance the “student experience.” For the people who’ve been going in this whole time, it feels like leveling the playing field, but there’s been a lot of grumbling about the necessity of having to get dressed and commute in order to sit in an office to have video calls and answer emails.

  59. AngryOctopus*

    Large Biotech. Obviously lab people already are in mostly 5 days/week. For others changing from employee led to manager led WFH–functionally I don’t see a lot changing as individual managers are empowered to approve whatever WFH they work out with the employee. The main result seems to be that smaller teams are asking people to be present for team meetings 1-2x/week instead of all remote.

    1. Marshmallow*

      I sorta get that as someone on a small team in research (so lots of physical work not desk work) in food manufacturing. It has caused hardships on those that are in all the time because things come up where the extra hands of people that can do 80+% of their jobs remotely are needed (usually unexpectedly and urgently). Those hardships aren’t seen as obviously by managers or the WFH crowd and in my experience people don’t really want to talk about them because they don’t want to hear the reasons that their conveniences might be a hardship for others. That’s anecdotal but something I’ve observed from the really die-hard WFH crowd. To be clear, that sort of as-needed all hands responsibility used to be part of their jobs – it was expected and no one ever officially said that it’s not anymore, it’s just sort of shifted to be less convenient for those that can only do maybe 10-20% of their jobs remotely so that those that can do 80% of their jobs remotely aren’t inconvenienced at all.

      Personally I’m not necessarily advocating for people not being able to wfh where it makes sense (and there are plenty of situations where it does even in my sector) but we need to be able to have the discussions about the impact and hear both sides not just the “I wanna WFH and expecting anything else is completely unreasonable” side and then come up with real solutions not just “well in person people can just cover that now”.

  60. Littorally*

    Yep, my company has brought people back. Our current policy stands that employees who meet with clients daily need to be in the office full time, as well as the people with direct oversight of those employees. People who don’t have or oversee daily client meetings can work a max of 2 days a week remotely, and should be in office the rest of the time, but exceptions are available. To my knowledge, there’s not a ton of higher-level oversight on who’s in office when, so enforcement of the policy is mostly at manager discretion.

    There’s been a lot of grumbling and a wave of resignations about it. I don’t think we’re doing it to force voluntary layoffs; we’ve been struggling to stay fully staffed and have been hiring like mad more or less since the pandemic started. You’d think we’d be more flexible about WFH in that case, but… well.

  61. Llama Llama*

    My company has only had soft requests so far. They are highly encouraging us to come in once a month. I have only gone in when important people are there or there is something that would be extremely beneficial to come in, this has amounted to 3 times in the past year. No one has said a word to me. It helps that my boss, grandboss and great grandboss all do not live near our office.

  62. allornone*

    Prior to COVID, with a couple of exceptions, nearly everyone was in-office 100%. The office shut down at the start of COVID and everybody went remote. In May of 2021, the office technically opened up (with strict mask and vaccine policies in place), but remote options remained for those who needed/preferred it. Now, we settled into a nice little blend of the majority of workers being hybrid (in-office 3 days a week), and, depending on role, need, and preference, some working entirely remote or entirely in-office (like me). I think it works well and means my organization is receptive to the needs and wants of its workers.

  63. Wilbur*

    Fortune 50 Co-No changes. People should come in sometimes, but whatever you work out with your manager is fine. The office is like a ghost town, I normally see ~15 people in a wing that used to hold over 100. I’m in a metro area where it’s pretty affordable to buy a house that puts you ~15 minutes from the office, so while some people have longer commutes I don’t think it’s a huge factor. I think people just prefer working from home.

    The bigger thing this year is China and Japan opening up their covid policies. That sounds like it hasn’t gone particularly well so far, but my team might resume travel later in the year if/when things have calmed down.

  64. Lana*

    Our (small nonprofit foundation) CEO sent an email after everyone was essentially using their vacation up the last week of the year to say that she wants us back in 3 days a week, based on “extensive benchmarking of what other organizations are doing & reviewing the research on the benefits of regular contact.” We had been given a heads up by our supervisors prior – we had been expected to show up 2 days a week in 2022. They are still pretty flexible about hours and are VERY adamant that we stay home if we’re coughing or feeling ill, at least.

  65. Ama*

    My (medium size nonprofit) employer is planning to return to hybrid from full WFH at the end of this month. We were always told full WFH was not permanent, and actually the 3 days a week hybrid is a change from what senior leadership said during the first 18 months of the pandemic (which was that eventually we would return to the office full time). The return to the office has been pushed back several times because transmission rates in our area have been high until very recently.

    However, I received permission to move out of state and become a full time remote employee (my spouse and I purchased a house in a more affordable area) so I won’t be part of this transition, although I will be supervising employees who are. I am interested to see if any other coworkers take the path I’ve taken, although I did have some additional capital because I am a long-tenured, high-performing employee who does a very specialized role that no current coworker (including my bosses) fully understands. We have always had a handful of remote employees here so there is plenty of infrastructure for keeping remote employees integrated with the main office but I’m curious if leadership is going to have to rethink just how necessary our physical office is, given the skyrocketing COL in our already high COL city.

  66. anon for this one*

    I work for a public university. We formalized a policy for remote work, based on individual departments’ needs, but rumors are that admin would like to see more of us back in the office (supposedly students want more face to face interaction, but not sure I agree with that). My department allows a few people (myself included) who are not client facing the option of working hybrid schedules. One of our faculty is pushing to get that option for all staff, because it’s a morale issue (especially in light of our contractual pay increase not being anywhere close to the increased cost of living in the past couple years). But enrollment is down, so that’s the big concern right now.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I’ve heard that argument about how students want things face to face from university administrators before. But I’m super curious how they came to that conclusion. Like, do they have any actual data to back that up? (I’m guessing no and it’s mostly that the administrators want things in person because it’s easier for them and/or how things have always been done).

      1. Anonymous 5*

        I mean…given the enormous uptick in academic misconduct that my colleagues and I observed when we went online, I am with admin on this whether or not the students wish they could stay remote. At least for exams.

      2. Video killed the radio star*

        My husband’s university (he is a part-time student while working) keeps sending surveys asking students if they want to go back to being in person, and the answer continues to be no. They send about one a month, apparently. I guess the administration is definitely hoping they will start saying yes, but they really aren’t interested…

        1. I Talk About Motorcycles Too Much*

          My suspicion is that the disconnect comes from how people are interpreting the question. Students likely prefer having lectures, exams, homework, etc, from the comfort of their homes. However, they would like the faculty/staff in place so that when they do have questions/problems, there is somewhere they can go for the face-to-fact assistance that they are still accustomed to and that can be easily understood in the 3D.

          Personally, I know that I love doing everything electronically but when I run into an issue and something is wrong with my bank account, I will still hop into my truck and run over to actually chat with a service rep about what happened. And there being able to touch and manipulate physical items can help me better understand things when I am learning complex topics like organic chemistry. I think the answer for students is more complex than just one option or the other and when hybrid can be useful (say having faculty available 1 day/week for office hours).

          1. J*

            There’s actually a study (don’t have the link handy) that backs you up – students want in-person to solve the random problem with registration, financial aid, etc., but that’s about it. They like a mix of online and in-person classes, too.

            I’m in private higher ed in a large, dense urban area and we’ve been requiring 3 days a week since the Fall semester began. Our school is large enough that there is no top-down enforcement, so departments have taken widely varying approaches, and that’s led to the dissatisfaction one would expect. We are back to the same number of in-person classes as pre-pandemic, and faculty continue to come to campus as much or as little as they would like (as it was before the pandemic) which doesn’t help, since (theoretically) they are the most “student-facing” among us. My department took a particularly hard line on exceptions to the policy, which has led to some huge headaches for me as a middle manager. As above, the justification was that students wanted us here.

            I could see things changing in either direction next Fall, but so far there’s no word of anything definitive.

      3. Alice*

        FWIW I looked at the percentage of available workshop seats that library users registered for, for library trainings, over a year. The uptake of available seats for online trainings was twice the rate of the uptake of available seats for in-person trainings. I don’t know if the same pattern occurs when you count how many people actually show up but it seems likely.

        1. FloralWraith*

          We found this to be the case at my UK university (events is part of my team) but even though registrations were up, the actual people who signed in for anything from half…and it’s gotten worse since things have gone back to normal. There’s no real appetite for online events anymore and we’re going to stop doing them except for student recruitment sessions (which we did pre-pandemic anyways).

    2. Tiny Dancer*

      I also work at a public institution in a student service office. We were very successful in transitioning our work to be completed remotely; all but only a few things could be done this way. A year and a half ago we returned on a hybrid basis – X number of people in the office on a rotating basis. It basically meant that people were in 1-2 days a week and the rest of the time worked remotely. It has worked out really well, IMO. I never thought I’d ever be in a position to work remotely in higher ed – it’s really wonderful. Some grumbled about it but our boss said that if people didn’t like it, everyone could come back in person 100% of the time. People changed their tunes quickly. There is always the possibility we could be required to come back in person full-time but we’re not hearing anything about it at the moment.

  67. Brunost*

    In my part of Norway, things barely closed at all after the first month or two of Covid. I’ve noticed that it used to be more acceptable to stay home with a cold, but even that is wavering. People still get Covid all the time, it’s just hasn’t really been a topic of news or conversation over the last year.

  68. to varying degrees*

    Last job (municipal government) – small number of people did WFH, mostly they were either they had no job or they were in the office. Now it’s all in office
    New job (construction) – no WFH then, none now.

  69. WantonSeedStitch*

    I work at a large university, so the various academic and administrative departments have different policies and cultures with this kind of thing. Within my own office, it seems that most people are being permitted to stay mostly remote. We come in for major in-person meetings or events somewhere between once a month and once a quarter. I believe we’re working on a plan to cut down on the office space we’re using within our building.

  70. Life on mars*

    Our office has been soft-required 2-3 days a week since last spring but it sounds like they will be moving to hard-required. (Generally people were full time in office before pandemic but I was only part time then, required to be in 8 days a month). This time around they are mandating which days of the week, which is frustrating as I had a choice before. It’s also generally frustrating because the people I work with most often don’t even live in my state so the “collaboration” and such used as the justification just makes me feel like they don’t care about individual situations. I’ll be on the phone all day no matter where I am.

  71. Ewesername*

    We’re changing from 3 at home 2 in office to 2 at home, 3 in office, but not until April. They want everyone to have time to make the arrangements they need and are taking into account that no one wants to come in during the winter. (We’re in Northern Canada)
    The other change is everyone from our department has to be in on Wednesdays. Which I’m not a fan of. I’ve gotten used to only half of us being there at once and have enjoyed the quiet.
    Our roles were mostly 3 in, 2 out during the summer pre pandemic, so everyone is happy they’re allowing it year round now.

  72. Data for the decisions*

    I’m a data analyst for a hospital system. I was hired at the height of the pandemic and never even assigned an office – completely remote. My boss hems and haws over how he misses in-person work but considering the hospital will even allow non-clinical employees to work in a few different states, I don’t see a change coming.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I’m also at a hospital, and same here – there’s been no hint so far of pulling us back on site for those of us who’ve worked remotely since the start of covid. (Knock on wood…) Possibly some departments/managers have changed their minds, but if so I haven’t heard about it.

  73. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

    I’m seeing the opposite here, at a global tech company.

    Pre-pandemic: Mostly in-office, but remote friendly. At one point they closed down one of our major offices because they wanted as many people as possible (and all managers) in the headquarters office.

    Peak pandemic: Offices alternately closed and reopened with pandemic waves. Eventually the company started reducing the amount of office space and went to a permanent flex model: work at home when you want, come in when you want (after filling out a covid-related questionnaire to confirm you weren’t symptomatic).

    Recently: Two months ago, they announced they were closing down all our US offices except for global headquarters, because most people were choosing to work from home, and the powers that be didn’t want to pay good money for leases. (I think the offices outside the US are remaining open, but I’m not sure.)


    1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      Just saw the top comment with rules of engagement.

      How we feel about it: as far as I know, people are happy with it. I know some of us remote people were not pleased about the message that in order to get work done effectively, you have to be sitting at the same table as your coworkers (what they told us when they shut down a main office and said they wanted as many people as possible at headquarters). As a remote worker, I actually flagged that with management at the time: companies that have most of their employees in the office and think that’s necessary are prone to end up in a bad feedback loop where they don’t invest in tools for collaborating remotely, remote workers suffer from being out of the loop, and their lack of productivity is used as a justification that remote work doesn’t work.

      I also know that the open floor plan was unpopular with some of the software engineers, and at least one ND engineer quit over not being able to focus.

      I haven’t heard any complaints about the move to almost-entirely remote, though people who live local to headquarters seem happy to go in for lunch and meetings once in a while.

  74. E*

    Spouse works for a Fortune 50 company at a main campus. They were originally hybrid, then fully remote spring 2020 to fall 2022, and moved back to hybrid – 2 days in office. No one is happy as the company moved a large number of people from more expensive regions to this campus and closed a satellite building during the pandemic. Everyone hot desks and there aren’t enough seats even when only half the employees are there. It doesn’t help that being in office is sold as critical for collaboration yet his team is spread over 6 countries so all meetings are virtual anyway.

  75. Lost academic*

    The opposite. We opened some new offices in cities where we had critical mass headcount to support it, which is necessary to being able to support entry level hiring in those areas. Our national leadership team is now considering some closures after staff departures and a review of who’s actually coming in and how often. Companies in our industry tends to have many regional offices even with small headcounts based on client expectations. But real estate is expensive.

  76. SansSerif*

    I work for a large financial services company. I think they’ve handled this as well as it could be handled. From the beginning, they were very pleased that productivity never faltered, and in fact, went up. They did a lot of surveys asking what we wanted. They classified different jobs based on whether they needed to be onsite, hybrid, or offsite. Most jobs were judged to be hybrid or offsite. They re-designed the offices to be “hoteling” instead of assigned offices, so if you wanted to go in, you just went online and reserved an office for the day or whatever. They do some in-person activities to encourage people to come in once in a while, but there’s no pressure if you don’t want to. The only days I’ve been in my office since March 2020 was the day we all went to clean out our offices so they could redesign the workspace, and for my department’s christmas party a few weeks ago. I’m retiring in about three years and I’ll be spending that remaining time working at home in my sweatpants. Which is just fine with me.

  77. InkHappy*

    I got hired for a remote position in one state (U.S.) by a company in a neighboring state, with them knowing I was moving to a third state further away before my start date, and across the country a year after that. My team is in at least 3 different states and 2 time zones, possibly more (we don’t chit chat much), and other teams are similar. I know there is technically a corporate office, but I’ve heard it’s mostly empty. If they wanted to switch to all in-person, they’d have to replace a HUGE amount of their non-field people, like almost everyone. With turnover problems already, I don’t see that happening.

    I searched specifically for a remote position because my spouse is a graduate student and we knew we’d be moving for their internship, and again for their post-doc, possibly a third time after that (please god no), and I didn’t want to destroy my resume or mental health job-hopping every move.

    Also, our current state does long school vacations (2+ weeks in December!), arranging child care for my kiddo would have been an absolute nightmare at my previous office job, is a breeze working remotely, but is only a relative non-issue because they’re old enough to feed and entertain themselves. Moving away from remote work isn’t just anti-employee, it’s anti-family, which isn’t any newer or more shocking than being anti-employee but is still infuriating. I’d go so far as to say anti-remote is anti-feminist, as it’s clear who takes the brunt of the career damage when remote work isn’t available and child care is violently expensive. In a country that tries to push “family values”, work flexibility IS a family value, and remote work has to be a part of the equation whenever feasible, period.

    *climbs off soap box*

  78. Kristobel*

    Major media company – we are supposed to go in three days a week as of last fall; this was after being fully remote from March 2020 on, and then allowing folks to go in around spring and summer of 2021. However, it’s really up to your manager to enforce it, and mine doesn’t particularly care because I’m in a different city from him, so all our meetings are virtual anyway. They also recently announced that Fridays would be official WFH days, so I have a feeling they’re gearing up to announce a 4-day in-office requirement. It’s all about ‘company culture’ and ‘collaboration’ but when we’re spread across three major cities, most meetings are still Zoom and it feels silly to commute to the office to sit on Zoom calls all day. I try to go in a couple of times of month just to get out of the house, but I don’t feel any real pressure to do so.

  79. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    “Public-facing” State employee here — nearly all of my work is done virtually, and I WFH one day a week. We don’t anticipate a huge change of this pattern. Maybe we’ll do some reshifting of the types of services that we offer in person, for folks who don’t have or use the virtual technology, or just learn better through direct contact.

    As a workforce professional, I read a heck of a lot of postings. I’m finding that in recent months there have been a lot fewer postings specifically featuring 100% remote and instead are asking for in-person or hybrid, where early in 2022 it seemed like nearly all “office jobs” were remote-possible. (In early 2022 it seemed like every posting was tagged “remote” to get attention, even if the job description clearly stated that it was in person. I’m not seeing that as much any more.)

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’m also very pleased that my state is comfortable enough with WFH that when there’s going to be dicey weather they just send us permission to pivot to WFH that day. It keeps people off the roads and the work keeps getting done.

      Never would have been allowed or even possible pre-panini.

  80. Art3mis*

    I started as a remote employee at my company this past summer. 90% of the company is remote, and leadership has stated that it’s their intention to stay that way. The nearest office to me is 500 miles away, so that would be quite the commute.

  81. kiki*

    My company did some half-hearted attempts to get folks to return to office (no requirements, but having managers try to set up “collaboration days” in office). It fizzled out because:
    1.) Folks didn’t want to do it
    2.) Leadership didn’t realize they’d need somebody to actually organize the influx of folks in the office
    3.) There were some waves of covid after collaboration days.

    At this point, my company seems settled into being remote, though occasionally some leaders sadly talk about missing the “energy” they felt being in the office.

  82. Melinda*

    Our new corporate-wide (top down) policy is mandatory 3x a week in the office. Before the pandemic, it was a managerial decision, so they have taken away that discretion. People are really upset about it. The good news is, for now, they don’t seem to tracking or monitoring and I don’t think people are going in 3x a week.

    Another observation: The execs (mostly old-school, as you can imagine) LOVE it and keep touting the “collaborative” benefits. Meanwhile, we are in an open-plan, hot-desking situation, so it is really a total bummer.

  83. Velomont*

    My company seems to be the polar opposite of what I typically read about in this forum. We’re a fairly large multi-national with a very large manufacturing and physical (think training and instruction in a wide variety of classroom and practical settings) as well as a significant office presence.

    Once the pandemic and associated lock downs started, our leadership did their utmost to keep us functioning as much as possible, though as remotely and as distributed as possible and practicable. In the ensuing months, post-2021/22, I have seen no pressure whatsoever to return to the office unless functionally necessary.

    Most of our work environments are hot-desking arrangements and, gut-feel wise, I would say that our main building is maybe 30 per cent occupied by regulars who just prefer it to WFH (I think that we could compete with many commercial co-working spaces). Our company has also implemented additional (and worthwhile) incentives to stay at the company, such as improvements to vacation time and absolute flexibility in how, when, and where we want to work.

    Without trying to sound ridiculous, and after reading AAM and other job-related media for the last several years, I can honestly say that I feel grateful to have the job that I have in the company that I’m in.

  84. Midwest*

    Husband’s company went remote the first week of the pandemic and has stayed fully remote ever since. Two new employees have gone to other employee’s houses to train (they were already friends pre-hire), but only if they felt comfortable with it- it was their own choice. Ultimately, the company would eventually like to have 1 day a week in office, but will not do that as long as the pandemic is still around, because they do not want to risk anyone’s health.

  85. Marshmallow*

    Our company is one that has had people in office for the whole time because it’s food production related business, but definitely required non-essential workers to WFH during the pandemic. Now I’m seeing a mix. They’re definitely trying to encourage “office-only” people back to the office, but don’t seem to be requiring it as a whole. They are leaving a lot to individual manager discretion based on actual performance and job function.

    In a lot of cases, since there was always a mix of in person and remote by us the in-person people picked up a lot of tasks that weren’t theirs and were never meant to be permanent, so there’s been some discussion about how to manage that. Do we hire other people in a new function to cover that stuff? Make it just part of the in person peoples jobs? Or insist that those that were doing it before come back at least enough to do those tasks?

    For my specific and tiny location (the company itself is huge and international), we hired a new person to cover the stuff the in person people were covering because it was getting to be too much for the in persons as our workload ramped back up. Most of our in person people are allowed a semi-hybrid schedule where if they have a day of meetings or are just going to be writing stuff all day they can stay home, but their in person stuff needs to be covered and they are expected to ask, not tell, people if they can help out with anything that needs coverage while they’re home and need to accept an answer of “no”. We are all salaried so if someone isn’t able or doesn’t want to have to work longer hours to cover so someone else can be home voluntarily for the day the person that wants to stay home isn’t supposed to pitch a fit about it. Mostly everyone by us is pretty gracious about stuff though so it mostly hasn’t been an issue.

    We do still always cover child care issues that pop up and illnesses. We don’t want sick people coming in. We are a tiny group and all of us getting sick would take the whole place down, so we are pretty firm on that.

    It would be weird for our manager to be weird about hybrid stuff… because he’s hybrid and his boss is almost exclusively WFH. Of course, if they were bad managers I could see it happening.

    That said… we’ve actually been pushing for our manager to spend more time on-site. We have experienced a lot of turnover in the last 4 years or so and took a significant head-count reduction about 3-4 years ago. Our manager has only been with our team maybe a year so, our ask was for him to spend more time on-site so he gets a better view of what is going on there so he can more effectively advocate for us. Our pleas have not been answered yet and we are getting increasingly more frustrated that we aren’t getting the support we need and only see boss man twice a week if we are lucky (we can go weeks without seeing him at all). Not sure what’s going on there, and no one is asking for it to be permanent, just until we figure out our staff Vs workload issues.

    Anyway, that’s a long winded explanation of “my office is a lot of in person, some hybrid, and left to manager discretion”.

    1. Marshmallow*

      Oh, our tiny location has also been experimenting with how to make meetings work for us again with hybrid. Our current conclusions are:
      1) if everyone on the meeting is on-site, the meeting is more effective in-person in a conf room.
      2) if anyone is calling in it’s easier/more effective, if we are all on our headsets at our desks. Cameras are only required for a couple specific meetings.

      We tried the conf room plus remote people and it is really hard for the remote people to follow along even if people brought laptops and turned their cameras on with no audio.

  86. AnonFedContractor*

    Federal contractor here. They took away our offices completely and moved most of IT to WFH in order to play musical buildings and do renovations/upgrades with the very limited space the company has. But they also implemented a rule stating that, without a reason like family care giving or extenuating circumstances, all employees must live within 2 hours drive of the campus. There’s on-campus hot desking space available for those who do want to go in, but that’s not being used very much since folks who’re used to private offices or tall-walled cubicles don’t like open-office plans. There’s no plans within the next year at minimum to bring most of IT back on site as the musical buildings plan has at least 3 more buildings left in the renovation rotation and there won’t be office space for us until that’s all done.

  87. MDPA*

    I work in healthcare. I am a provider in a hospital owned outpatient practice. We had 2 employees wfh for over a year due to childcare issues. They did great. Productive, quick turnaround on requests, etc. We got a new manager for our department and she told them they had to return to the office if they wanted to keep their jobs. They declined. Their work was reassigned to others in the department- who hate it and are now looking for different jobs. No practical reason for this new manager to require them to be in office. It’s just how she wants it. She’s going to end up losing more employees in the end instead of accommodating what was already working.

  88. Hello Sweetie*

    I work in an R&D organization at a university. We are defaulting to 3 day in office hybrid arrangements for the majority of our staff (with exceptions for specific functions). Universities are a lot different from tech companies what with the students actually being there, and the extended remote work was, in fact, degrading & harming certain kinds of collaborations. I think the approach we are taking is reasonable and is already showing improvements in a lot of interactions and collaborative endeavors.

    Everyone has a laptop, and we pay for one office setup. (We do have some fully remote employees, but those are exceptions driven by business need.)

    I am certain there will be small amounts of attrition as a result, but we have been very clear from the start that there would be an expectation of some level of return to office. Folks who want to be 100% remote on the regular probably are better suited for an organization with a different set of mission & business needs, and that’s fine.

  89. Amy*

    Due to my spouse’s job loss in July 2020, we had to leave our HCOLA and returned to my hometown in a much lower cost area. At the time, we just didn’t know when the jobs would come back and his was a very hard hit industry. My job is remote (though with significant travel) already and my spouse got a new remote job.

    Now we’re planning on moving back to the same place we left 2.5 years ago. His job has gotten increasingly less remote. First it was a few in-person meetings a month, then it was “can you do 1 day weekly in the office?” then 2 days and now they are starting to ask about 3.

    The travel to the office was getting too much and we’ve been feeling a bit isolated. My job’s travel requirements are also harder in an area with fewer transit options. If his work continued to only be 1-2 days in the office, we probably couldn’t justify leaving this lower cost area. But 3 days + my frustrations with getting to the airport are pushing us over the edge to return to a high cost, easily commutable area.

    I’m actually a bit excited to be back and more accessible and closer for work and he’s looking forward to being in the office.

    Whenever my work is 5 days in a row at home, I find myself a bit under-stimulated, as does he. I don’t know if I want 5 days in-person either but I like something more like half and half.

  90. Justin*

    Nothing changing at my job. I go in twice a week but it’s not required (I just want to get out of the house, and I like eating near my job).

    We are expected to attend important events if they are in-person, but that’s, like, once a month at most.

    1. Justin*

      Oh, I work for a large nonprofit that is national, so most of our work would be on zoom regardless. They had a remote policy even before the shutdowns, so they just kept it in place and bolstered it.

      I actually LIKE my coworkers, so I jump at the chance to attend an event, but like I said, it’s really only once a month or so. We do travel sometimes, maybe 6 times a year.

  91. New job, still remote*

    I recently started a new job (at a tech company, doing some fairly specialized but not-coding work on a team developing, let’s say, some new teapot designs for an existing line of teapots). It’s fully remote, and my coworker who was also just hired lives too far away to come to the office regularly, which I’m taking as a sign that this role at least will remain fully remote for the foreseeable future.

  92. Panda*

    At my company, we have to badge in 5 days out of every 10 and badge reports are being pulled and provided to upper management. It has been emphasized at every meeting from company wide down to one-on-ones that we must comply. Upper Management has repeatedly been asked to change it to two days per week but so far they are firm.

    At the same time we’re being told to work from home when we’re sick so it’s very confusing because all our upper management gets is the badge report which can then be compared with our scheduled time off or sick time in they system. But how do we account for the fact that we were sick at home but still worked? We have unlimited sick time so if I have to take the time off, I will but then the work will not get done.

    I was told this was a very flexible workplace with good work life balance when I interviewed last year which is why I accepted the job. And while it is not bad in relation to many workplaces, it is worse than my previous employer and not as flexible as I was led to believe. Frankly, I am going to start looking for a fully remote position in a few months which will be closer to my year anniversary as I have to stay a year or pay back my signing bonus.

    For the rest of my coworkers, everyone is just hoping compliance will make them stop looking and then we can go back to coming in at most twice per week.

  93. Corporate Lawyer*

    Multinational, publicly traded company headquartered in the United States: No change. When our management saw how productive we all were while working remotely during the pandemic, they made the excellent decision to shift to what we call “Remote First,” meaning that there are small offices people can go to if they wish (for occasional meetings that are more productive in person than on Zoom, for people who just prefer to work in an office, or whatever), but there is no expectation for anyone to be in the office every day, or at all. The vast majority of employees love it, and it also allows the company to recruit good employees no matter where they may live.

  94. A Genuine Scientician*

    I’m in higher education.

    Nearly all courses have moved back to in person, though sometimes there’s 1 section of a multiple section course that is staying online. Help room hours and faculty office hours are now more commonly online than in person, at least in part because our university has told faculty that we are not allowed to require people wear masks in our (small, poorly ventilated) offices. Most faculty/staff meetings in my unit are being done either hybrid or fully remote, though some people are logging in to Zoom from their on-campus offices. Seminars are being conducted in person, mostly out of concern that we’d fly in a speaker to go speak to an empty lecture hall if we allowed people to join the seminar remotely. (They are being recorded and posted internally for a week for people unable or unwilling to attend in person — I’ve tried to push for more access, but haven’t been able to sway things).

    In general, most faculty in my unit are frustrated that we’re the only ones wearing masks, and we’re not allowed to ask our students to wear masks even when we’re in packed classrooms. (We’re a biology unit, we all know the current case count data and information about mask and ventilation effectiveness and the probability of long Covid. It has taken a lot of willpower over the past 6 months to avoid saying to students “Has it occurred to you that everyone who is being paid to teach you biology is wearing a mask, and that perhaps we know enough to see why it’s important?”)

    1. PregnantProf*

      Similar in my department (also biology), except that even most of the faculty weren’t masking in classes this fall. Meetings have been an interesting mix, from entirely in-person to mixed to just on Zoom, depending on the group. Faculty meetings were supposed to go back to in-person this fall but people protested and they didn’t—which I’m very grateful for, they’re much more tolerable when I can listen via Zoom and do something useful like wash the dishes at the same time. Plus safety.

      In terms of classes, the main difference I’m seeing here is that more students are likely to ask to attend class remotely if they’re sick or something, which just wouldn’t have happened pre-pandemic, and also that faculty seem more ready to assign asynchronous assignments instead of holding classes on occasion.

      1. A Genuine Scientician*

        I’m open to students working remotely in some of my classes, but I’ve drawn the line at lab. If I’m teaching you a molecular biology lab, I need you actually in the lab, holding a micropippetor. We shifted and made do when everything was online, and accepted that students wouldn’t learn as much as a result, but that is a class that honestly just doesn’t work remote.

  95. Echo*

    My employer brought us back in once a week starting April 2022 and has stuck to that policy. So far they’ve been really flexible about it too – I’ve never gotten any grief for choosing to stay home on my in-office day because I needed to be here for a delivery/home repair or working a full week while I’m out of town visiting family.

    1. Echo*

      Oh, and we also have a lot of fully remote staff. Many of our new hires are in fully remote positions, and for most hybrid roles like mine, managers can approve an employee at any level to move out of our area and work fully remotely if they’ve established a track record of good performance. I heard that the prediction of people leaving major cities to work remotely from smaller, lower-cost-of-living towns never really panned out in most places, but it’s absolutely the reality at my company.

      I work in DC for a large corporation that does a combination of tech + consulting.

  96. ThatGirl*

    My company had been on a suggested, not strongly enforced 3/2 schedule for most of last year, and most people came in at least 2 days. A lot of things changed over late summer/early fall, and generally not for the better. In October a companywide email was sent out telling everyone we were expected to be in the office a minimum of 4 days a week (Friday WFH with “manager approval”). Nobody was happy about it. We had already been losing people last year and I’m sure that will continue and possibly accelerate.

    To me, the dumbest thing is the alleged rationale behind it – our VP claimed it was to foster collaboration and friendship between us. Except that my department, at least, is spread out among 4 main offices in 4 different states with a handful more people who are full-time remote from elsewhere. I already know the people in my office, and I’m not gonna get to know someone three states away any better whether I’m here or at home.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I work for a large-ish manufacturing company in marketing, for the record, with headquarters in the Midwest.

  97. hebrides*

    We’re mostly remote, to the point where leadership has hinted of downgrading our office to somewhere that is smaller, cheaper, but where we could expand for yearly all-hands events. I live in the area of our headquarters, but I still rarely go in because of scheduling challenges, like starting my work day before the building our office is even open.
    That being said, we just recently had layoffs and I will be going into work much more regularly to show my face and remind them that I am a good, engaged and present employee.

  98. Eldritch Office Worker*

    We’ve been hybrid for about a year now and there are some off handed comments that are making me think a return to five days a week is on upper management’s minds. I am going to squash that within my power, if possible. Hybrid has worked great.

  99. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

    Small company in Sweden, 14 employees. Went full-on WFH in March of 2020 and stayed that way for two full years. In March of 2022 we switched to minimum 2 days a week in-office, at our individual discretion. Management was very surprised at how well the company functioned completely remotely (especially during our busy season from January to April) so I don’t foresee any further changes to the current WFH policy. The lease on our space was renewed in September for the next three years, but my gut feeling is that management will be looking for a smaller space for a move by the end of the current lease period. Sentiment all along the line is strongly against an open office plan if we do move.

  100. Diana Trout*

    we have been hybrid for about 6 months now, and it has been pretty well received, with some people even coming in more than the required 2 days in the office. Since coming back in a hybrid capacity (with required days where everyone is in the office at the same time), we have had a better sense of collaboration and productivity.

  101. Samwise*

    Large public state university, research I.

    Employees who are not faculty: we have new policies and refs about remote, hybrid, and flexible work. Depts are encouraged to consider these, but there’s no *encouragement* for units and supervisors to approve them.

    In practice, it has been a gigantic fight to get even a few days remote in our division (academic adjacent, about 1000 employees in the division, at least half of which could easily do some or all work of their work remotely and/or on a flexible schedule).

    Our division head did a round of listening sessions in October, and kept responding to questions about “are we going to be able to continue or possibly increase our few remote days?” with “it’s in the regs!” Finally I said (because I have no f*s to give): “we understand that, Dr Gaslight. The regs say these arrangements have to be approved. Are you going to approve them?” Got a very noncommittal answer.

    We keep losing staff, and this is one reason why. Quoting from a recently departed coworker: It’s not just the better pay at NewJob. They’re offering remote work and I don’t have to fight to get it.

  102. Anon in FL*

    I work in Florida, for a publicly traded company. Most workers sent home during the pandemic are still working remotely; however, they are now allowed to come back into the office if they so choose. Some are working hybrid, most are staying remote.

  103. Alex*

    At a megacorp with a manufacturing component–the manufacturing component was and remains in-person, but non-manufacturing has options for in-person, hybrid, and remote, and as of our last company meeting there’s still fairly stringent messaging in place from the top levels that no managers are allowed to require anyone not in manufacturing to come into the office. Having said that, more and more companies in the same industry are starting to require in-person days for everyone so I wouldn’t be surprised if we eventually follow suit…’fully remote’ as a hiring incentive doesn’t mean much when hiring has slowed/stopped.

  104. Lynne*

    I work in higher ed, and last year, the university passed the Staff Alternative Work Arrangements Policy, giving staff members an actual policy to refer to when working out their schedules. Previously, flexibility was allowed, but there was no hard and fast policy. I work in our advancement department, where many of us work from home most of the time because we are not student-facing. All of us are required to be in for all-staff meetings once a month (it’s now a VERY strict requirement), but those of us to are more productive from home are usually only in a couple of days each month. We’ve added more people to my immediate team, and I’ve gotten the impression that there might be another day required each month so we can get to know each other better. We’ll see what happens!

  105. Antiqueight*

    While my role does have some on site requirements we managed just fine with 100% off site only for more than a year but now I’m required to be on site at least 3 days a week. As a result I’m looking for alternative roles where 4 days off site is a minimum. I have found I work better and happier from home both than I expected and than I do in the office.

    1. Marshmallow*

      I’ve heard that exact rationale at my work before. “I have some on-site responsibilities but we managed just fine 100% off-site”.

      I don’t know your specific role or how your company handled the on-site stuff so I get that this may not apply to you, but for me and my company I can assure you “we” did not manage just fine. The people that went 100% WFH did just fine because they got to drop parts of their jobs, but those that were in person picked them up and are no longer managing just fine covering our own stuff and the stuff of all the people that stayed home. No

      I’m not necessarily saying that means those that only had a few on-site tasks need to come back for those but just expecting the on-site people to continue to cover those things and their own jobs isn’t a sustainable solution either in places where that has happened and managers need to listen to their on-site people too and how their workloads changed with others doing WFH.

      1. Antiqueight*

        I agree on-site people shouldn’t have to handle them, but there were no onsite people in my role or covering my area while we were off site. We did have to implement some esignature options and sure, some of the folks didn’t like having to use them but it not only made the role possible from home but provided an electronic back up for the files which had not existed when we used paper and wet ink signatures only. The result made my job easier when people had questions, I could actually get them answers where previously I would have had to tell them to go ask someone else.
        And yes, there are other tasks that are easier if we are onsite, but surely enforcing 3 days a week onsite is more than is needed when we DID manage with 5 days off site?

      2. Giant Kitty*

        And that’s a “management not managing effectively” issue, not a “some people get to work at home and I don’t” issue.

  106. GoldenHandcuffs*

    Yep…as of Jan 3rd, we are all required to be in the office at least two days a week. Those days are set by individual departments with usually one of the days being Wednesday as that’s been a “community day” for about 1.5 years now. My direct team (manager and 3 employees) are not super happy about it. My grandboss is all gung-ho for it which is hard because in general, she’s difficult to work for even without having to be in the office. The rest of the team seems also not super happy with it – some less happy than others.

    I personally would prefer to not have to go in at all. I don’t miss the traffic, I don’t miss seeing coworkers, I don’t even miss my desk set-up at work anymore which I did initially. My only reason for going in is that my youngest child is in the onsite daycare and they love it when I take them to lunch at my office building. I normally take them in and then come back home to be home for my older kid when they get out of school. My spouse picks up the younger child on their way home from work.

    It seems inevitable that we’ll go back fully at some point. I just really, really don’t want to. Enough to quit though? I’m not sure. I work in the head corporate office for a large manufacturing company.

  107. A Non E Mouse*

    The sale of our 70 person organization’s building went through in March 2020, and we proceeded with leasing and building out a new space (and would have been fully remote for a good part of 2021 regardless of the pandemic). We were fully remote during that period, with the option to go into the office as we’d like starting in summer 2021 once our new office spaces were ready, and with return to office in summer 2022. We transitioned over three months, going from 1 day a week and building up to 3 days a week. Prior to the pandemic, we were allowed to telework 1 day a week, and how that was enforced (on a regular schedule or ad hoc) varied by division. We also have an allotment of bonus telework days to use as we’d like with supervisor approval. Our new CEO is now considering a reduction to two days a week, but with highly intentional cross-organization engagement that actually builds community, connection, and common purpose. I’m skeptical about how they’ll be able to structure that without creating additional (unnecessary?) work, or it just defaulting to what we’ve already been doing.

  108. Anon Just for This*

    I work for the Ontario provincial government in Canada. There hasn’t been any recent change to requirements to go to the office. Currently, it’s 3 days a week, which started last spring. We were all told that the “future of work” plan for the public service would be shared with us in September 2022. Then it became October/November 2022. In December, we got word that it was being put on hold and maybe they’d pick it up again in the spring. So far, they seem to be pushing a one-size-fits-all approach rather than looking at what job positions are best done from the office and which ones are done just as well at home.

    What may be new is that I have heard of one ministry that is monitoring keycard use to make sure that people are actually in the office 3 days a week, which I find very creepy and intrusive. But it’s not the case everywhere. Some areas’ leadership basically told staff that they’re supposed to be in 3 days a week, but that leadership wasn’t really going to monitor that.

  109. Marianne*

    My national bank is on a hybrid (3 days a week in office) plan but in our area they are reducing the number of floors they are leasing so we have been informed they will either consolidate more people on other floors or a bunch of us will go 100% work from home.

  110. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    For people who are located within 20 miles of our HQ, most employees are are required to work Tues-Wed in the office and can work from home Monday and Friday. There is a subset of workers who don’t have to collaborate much (I think mostly Devs who code 90% of their day) who are only coming in one day per week, and the specific day is up to their manager’s discretion. Some people appear to be delighted to get back to in person, but it seems like there are a lot more who are quite upset about it – including some rather scathing recent reviews on Glassdoor. I would imagine we’ll lose some people over it and probably already have.

    The thing I think is awful about it is that a huge portion of our employees, including myself, are WFH permanently because we live nowhere near HQ. During 2020-2022 they hired a ton of employees all over the country like me, and it just seems unfair that the local HQ folks don’t have the same option that we do. It seems to be motivated by justifying the rent in a new building downtown, which the company did after they closed the big campus on the outskirts soon after lockdown.

    It really doesn’t help that our former CEO (who has since retired) apparently promised that WFH would be indefinite in the past. His successor has made a different decision, and it’s left some folks feeling like they’ve been lied to.

  111. Meg*

    My partners job got the OK to stay 100% remote forever, but the hybrid folks are the ones getting the brunt of change. At first it was coming in “as needed.” But they’re now changing the verbiage to 2-3 days a week, seemingly for teambuilding?

  112. Alex*

    I work in a medium-large church and I’ve definitely noticed folks coming in to work in person more. My boss has maintained our level of work from home flexibility, though (as an example, I was able to work from home for two days this week while my car was in the shop). So I’m not sure if it’s so much that we’re being required to come in, so much as folks miss the sense of community that comes with church life, as I’ve also seen a lot more of our regular members stopping by during the week as well.

    1. MM*

      our church is open on Wednesdays for people to “work from church” instead of home, so that you do have that face to face interaction with church members. They offer worship opportunities during the day, and a light breakfast and lunch. I’ve only gone once, but will definitely try to do more often in 2023. (I work from home 100%, and have worked mostly from home pre-pandemic.)

  113. Requirement suggests it's not valued ...*

    Before 2020, my 3500-person company allowed WFH 1-2 days per week for staff above 2 years. The company operates in three disparate states, with multiple buildings within one of the states.

    They keep trying to force staff back into the office more frequently (because “the culture”) in various schemes, and each scheme falls apart.

    Earlier this year, they forced all new hires to attend a weeklong in-person summit. They claim that a survey of those new hires found that they find being in-person valuable (though they provided no numbers, nor did they indicate whether those results included the people who had quit since that summit). As a consequence, they now require all sub-2-year staff to work from an office on Wednesdays, and they’re “asking” (expecting/requiring) more senior staff to work 1-2 Wednesdays per month from the office “to support the new staff”. They’re “encouraging” us to book “meaningful meetings” on those days.

    This started with the new year, meaning that they were purposely concentrating staff just after maximum holiday disease exposure, so that’s super.

    But they’re aggressively hiring in numbers that are actually outpacing the elevated departure rate, so it’s not about shedding headcount; and compensation does NOT keep pace with … anything, so while shedding long-term staff sounds financially appealing, they’re often hiring at higher or equal rates than they were paying the long-term people who leave. Financial motives don’t really seem to fit; it mostly seems to be about the people who glad-handed their way to the top not being comfortable with remote staff and repeatedly trying to convince us that we “want” to go back to the model they prefer.

  114. cactus lady*

    My company has been 1 day a week since last year, and told us last summer that we would have to come in 2 days a week starting in January, but no one has said anything about that so I’m having my team stay at 1 day a week until someone tells me otherwise.

  115. Just Here for the Free Lunch*

    All employees were classified as on-site or remote over a year ago as a permanent measure. Nothing has changed since then, although I am noting a lot more in-person meetings are being scheduled. (These would be all-day or multi-day meetings of larger groups, but a remote option is still typically available with manager approval, and no one thinks twice if someone needs to call in.)

  116. PostScription*

    State University IT here, our division has evolved to allow on-site, remote, or a hybrid of the two, if it’s practical for the individual role. We have to register what we’re planning to do every so often. Many are still working from home and there isn’t any pressure to return. Space consolidation is underway and there are plans to make desks and equipment available for whomever wants/needs to be on site but doesn’t need a permanently assigned space.

  117. WillowSunstar*

    It’s changing for some, but not everyone. On the one day a week I’ve been in the office, more people have been there. This changed when they got rid of the COVID restrictions that you had to fill out paperwork and have a good reason just to be in the office.

  118. Warrior Princess Xena*

    I work for an accounting firm. They’re still being flexible and most folks are officially hybrid, but for our last two recruiting cycles they’ve been strongly encouraging new staff to start in the office and start WFH once they’ve got a better understanding of their roles in 2-3 months (with exceptions for illness, weather, etc). Our work is highly team-based and new staff in particular are expected to learn from the work of others. Those of us who are the partnered mentors and buddies to new staff (which is a volunteer position) are also expected to be in the office more to help them adjust. Teams are also encouraged to have at least one day where they’re onsite together, either at the client or in the office if the client doesn’t want us to come in.

    Having been in both the full virtual 100% lockdown and this more in-person atmosphere I can’t disagree with management’s assessment. For one it means that more junior staff get a lot more facetime with partners and managers, and it cuts down on communications loops like nobody’s business.

  119. Mid*

    Working for a Big Law firm.

    Official policy is everyone needs to be in 1 day a week, but enforcement is varied. My team is spread across the country, so going into the office is pretty pointless, and my boss doesn’t care at all, so I go in maybe once a month to get face time with other people, since I’m pretty new.

    Other teams are in more days a week, though there are legitimate reasons for it (for the most part.) Some teams need to have one person on-site at all times (such as IT), and others are fully in-office (such as front desk)

    The biggest push for in-office people are on the teams that aren’t performing as well.

    Only change was that the company doesn’t provide free lunches as often as they did last year.

    1. Mid*

      Also a large reason I don’t go in more is if I have a set office, it would be a cube, but the “guest office” has a door so I can get more done. Cubes are highly distracting to me.

    2. Annnnon for this*

      Also in BigLaw and, frustratingly, at least for admin staff we are supposed to be onsite 4 days a week. Other offices of our same firm in different cities have a much lower requirement and it is SUPER frustrating. Not helping: We live in a very long-commute-normal city. I ADORE my boss and consider this still worthwhile but…it’s not great.

      1. Mid*

        Oh that’s very frustrating! I wonder if someone at your office is forcing it, and if so, if people could push back a little? (Or en masse apply for transfers to the other offices that allow more remote time.)

        1. Annnnon for this*

          It’s very much something the managing partners in this office are INVESTED in. They “have a vision”. Apparently that vision is to make a significant portion of us wonder if we should start exploring other job options. :/

    3. Ashley*

      My partner who works for big law was told they can now go in once a month if they go in with their team and use the time to collaborate. Otherwise they have to keep coming in once a week.
      I personally love that they are giving a reason for coming in moving forward. And this is from a firm pre-pandemic that had started limiting remote work.

      1. Mid*

        I love this approach! I do think there is value in face time with coworkers, and that in person meetings can have value for the social aspects, and I appreciate the transparent approach they’re taking. (Also once a week isn’t a bad requirement!)

  120. Granny*

    I work for a tech company in Canada. We are still fully remote. I have coworkers all over the country so not sure how we would ever do in office ever again.

  121. Kara*

    I work for a large multinational telecom company.

    When I first started working for them, I was a contractor and 100% remote. When they hired me as an employee, I was still working remotely even though my designation was “full time office” – mostly because my entire team was spread across the US and none of us worked in the same office.

    Right before the pandemic, our leadership was pushing us to go into the office full time and there was a lot of grumbling and resentment, and then … pandemic. We transitioned to 100% remote work, which for me was business as usual.

    Just this past year leadership has changed all of our work designations and now we’re either “full time office”, “flex” (2-3 days in the office), or “full time remote”. We’ve been told that they’re pulling badge reports and will know who is going into the office and who isn’t and we’re expected to “live our designations”. *eyeroll*

    I personally have not gone into the office at all, despite being designated a “flex” worker, for a whole variety of reasons:
    1 – There is no one on my team or on any of my adjacent teams in my city.
    2 – I have a full office setup at home with 3 large monitors, a sit/stand desk, an ergonomic and comfortable chair, etc.
    3 – The office facilities are not assigned; it’s hotdesking and first-come status. So there’s no way to guarantee where you’ll be sitting.
    4 – Tied to #3, you have to carry your entire setup with you and remove it every time you leave the building, including lunches.
    5 – Leadership continues to tell us that we’ve had some of our best, most productive years ever during these pandemic years.

    I have no problem with going into the office if there are people on my team for me to work with. I’d even have no problem if they wanted to schedule weekly or monthly in-person meetings. But making me leave a fully laid out functioning office space to go work from a temporary space with less equipment and accommodation for no good reason is frustrating. I’m holding out as long as I can, until my leadership calls me on it. And at that point I’ll decide if having to go into an office is enough to make me start job hunting.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Exactly. I wouldn’t be so mad about doing in-person work stuff if there was a strong rationale for it, but there often isn’t for office jobs. We just keep getting told things about collaboration, even though the people on my project team are spread out all over the place.

  122. Anon For This*

    My company (software development, but I’m not a developer) is actually closing offices. We’ve been seeing belt-tightening since sometime in Q4, and it’s looked pretty likely that my local office would close for a variety of reasons (almost no one is going in, the location is good but the office itself has issues, building management is actively dreadful) and word on the street has been that we would probably get the official announcement early this year.

    I was a little disappointed; I haven’t been going in due to safety concerns, but I do like *having* an office. I think something like 70 or 80% of my coworkers said on a survey last year that they want to be fully-remote, though, so I think it’s the right decision.

    Thus far it looks like implementation of the closures is going to be horribly chaotic, though, which I think people are justifiably grumpy about.

  123. Bookworm*

    The organization I was at when COVID we went into lockdown in March 2020 tried to bring people back but appears to have been shamed into keeping at least some form of remote work (I saw a person announced their move to another state). Place I’m in now is remaining remote (with the option to go into a physical office) but we’re planning an in-person planning-type session later this year.

    I am not excited, not just because of the in-office time (which, TBF is only supposed to be for a few days), but rather because I’ve come to fully accept I am miserable here, with one reason being they’re terrible at running meetings. Which, to be also fair, is a challenge regardless of the setup you have.

  124. Becca*

    My husband has to be back in office three days a week, but first week back it doesn’t seem to be happening (execs and lowest levels are showing up, middle management is nowhere to be found) and they’re implementing it in the middle of moving floors so there isn’t enough space for everyone to have a desk. I keep getting texts from my husband consisting of: “this is chaos!!!”

    They also offer free breakfast and lunch as incentive but ran out of both and many people have gone without lunch the last couple of days because they didn’t schedule time to go out and get food (and there was no notice that food was short – they each just discovered it when they went to the cafeteria).

    That said, my husband wants to be back in office several days a week so he’s hoping it will calm down over the next couple weeks.

    1. Becca*

      Also his direct report lives in a city 1500 miles away with no other team members at that location, so it makes no sense that he should go into the office 3 days a week if he doesn’t want to. There’s also no one to monitor his “attendance” so my husband told him not to worry about going in unless they start to see every manager abiding by the guidelines and hear that it’s going to be enforced in some specific way.

  125. Glacier*

    I’m in Canada in a large city. New management in the spring of 2022 changed from 2 days a weeks in the office to 3 days required in the office. Since the pandemic started we weren’t required to go into the office at all until summer 2022 except for a brief period in late 2021 when it was 2 days in the office. We have been expanding our workforce steadily and are now running out of office space for assigned desks so will be revisiting WFH, hot desking, cubicles etc.

  126. MM*

    large multi-national tech company. My site (13 buildings) is currently all remote except for those working in labs and minimal meeting space (plus health ctr and gym) – buildings were cleaned of personal items Nov/Dec. Now they are figuring out how to consolidate. Since office reopened spring 2022, daily occupancy was running about 5%, so even if you came in, you didn’t really see anyone. Idea of consolidation is to have about as many seats, but more in team rooms/conference rooms, with goal of 15%+ coming in each day, but in fewer buildings so you actually interact with people. We are first site to do this – others will likely follow.

  127. JustAComplainingCommenter*

    My Fortune 500 company is mandating four days a week at the office. (I had only three days a week at the office pre-Covid.) They also closed the office 25 miles from my home last year and moved to an office 45 miles away. They say we now need to collaborate together again. I guess I haven’t been collaborating during the 2-6 hours a day I’ve been in meetings and while I’ve been getting my work done during the last few years.

  128. Educator*

    My organization (education nonprofit) has actually reiterated its commitment to having a fully remote workforce this year.

    Two main reasons for being fully remote:

    1) We can hire the most talented and experienced people, regardless of where they are located. This has resulted in a much more diverse workforce than we could have ever recruited in the small and homogeneous city where the company was based pre-pandemic, and that is important in our line of work.

    2) Our clients, who are students, very strongly prefer to meet virtually. Even when we host in-person opportunities convenient to them, they ask if they Zoom in. Employers take note—our current clients will be your entry-level employees in a few years. And they have no patience for unnecessary in-person meetings. They have indicated that they prefer to spend in-person time with friends and family. Me too, kids.

  129. KayKay*

    I work in biotech.

    At the start of the pandemic we were told to come in only when we had work in the lab to do, anything else should be done from home. It was wonderful for me- I would come in for a few hours a day get my experiments done and go home.

    But there were issues on some teams with responsiveness from remote managers. Some mangers just went completely MIA when they didn’t have meetings, and people working in the lab weren’t able to get the help or support they needed. Certain projects suffered.

    As a response to this the CEO is now demanding everyone come back to the office full time. He will literally walk around the building at 5pm seeing who is still there. Personally it is killing my morale – I hate nothing more than having my hours babysat.

    1. Marshmallow*

      That’s a bummer that they did responded that way instead of dealing individually with the people causing problems.

      I strongly dislike that approach to management: making individuals’ problems “team” problems. Bad management!

    2. Giant Kitty*

      Walking around personally checking to see if everyone is there sounds like a really great, cost efficient use of the CEO’s tie [insert eye roll emoji here]

  130. Anon for this*

    I work for a global bio-tech company based in Silicon Valley (I work at the largest East Coast facility). Our CEO has made a point of mandating that all employees who were remote during pandemic must return to the office on at least a hybrid (3 day/week) basis. Our manufacturing and logistics employees, of course, have been onsite throughout the pandemic.
    Reaction has been mixed. Some employees seem to have welcomed this, but I’d say anecdotally the majority of the employees I interact with are less than pleased. They question (rightly in my opinion) what the urgency is of having everyone back in the office when our company has had record growth and sales over the past three years.
    The overall attitude of upper management seems to be that COVID is over and we are moving on. We’ve even dropped our vaccination requirement (except in limited cases) and are no longer paying special sick pay for people who are out due to COVID, except where required by law. If you are out sick with COVID, you now have to use your regular paid time off entitlement (our company lumps all paid time off into one category, so we don’t have separate sick/vacation time). As you can imagine, this has not been popular with our employees.

  131. mreasy*

    My company (tech-adjacent but not actually tech) has actually backpedaled on RTO. They had been ramping up from 1 to 3 days a week over time, but got so much pushback that they left it up to managers’ discretion and most people come in maximum once a week if at all. A large part of this was that senior management couldn’t give a good explanation for why they were requiring RTO! And we already have been dealing with some turnover, so they wanted to avoid more.

  132. Badger*

    Lawyer at a non-profit legal + advocacy firm, ~30 staff total. Pre-pandemic we had two offices in different parts of the state and a small handful of folks placed in-house at other locations or WFH. Those of us who were based in one of the office locations were 100% on-site unless we were traveling for a conference or something. We’ve been pretty much 100% WFH since the pandemic started. We closed one of the locations and are maintaining the other one for now. We can go in if we want but we don’t have to and there’s no indication that will change. Most of the lawyers’ work was remote anyway, mostly phone/video hearings even before the pandemic, so that hasn’t changed.

    I like going into the office and voluntarily go at least once every couple of weeks; I don’t love the commute but I don’t mind being there. But it’s often just me or maybe 1-2 others. Having to go back would not be a dealbreaker for me, but it’s a small office suite, I have a door that shuts, and my coworkers are reasonable people, and all of that makes a difference. I don’t know whether I’m more or less productive at home. About the same, I’d say, but it’s harder for me to maintain work-life boundaries at home.

  133. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    Not a chance of it happening at my workplace – all office buildings were shut down and the leases terminated or allowed to run out. Additionally, when the company went full remote two years ago, we started hiring people from everywhere across the US, and now have people living in states where there never was an office to begin with.

    Company opened work hubs in states with the most employees, and one HQ hub in a really nice East Coast location. My state’s hub is a 90 min drive for me. I haven’t been to it yet. Would be okay with attending an in-person all-hands meeting (which is what we’d been told the hub would be used for), but it hasn’t happened yet. My odds of ever seeing the inside of the HQ hub are probably zero :)

    Both times when I moved recently, in 2021 and 22, I made sure that my new place had a room I could use as my dedicated home office. Have all my own equipment (except for the work laptop and the dock/hub it came with) and hope to continue to work from home, as this is the most comfortable, with the fewest distractions, work area that I’ve had in my career. In the past life I typically sat in a cubicle, in an open area a couple of times, in a 2-person shared office for the last two years I was in-office, and had my own office for a whole three months or so until another department wanted the entire area ours was sitting in, and we got kicked to a smaller wing and I was back in a cubicle again. Also my equipment is frankly better than anything I could ever dream to be issued at work. Large gaming monitors, a gaming mouse, a mechanical keyboard (which to be honest, I bought with my own money and brought to work even before we went WFH). A corner office with windows, freshly painted (by me last summer). I’d have to be top management of my department to have the working conditions in an office that I have at home now, and that is never going to happen.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Adding to my comment that the return-to-office wave happening outside of my workplace is definitely giving me pause whenever I think about job-searching.

  134. Melissa*

    My husband is a lawyer at a large firm. The work from home has collided with the “gen Z quiet quitting / work-life boundaries” and is creating a difficult situation. As a result, the firm is moving more and more back to in-office requirements.

    Their newest associates, who graduated law school in June, have a very different attitude towards work than the older associates/partners. My husband frequently complains about this situation: There is a court filing due on a Friday at 6pm (or 11:59pm). Standard practice has always been all hands on deck until the filing is submitted, which is usually right at the deadline. Recently, though, if he (and other senior associates/partners) send out an email at 4pm (or 7pm) saying “Okay, New Associate, please review XYZ and send it back to me in an hour,” he just gets radio silence back. If they were IN the office, nobody would have the balls to do that– because he could walk by their office and verify that they were there. If they are home, he has no way of knowing if they skipped out early to go for drinks, or had a heart attack at their desk, or what is happening.

    I am a big believer in balance, and I think it’s fine that the younger workers are drawing some firm boundaries. In fact, Big Law culture needs to change! But in the meantime…. it’s messy.

    1. Mid*

      That sounds more like an issue with a lack of clarity about who is working what hours.

      Are there set core hours? Do people communicate when they’re working and not? Is there something like Teams that shows when you’re online or not? Do they have phone numbers that can be called when something is urgent?

      Are the deadlines last minute or scheduled? (Eg is it common for people to leave early on Fridays but sometimes there’s a surprise deadline so if you’re already gone, you’d miss it, or is it known in advance that there will be a filing on Friday?) If so, why are there so many things waiting until the last second to be filed? (I work in law, I know some surprise deadlines are unavoidable, but generally they aren’t actually surprises and are just left to the last minute due to poor planning or being understaffed. That’s honestly just a lot of Big Law culture for whatever reason—making things more difficult and stressful than they need to be Because That’s How It’s Done.)

      Also, has anyone clearly communicated with the new employees what the SOP is, that it’s all hands on deck until filing is done? Because that would probably be the first step, rather than blaming an entire generation for not mind reading an unspoken norm. If they’re new, they don’t know all the weird norms of Big Law, because it’s a very different set of working norms than other jobs, even other law jobs.

      And then I’d encourage your husband, if he has the capital, to push back on the idea that everyone needs to be involved until midnight, and that everything has to be done last minute. Why does a partner, multiple associates, and multiple admin staff have to be in the office until midnight working? Why is getting your work done during work hours seen as “quiet quitting” rather than being an efficient worker?

    2. Legally Blonde*

      This is fascinating to me, because I feel like it’d almost never happen at my firm! I’m not in litigation, but do deal with all-hands-on-deck filing evenings sometimes, and I’m somewhat junior (though not a new associate). My sense is that everyone, even the new associates, knows that a few years ago they could have had to stay at the office late to get things filed, and so are super responsive virtually to make up for the benefits of making dinner or sitting on your own couch while you wait for a partner to review your work. A few months ago, a coworker and I were both up late babysitting a few large files as they very slowly uploaded to a government website, and our supervising partner literally said that he hoped we were at our homes with glasses of wine to do the babysitting.

  135. Chocoholic*

    Pre-pandemic, my office was 100% on-site/in-office work. Working at home was a rare instance, and was only for one-off situations such as needing to be home to let a repair person in, etc. If there was inclement weather, we had a snow day.

    Since Covid, we have a new CEO who has allowed people to continue having some WFH time, and that is what people want. We’ve had only 1 issue with someone who was not working when at home, and when we told him he’d need to come back into the office for a period of time, he quit.

    Our policy is people can work at home 2 days and in the office 3 days. We have several people who prefer to work in the office 5 days, so they do. We had a bunch of people out of the office with Covid in November/December so we asked people to switch that until the end of January and do 3 days at home/2 days in office. Some people still preferred to be in office 4 or 5 days, and we were able to accommodate that for them.

  136. Jennifer Strange*

    I work for a performance-based non-profit. As soon as they were able to, they brought back all folks whose work truly requires them to be on-site (set builders, costumes, and such), though they really did put in a lot of effort to continue to make it safe for those employees. During that time those of us who could work from home continued to do so unless there was a big reason for us to be in the office.

    Recently, though, they said that all employees were required to be in the office at least three times a week (though in cases of a COVID exposure folks are instructed to work from home if able to). The only reasoning I’ve seen for this is that it’s out of fairness to other employees, which just doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to me. To be clear, there are times that it makes sense for me to be in person (both for specific tasks as well as for events that my department is overseeing) but roughly 90% of my job can be done remotely, and my team is still just as collaborative virtually as we are in-person.

    I’m interested to see how things progress as we continue to navigate the post-pandemic (if we can even call it that) world. I’d be more hopeful if other likewise organizations in the area were bucking the trend, but from what I can see everyone is trying to return to business as normal.

    1. Giant Kitty*

      It’s not actually “fair” to make people who can do their job remotely come in for no reason.

      1. Inertia*

        I used to work in a client-facing department (not front-desk, but think front-desk; we had to deal with people in person every day). I found out after I’d been working there for years that *we* were the (supposed) reason the company didn’t allow wfh – because it wasn’t fair to us!

        I was furious. Way to make my department the scapegoat for refusing to extend any remote work at all to anyone, anywhere.

  137. Tech Writer*

    I’m at a mediumish tech company, and we went back into the office (on a hybrid schedule) rather abruptly at the end of October. Although to be fair, some employees had been there the whole time, and a big group went back in the spring as well.

    “Collaboration!” was the buzzword. There was some pushback during quarterly meetings, but it got damped down.

    Is there a difference? Not really. Just now I’m speaking less in my Teams meetings as I’m trying not to disturb my co-workers. And having a miserable time focusing when people gather right outside my cube to chat.

    Oh, yeah, and the costs of commuting and meals out, and how to deal with masks, and how to eat my lunch when it’s raining and the outdoor dining area is too cold and wet… yeah, there’s that too. *sigh*

  138. Nebula*

    The company I work for is encouraging people back to the office, but without mandating specifics. Within my team, we have agreed to go into the office on Mondays and Tuesdays, which is working well so far. Most other members of my team have to go to other sites at different points during the week; my job can be done fully remotely, but I usually go into the closest office to me (not the one I go to on Mondays and Tuesdays) one day a week. It’s still pretty empty at the offices, but I’ve already seen more people coming in recently than when I started, which was only back in November.

    I actually asked at my interview for this job what the flexible working/hybrid arrangements were: the fact it’s a genuine hybrid position where I can determine where I am for three out of five days a week is one of the things that contributed towards me accepting the role. The time I am in the office Monday/Tuesday is genuinely useful, because I am there in person with the people I directly work with – I have friends who have been forced to go into the office only to be on Zoom calls they could have done from home, and I’m grateful not to be in that position.

    All of these things my own employer does seem really easy – this coming from a company that had no wfh at all pre-pandemic! I think that shows that companies can change their culture around wfh/hybrid if they’re willing to listen to what employees want.

  139. It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s SuperAnon*

    Engineering company, making hardware and products that are used internationally and there’s strict export requirements to adhere to.

    Our shop employees (hourly and salary) have been onsite all along, but at reduced capacities. All other departments are coming back onsite hybrid with 2 designated days per team since June with hot desking being the official direction.

    In reality, some team members are staying 100% remote and there is no way to force them to come back without risking them leaving the company entirely, so management is not pushing it. The work is getting done, and since we have multiple sites around the country we use Zoom even in our conference rooms.

    On the other end of the spectrum, some recent college hires are coming in every day even when their direct team members aren’t in because they have fewer distractions (living at home/with roommates is rough) and get more out of their days when they can ask someone nearby a quick question rather than waiting for a zoom meeting or maybe a Teams response. After spending a year virtually mentoring a new hire and assigning/reviewing work 100% remote, having some amount of actual facetime is so valuable for them and I make sure I’m in on our 2 days barring significant weather or illness.

    Tl;dr, we have guidelines on coming in and everyone is being treated like adults so long as the work gets done. Those who do come in have unofficially-official permanent desks that we share with the person working the opposite days as us.

  140. Sad Desk Salad*

    Small corporation here, with offices on both US coasts and employees all over the US/ex-US; we were already partially remote prior to the pandemic, and I only go into the office when I’m having internet/electricity issues, or upon an invitation from my boss or other groups for a social event. I’d say I go in 2-3 times a year at this point.

    I like my office, and my office mates, but they moved me from an office to a cubicle during the pandemic, and most of my meetings are highly confidential, so I took that as a sign to continue working from home. The place is a ghost town most of the time, so I go in occasionally when I need to do some deep, uninterrupted, meeting-free work because it’s so quiet.

  141. Rar*

    I’m a teacher and have been back fully in-person since spring of 2021. We are experiencing bad weather this week, and there’s been some pressure from parents to go remote for a day or two. We are not set up to do that — when we pivoted to remote in March of 2020, we actually took a couple of days off to make the transition. I’ve seen some articles about the end of snow days, and I’m wondering how schools are making that work — turning last-minute snow days into remote learning days. (We are not in snow territory — our bad weather is rain.)

    1. PregnantProf*

      The district where my sister teaches tried to do remote for snow days, but found that (surprise?) teachers couldn’t just flip formats, especially for younger kids when they weren’t already used to being remote and didn’t all have the technology at home. At least once they ended up doing remote with a delayed start to give the teachers a couple of hours to plan, but that didn’t work terribly well either. I don’t know what they’re longer-term plan is, or even if they have one, but they’re definitely not finding that it’s as simple as just “go remote today”.

  142. zuzu*

    Academic library here. We were fully remote for a year during the early days of the pandemic, when the campus was shut down (and before I actually worked here), then when the students came back, we did.

    I started here in January 2022. My first week was remote, as Omicron had shut the campus. At the library, we’re all either hybrid (4/1) or fully on-site for our part-time shelver, whose job can’t be done remotely. We’re still working through a backlog of update pages for our print serials and government documents that accumulated during the pandemic, when no one was here. At my last institution, the people who took care of that came in despite the official shutdown because otherwise they had nothing to do, and thus avoided a backlog later. OTOH, security is a lot tighter at my current library.

    Campus-wide, most positions are hybrid if they deal with students a lot, remote if they’re back-office functions, or fully on-site if they can’t be done remotely (custodial, buildings & grounds).

  143. CorporateCattleclysm*

    I work for a large global corporation, but work out of a US based office. We have been “required” to be in office 3 days a week starting halfway through 2022. Well, months of no enforcement and it was a ghost town except when there was free food offered. Now, January 2023 they are reminding all of us that it is required to be in office and that there will be enforcement (no word on what this means). The people who have been coming in the whole time are still coming in, those that continued to WFH full time are still doing so. The overall feeling is “just let us keep our flexibility and control over our own schedules.”

  144. Erika22*

    I work at a large international company. Before the pandemic our company had started some renovations to our [large city] office locations. When the pandemic hit and we began working from home, these renovations transitioned into a consolidation of our office locations with an open floorplan hotdesking-style space to allow for more flexible working arrangements. At first, when we started returning to the office early-2022, they struggled to motivate us to return to the office. I’d go in and it was virtually an empty office. Towards mid/end-2022, it was the opposite; I’d go in and be unable to do any work because I’d spend 30 minutes looking for somewhere to sit, then end up perched awkwardly on a modern-looking chair while trying to have a call. I and my team have since stopped going in unless specifically asked – most of the people we work with are external partners or are located in a different city/country, so we have little reason to be physically in the office.

    Another office located in [nearby city to large city] had their lease end during the pandemic, and our company decided to relocate that city’s office to a location further from the city center, which resulted in everyone local to that office complain that the new location was hard to get to and refuse to go in. Unlike the [main city] office, public transport is difficult, no restaurants nearby except for fast food, and nowhere green to walk on a break, so there’s very little to attract people. The company has still not managed to convince people to travel to that office, and as a result has had to sacrifice the canteen, and (rumor has it) are looking to rent out part of our floor to make up for the money put into renovating the office building. At least the few times I’ve gone to that office, I had no trouble finding a desk!

    Interesting our company has had both extremes in this regard.

  145. Essess*

    I have a relative in Federal government and some mayors of cities with large federal offices have been reaching out begging the Feds and other major companies to start requiring in-office work because the downtowns are dying with the lack of workers. This is having serious economic impact on many downtowns that were mostly office buildings.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Funny, I just read an article this week saying that local governments must start allowing/encouraging the now empty office buildings to be converted to other uses, including residential. That would solve the issue, but there’s a lot of zoning regulations and building codes that will need to be changed.

  146. Sleeping Panther*

    I recently left a non-technical role at a Big Four defense contractor, where I was required to come in “as often as my program needed me to,” which turned out to be once or twice a week. However, shortly before I left, we were told that personnel on programs that were behind on sales or major objectives would be required to come in more often, with no clarification of exactly what “more often” meant. My new job is at a large bank and requires me to be in the office three days per week.

  147. ThursdaysGeek*

    I work for a multi-state utility, so I’ve always had to communicate with others on my team electronically. When covid hit, almost everyone transitioned to working from home, and management saw that it was working. So they made a WFH policy, and allow people to work fully remote, hybrid, or in the office, with some caveats. We own the building I’m in, and it’s mostly empty. It seems a waste, but I suspect that management knows that making people unhappy would be a bigger waste.

  148. Anemone coronaria*

    My company is encouraging people to work on-site even if they don’t have to while allowing flexibility for people to wfh when their individual circumstances dictate.

    Companies *should* be encouraging or even requiring people to come in. Lack of connection at work is a driver of burn out, and managers have a responsibility to prevent burn out. Being around your coworkers enables connection better than phone or zoom calls.

    I will link an Atlantic article with a number of references in a reply.

      1. danny boy*

        Study design is flawed: correlation does not equal causation. There are numerous reasons why stress and loneliness have increased over the past 3 years, so tying it to remote work is tenuous at best, and these issues are just as much a problem for people who work face to face but do not suffer from the dysfunction of thinking of their co-workers as their “friends” or “family”. Plenty of people work from home and have satisfying social lives in non-pandemic times. This study needs to be repeated when there are not numerous other significant external pressures at work to see if the data continues to hold.

    1. mlem*

      Some people are burning out due to lack of work-forced “connection”. That is absolutely not true of everyone, and “force everyone to be in person!” is absolutely not a perfect, comprehensive cure-all. Come on.

      Members of my team are burning out because we still have to be on video meetings even in the office and there’s no consideration of personal circumstances when deciding what days or buildings to force people to. We’ve been doing great remotely, but the company is steadily losing staff because they want MORE remote options, not less. (And miss me with the claim that they just don’t know what they need for themselves and benevolent corporations can be the ones to save them by forcing their butts into overseen seats.)

      1. Sleeping Panther*

        Your comment about not considering which building people should go to resonates for me. In my previous role, most of the technical personnel I worked with were at the same site as me, but half the program team (including everyone else in my role and the entire finance team) were based at another site several states away. At my current job, I have to go to the office in my current metro area even though the rest of my team is in one of two states several hundred miles from me, and while I am moving to one of those two other areas soon, the team members there work out of at least two of four allowed sites in that area.

      2. Marshmallow*

        Most of my teams burnout is related to resource vs workload issues. I would say some of it is exacerbated for the on-site workers by fewer on-site people, but there’s an overall mis-allocation of resources vs assigned workload that is causing burnout in our team.

        Now… a lot of people probably won’t like this, but for my site, we need more in-person people. We don’t need the WFH people to necessarily come back (other than one manager that should be on-site until he learns what goes on there so he can advocate properly for resources), but we need actual operations staff hired. A bunch of people that will just be on conference calls all day won’t help.

    2. Alice*

      It’s not generating a great connection when I have to spend 16 hours a week sharing an office with a colleague who refuses to wear a mask. I already got COVID at work once, and I don’t want another round.
      If this colleague would wear a mask, or tell me “look, I don’t have to wear a mask but I promise I won’t come in with symptoms,” or “I don’t have to wear a mask but I will use our workplace’s free and convenient testing so that I find out if I have an asymptomatic infection” – well, our connection would be a lot better.

      1. Alice*

        BTW I just found out that next week I’ll have to go to an in-person meeting with a colleague who… well, I can’t *prove* that she in particular gave me COVID, but I spent time with her, in person, with her repeatedly blowing her nose, her not wearing a mask, 60 hours before I tested positive myself.
        We certainly have a “connection” due to working in person but it’s not a positive one!

  149. Pam Adams*

    My university is moving from a 3/2 to 4/1- if you have a ‘good enough’ reason to request WFH. They are also restricting the ability to work from home while unwell, which makes me think we will go back to the days of contagious people in the office.

    1. Pam Adams*

      The goal is to have all offices staffed in-person M-F, 8 to 5. My office has multiple employees, so we can easily accommodate WFH. Other offices, such as academic departments, may have one coordinator and a department chair, making it difficult to balance staffing vs. WFH.

  150. Diziet*

    I’m the CEO of a small UK charity, we’ve downsized our office to accommodate only the staff who prefer office based working and everyone else is remote with one all hands (in person) day/month. Works well for us, cuts down on office costs, travel and accommodates staff preferences. You can skive anywhere -office or home, it’s a management, not a location problem!

  151. stitchinthyme*

    My company never allowed remote work before due to security concerns, but when the pandemic hit, they had everyone go full remote. There were a few connectivity glitches at first, but since then everything’s worked pretty well, and my boss told me a few months later that remote work was here to stay, and we’re now allowed to come into the office or work from home as we please. I tend to go to the office about once a week, mainly for the free food and a change of scenery. (I actually like my office; I’d go in more if not for the half-hour commute.)

  152. Megan C.*

    I work for a state government agency. Most of us are one week WFH and the next week in-office. Some people work entirely one or the other depending on their circumstances. We used to have two buildings but when we were all sent home, they let go of one building so now there literally isn’t enough space to have us 100% in office all the time. We desk share with people on the opposite schedule from us.

  153. leeb*

    i’m director of ops for a manufacturing company, so i worked from home almost exclusively from march 2020 to summer 2021 – only going in if there was a major issue on production floor. then i started going in about once a week, now i do twice a week since i finally have my own office :)

    all that being said, there are no requirements. we are a small business. those of us who work in ops/admin usually come in 1-2 times a week to socialize, check things on the floor, etc. i am not going to require any of my employees who WFH to come in if they don’t want to and they continue to get their job done from home.

  154. MistOrMister*

    My company wants us back full time or at least on a hybrid 3/2 schedule. They tried to bring us all back as hybrid, but people were so unhappy that they changed it so hybrid is the default and you can apply to be fully remote or come in fewer than 3 days a week. I believe they were scared people would quit if they couldn’t be remote, and they have been having a hard time replacing talent so people leaving certain positions has been problematic. I have heard people say they would leave if we could no longer be fully remote and it seems management might be realizing that while a lot of people are unhappy, they will stay since they can work remotely as it is not as easy to find fully remote jobs and a lot of us prefer working that way.

  155. Dona Florinda*

    My company did a survey about this recently, but since the vast marjority of the employees wanted to continue being remote and it’s been working well for everyone, company decided against mandatory in office work days. So now there’s the option for a hybrid model for those who prefer it (the office just reopened after being closed for over two years) and every now and then my department requires everyone to come in for important meetings and such, but we’re still remote first.

  156. cottagechick73*

    The company (30+) I work for has been back full time since mid-2021. Work from home is not discouraged, but it is understood that it is really for things like weather/health/or other short term reasons. I am really here to comment more on what I have noticed in my area – a mid-size city in the mid-Atlantic. The traffic during my commute is back to the pre-pandemic levels with the highways full during rush hour. Seeing this, I am assuming that most of us in the region are back to working in the office 5 days a week and have been for quite some time.

  157. New Yorker who moved*

    My company wants people back 2/3 days (depending on our work load), but allowing people who do not live near an office to stay remote.

  158. Drspacemanmd*

    Mine’s not a new change, within the last 18 months, but: my office requires full-time employees to work hybrid (3 days in office). Freelancers can WFH full time. No exceptions.

    I’m a full-time freelancer and my hours/duties are exactly the same as staff. But because I need to WFH (personal mental health reasons and also I’ve worked from home for 10 years and don’t want to change!), I have to stay freelance.

    As a result, I’m ineligible for PTO, insurance, or raises, and I make about 10k less than my juniormost peer.

    I’ve applied to a few hundred jobs in the last year but no dice. I don’t even know how I’m supposed to move forward because the few remote jobs I DO apply for do a bait-and-switch (and are secret hybrjd hobs)

  159. Harried HR*

    I think it’s all about how it’s communicated…

    My job (250 ee’s) was 100 % WFH during 2020 and came back 2 days a week (A & B days) with deep cleaning on Fridays during 2021 and are now 3 days in office and 2 WFH. Each transition was communicated months in advance and is communicated to any New Hires during the interview process with Zero issues.

    However DH job is with a multi-national (30k + ees) and it’s a total $hit$how with varies departments having different WFH expectations for no apparent reason or reasons that have not been communicated and the turnover and employee engagement is terrible.

  160. The Ginger Ginger*

    My work has allowed us to stay permanently remote now, which let me move closer to my aging parents, but they are putting a TON of emphasis on events like all hands meetings to be in person, including footing the bill to bring remote folks in. So far those are still “optional” but there’s definitely pressure to attend. As someone with a parent with a weakened immune system I’m still trying to attend those events virtually (particularly with what seems like a new covid wave on the horizon), but I am definitely feeling the increased push to attend these events in person.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      We had one meeting like that so far. Was advertised as after-work drinks, 90 min drive from me *without traffic*, and it started at 4. I would’ve had to skip out of work in the middle of an afternoon for it, and couldn’t do it due to workload. They’d flown a new leadership member in to our state for this and I really wanted to go (and was feeling some push) and simply couldn’t. I don’t know how to feel about this. The meeting place was in an area 1-2+ hours away from where everyone in the department, who is in my state, lives. Very odd. Not even at our new work hub, just randomly at a place 1-2 hours away.

    2. irianamistifi*

      Oof I feel this. My mom was diagnosed with Leukemia at the start of Covid shut downs and had been in Chemo for 18 months amidst some of the most intense Covid precautions. My business was very understanding about me not coming into work for most of that time, but now they’re putting their foot down and saying that we have to come in, no matter what. So I’m doing everything in my power to reduce the risk to her: Testing before every visit, Only coming into the office on less-crowded days, masking whenever around non-family members, continuing to shop remotely.

      I hope your company continues to be understanding of your desire to mitigate the risks to yourself and your family. Best of luck to all of you.

  161. Albert "Call me Al" Ias*

    I work for a large multinational company. Prior to the pandemic, I was in office 3-4 days a week. Now, officially, I’m classified as “Hybrid”, and should be in the office sometimes. However, the office space that my team formerly inhabited was needed for a different team (that has more need to be together in person), and so I don’t actually have an office I could go to, even if I wanted to.

    There are occasional meetings with vendors or with some of our senior leaders that will have a conference room booked for us, and I try to go in person for those, but that’s been on the order of one day every 2 or 3 months, if that.

    In my situation, I’m not sure there’s any team benefit to being on site. I’m based in Central Florida, my immediate manager is also based here. Of the people I work with most closely on a daily basis, 3 are in California, 1 is in South Florida, 1 is in London (England, not Ontario), and there are a few other less-frequent interactions scattered about the US. So, every meeting is going to be a zoom call, even if I’m in the office.

  162. Deanna*

    Accountant for a university here.

    We’re three days in the office, two remote and everybody in on Wednesdays. It seems like it’s going to stick, mostly because you’ve got to pay in money or benefits… and we don’t seem willing to pay in money. The rules are unevenly enforced, with more flexibility for higher-level people, and a lot of in-office time spent in Zoom meetings.

    The employees would rather have more remote time than more time in the open-plan office, which is universally hated.

  163. Mary*

    My company CEO really wants people back in the office – he loves he can pop into the CFO office with a quick question. All the rest of us know what would happen if we tried the same thing.

    But after pushing 2 days wfh, three days in person in the office they are now planning to move to a 10 days month in person, which is a slight relaxing.

    The policy is not policed but senior staff often complain about the empty desks. Myself, I am in a department that has to be in office to do our job. I like being in work, I also like WFH, as my particular role lends itself to that. I just hate the commute.

  164. Alex*

    I work in a well known low paying field, and while they aren’t requiring that we all come back (because I think they know there would be a mass exodus), there have been a few complications. It is clear they WANT us to come back, and so they are trying (and failing) to make us want to want to. They have lunches and have formed a “culture committee” to try to lure people. They are also hiring locally, when they can, and putting in their job ads that hybrid work is required. This is ridiculous, because the office is so sparsely populated that new hires soon realize they are the only ones coming in. What also doesn’t help is that leadership keeps saying they want a buzzing office…but then they often don’t show up themselves. Morale is in the toilet. And if the order came down that we all MUST go in, which it might, I think the workers might eat the director alive.

    It doesn’t help that during the pandemic they changed from a cubicle farm to a completely open office…that no one wants to work in. Why would anyone leave the comforts of home to come in to a mostly empty office and sit on uncomfortable bar stools in an open concept office? Dumb.

    Since our field is so low paying, no one can afford to live anywhere near the expensive area where our office is located. Almost everyone would have a commute of over an hour. No parking is provided, so you have to either pay through the nose for parking or take public transportation. Public transportation in our city has struggled since the pandemic and has been drastically cut. It’s actually quite challenging to get into the office if you are one of the lower paid people, unless you perhaps like to live with 10000 roommates and ride a bicycle. Which some people do, but that lifestyle isn’t conducive to having a family life and building a financial future for yourself.

    1. Robin*

      I am 100% with you on the new hire thing. I was that new hire and while I enjoy being in the office, it became very clear very quickly that few folks were actually coming in unless strictly necessary.

  165. Robin*

    I am in a Chicago nonprofit. We are supposed to be in once a week and we are encouraged to all come in on one of two days. I feel like it would make more sense for all of us to come in on the same day for the weekly team meeting but I do not care enough about it to bring it up. I go in 3x because I want to. The only reason to come is now is for mailing stuff but we rotate mail duty to handle that. I know a few coworkers on my team who never come in at all. Very easy to WFH for basically any reason.

    This level of remote work is probably particular to my team because our client meetings are always by phone/virtual. Other teams have client meetings in person so I imagine they come to the office more often.

  166. dog on a log*

    i work for municipal government and we’ve been full time in office since autumn 2021 coming straight from the top (commercial real estate is a deep pocketed donor in my area and they’re pushing it for the private sector as well). however we are so underpaid and understaffed that my bosses have started allowed one super secret wfh day a week, with extra flexibility if you’re ill/having commute problems/etc. we’ve still lost 6 people of our 20 person office this year though and the budget office is making it impossible to hire.

  167. irianamistifi*

    I work in pharma on the project management side. They’re mandating we come back to work 5 days out of every 10. It’s not clear if it’s a rolling 2 week period or a set period. They want everyone to come in on Wednesday as the “collaborative” day. So, I have avoided coming in on Wednesday because the building density is too high for my comfort. The company has eliminated on-site covid testing, and made masking optional (My manager and I are pretty much the only ones I ever see masking at all).

    And I work in international project management, so many of my teams aren’t in the same building (or country!) anyway. So it feels pretty dumb to me, to make us take these risks when my group of collaborators can’t even be on site anyway.

    I’m waiting for the shoe to drop and for them to mandate that we MUST come in on Wednesdays. Right now, I do every other Monday and every Thursday and Friday. The building is much emptier and I feel a bit safer.

  168. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    I work for a State Department. The ones who went WFH during the Pandemic are still classified as “Remote Workers”. Some like me have to come into the office occasionally for things that absolutely have to be done in office (for me that’s once a month, for my boss it’s usually at least once a week sometimes more) Some people had to be in office due to their jobs and some chose to be in office. Some jobs are now being advertised as WFH. They have not reclassified us remote workers as WFH and there is some contention over this as WFH gets meal comps and travel time comps if they need to go to the office (training, mandatory meeting, picking up equipment, etc) but remote workers do not. Basically, though we have upper-level support to not return to office and have proven it works due to record collections. The only cases I’ve heard of where someone was forced back to the office was either the job couldn’t be done from home or there were performance issues where they were forced to return to the office as part of a PIP. Shy of a new political party taking over the governors position, I do not see WFH ending.

  169. LabRat*

    I work for a small biopharma company, and we’ve been working hybrid since April. At that time, it was “we want you on site 2-3 days a week”. Several people in my group and larger department went fully remote at that point, and we have been hiring folks fully remote as well.

    HOWEVER, this fall there was an announcement in an all staff meeting that they wanted everyone on site on Wed and Thurs, starting the next week. The Q&A BLEW UP, both over the short notice AND the dictating which days to come in. Thursday makes sense because we have lunch catered in, so lots of folks are going to be around and it’s a good time to schedule meetings, but the Wed requirement felt pretty arbitrary.

    At this point, my group’s VP has said “Thursdays yes, be here, I trust you to manage whatever your second day is” but I get the impression there has been pushback from higher up on that so we’ll see.

    We’ve also learned they’re looking at badging uses to see who’s coming on site when; because I’m a gregarious sort who goes in 3 days a week, we have joked that I’ll just bring everyone’s badges in with me and claim a giant carpool arrangement.

  170. Data Analyst*

    I work for a large insurance company. I was hired in the town where their headquarters are, for an in-office position, at the start of the pandemic. So I started as remote with vague “I’m sure we’ll return…someday” statements. As time went by, the company changed their tune, praising us for how well we did working from home, said that this would be “our new normal” and “we will never have a return to office event” ….then in September 2022 they announced that actually we needed to connect with each other and create “Moments That Matter” by being in person half time, oh but we’re still committed to being flexible so you can choose which days you use, and you have to be doing this starting in November.
    It was a shit show! So many people had rearranged their lives, including moving to different locations, based on the assurance we’d be permanent WFH. A lot of people hired further into the pandemic were specifically hired as remote employees. But they’re included in RTO anyway. And we got two months to scramble to make this work (less for managers). Oh and you have to comply if you’re within 50 miles of a hub office – so, many people would be in a situation of having to commute in, but still be in a different office than the rest of their team (i.e. I am in the midwest but have one teammate in Atlanta) so they can just Zoom the rest of us from the office they’re made to go to.
    I know some people who left just because they were so annoyed by this, and they actually left for other companies where they have to be hybrid…so it’s not even necessarily having to go in to the office that people are objecting to. It was that they felt like the company really pulled the rug out from under us, and were totally disingenuous about it. No acknowledgment of this being a 180, other than “well, business needs change, so plans change” and “we need those Moments That Matter!”
    As you can see, I am still annoyed by it. I am okay though – my manager is awesome, and I requested an ADA accommodation to WFH permanently, which has been granted – my psychiatrist filled out a form saying that I will experience an increase in anxiety if I work in office, and that will impact my productivity. She was like “I’ll word it for maximum impact, but it’s not a lie!” Seriously though – I have previously always had inconsistent job performance as a direct result of my anxiety. Sometimes I’d do great, sometimes really not. This is the first job where I’ve had consistently high performance, and the first job where I’ve been promoted. Working from home has been life-changing for me.

    1. WaterTasteTester*

      This sounds exactly like my company’s playbook. We also seemingly bought into “moments that matter” (same verbiage). I’m in automotive.

  171. AlphabetSoupCity*

    My company has fully committed to a hybrid model as a company, not for individual employees. I was hired as a fully remote employee and am a 6 hour drive from the nearest office location. Some people are hired as hybrid, but whether or not they’re expected to go in is project dependent. I don’t think this is likely to change.

  172. Snarky McSnarkerson*

    Large university here, part of a small research unit (about 100 staff); mostly left to our own devices with no student contact. Like some other companies, we have had an interim WFH policy turn into a standard WFH policy during 2022. There are a few people who choose to go into the office every day and I go into the office twice a week just because I’m sick of looking at my living room.

    However, recently our Director became concerned about emerging research that suggests vulnerable persons working 100% remotely are in danger of crisis (we’re very connected to health and well-being). So she has requested plans from each of our directors to bring in their staff on a regular basis – of their choosing. It could be quarterly, monthly, whatever. She just wants their plans on file. That way, she figures when the University decides it’s time for some butts in the seats, we’ll have it covered.

    I personally do not think it’s the right time (see all the comments about people grumbling), but I can see her concern with the University policy potentially changing without much warning. Last summer, she did request that all in-town Directors commit to being the “administrator in office” at least one day per week – just in case anything happens. That has been going well, but really, there’s less than 10 people who have a regular schedule to go into the office.

  173. Firm Believer*

    Interestingly, I’ve had a few young people resign because they feel that they aren’t getting enough facetime with our current policy of one day a week in the office. They do see that they are missing out on collaboration, culture and development of soft skills as well as exposure to senior leadership. I think we’ll see more in person work in the future.

  174. Goose*

    Large non-profit, international

    Those who work outside of the hub city continue to work remote, but those in the hub city are encouraged to go in once a week. We’re remaining incredibly flexible, but because so many of our programs are in-person, field staff couldn’t be remote even if they wanted to.

  175. The Coolest Clown Around*

    I work for the Department of Defense in a mixed Active Duty and civilian setting, with the majority being civilians locally. While there haven’t been any direct orders to stop teleworking, the soft pressure has been slowly building to come into the office more with the clear implication that in-person work will eventually become the default again. This has been frustrating for me as someone with a disability who benefits from being at home in a controlled environment, since this has allowed me to be safer and more comfortable over the past two years than is otherwise possible. While I am capable of working from an office, working from home has allowed me more privacy around minor medical events and saved me some meaningful inconvenience. While there is some indication that it will be easier for contractors and civilians in high-value positions to bargain for more teleworking, the emphasis is shifting toward in-person working with some flexibility when supervisors are willing to expend capital to push for that.

  176. irritable vowel*

    I work in higher ed – our university has left the decision to return to the office to the discretion of departments/managers, based on business needs, which is a lot more humane and rational than I’ve seen at other universities where there’s a university-wide arbitrary mandate that everyone needs to be on-site X days a week. (This is often rationalized as necessary to give students “the full on-campus experience,” aka quell parent complaints that they’re not getting their money’s worth. Never mind that many of us have no face-to-face interaction with students. They just want the place to look busy.)

    In my department, one or two people go in a couple of days a week, and everyone else has been happy to stay 100% remote, including me. However, we’re undergoing a leadership transition at both the president and dean (of my college) level, so we shall see if this policy continues or if the new people feel the need to make their mark by changing it up.

    1. irritable vowel*

      My partner works for a large, multinational company, and US employees have been “mandated” to be in the office 3 days a week since September. However, enforcement of this has been left to managers and my partner is fortunate to have a manager who doesn’t want to go back to the office any more than he does. So, he continues to be 100% remote. They’re lucky that the people in the company they work with are all based at other sites, so there’s really no justifiable need for them to be on-site in the local office.

  177. Bippity Boppity Bummer*

    My job was in-office pre-Covid, then shifted to 100% remote, and has recently shifted back to in-office a couple of days a week. Most employees were happy working from home, but leadership signed a lease on a building because one person in the C-suite liked in-office collaboration. Initially, office presence was voluntary, but C-suiter didn’t love the attendance rate and has since made 2-3 days/week mandatory. Same person has also let direct reports know that sick employees should still be expected in-office, and can wear a mask *if they feel they need to.*

    I’ve recently resigned due to burnout and due to *gestures to paragraph above* and am hopeful I’ll find a saner, hopefully fully remote workplace in the near future.

    1. irianamistifi*

      YIKES ON BIKES. I would have hoped that, if anything, the pandemic taught us to NOT come into the office/school/places with people while sick. I’m seeing more and more evidence that the capitalist machine MUST BE FED, DAMN THE CONSEQUENCES.

      1. Tom*

        The situation in the comment you’re responding to isn’t the result of capitalism, it’s the result of bureaucracy and ego.

  178. Some Dude*

    My office is going from one mandatory all-in day to two. We were averaging being in the office two days a week at least twice a month anyways so it isn’t a huge change for most of us, but we have some super-remote employees that this will be a struggle for, and I’m wondering if the change isn’t in part to force the issue with those employees. Small nonprofit in the SF Bay Area. I’ve also noticed a lot of local nonprofits advertising a 3 day a week in-office schedule.

    My friend who works at a fortune 500 company said that they are going to start requiring their team to be in the office two days a week, up from one day a week. And in part it is to force the issue with the employees who are super remote (eg moved 3-5 hours from the office).

  179. Andrea*

    Chiming in here from manufacturing (well-known large global company). The message in 2021 was that flexible work was the way of the future, and everyone was designated fully remote, hybrid, or fully onsite (e.g. folks at the plants). Then suddenly this fall it was announced that everyone would have to be in the office three days a week to “collaborate”. People, including some very high up in leadership, were incredibly upset. There is speculation that it will mean the return to driving two hours through rush hour traffic to get to a mandatory in-person meeting that could have been done over Teams.

    It doesn’t affect me personally that much; my job requires me to be there several days a week anyway, and my boss (and his boss, and his boss, who is the guy in charge of our whole facility) has stated several times that the flexible schedule has been successful for our team and he doesn’t plan to change anything. Which is nice. But I’m a much different employee under “it only counts as work when you’re in the building” than I am under “work means doing what you need to do to ensure success for your employer and your coworkers”.

  180. Silly Salmon*

    Currently most people go in as needed, although people have been strongly encouraged to work in person, especially managers and above. My favorite was seeing 3 directors all on the same video call, each taking it from their office rather than together in a conference room.

    Sometime in 2023, most within my business line are being forced to go back 2 days a week, but the expectations vary by team within the business line. There isn’t enough space to have everybody in on the same days, so they are assigning office days by team. It’s going to be interesting to see how things work – I just keep trying to remind myself to be thankful that it’s only 2 days a week, but I’m going to be mad if I end up going in and all of the meetings still end up being over Teams.

  181. Wendy Darling*

    My company has been technically requiring us to be in the office 3 days a week but in practice has been extremely chill about it — enforcement was left up to people’s managers and the vast majority of managers didn’t care as long as work was getting done.

    But some leadership people got upset about not seeing enough butts in seats when they look out of their private offices, so now we’re “encouraged” to be in the office 4 days a week but “required” to be present 3 days a week and managers are being told to really crack the whip about it. Which is particularly annoying in my division because we don’t have enough desks for everyone anyway. They’re refusing to give us more desks until they see us showing up more, so we have to come in and be overcrowded and have people sitting in on other floors. Boo, leadership, boo.

  182. Jerry Darling*

    I work for a large global company that declared during the pandemic that hybrid and remote working were the new normal and they would allow workers to make their own schedules and choose when to come into the office. Some workers were hired as purely remote and living several hours away from any local office, under this new model. Now we have new leadership and as of Jan 1 they announced all employees are expected to be on site in the office an average of 12 days a month – an arbitrary number no one can seem to justify. They proclaim this a switch from associate-led flexibility to manager-led flexibility and managers are supposed to determine with their teams when people should be together for optimal collaboration. However, they have also moved everyone into a smaller space with fewer resources and “activity based working” meaning no assigned desks, just assigned pods or areas to co-locate. The building is loud, depersonalized, and uncomfortable to work in. Meeting room space is limited but as a global company we are all on cross-border teams and we are on video/phone calls for hours each day with colleagues in other geographic locations, so the idea of “team collabortation” being built around in-person time is ludicrous. I personally am the ONLY person in my functional group based in the US and more than half of the matrixed teams I support are in EU, India, China, UK and elsewhere. We aren’t even in the same time zones! How does forcing people into an office in this case benefit anyone? The response from employees has been overwhelmingly and openly, vocally negative and we are already starting to see a talent drain as people jump ship for true remote work.

  183. FoodieNinja*

    I work in higher ed, at a public university (in a state whose governor’s remote work policy was addressed by Alison at some point last year, sigh). The university had a ‘future of work’ committee doing all kinds of research until the governor’s policy came down, and then everything silently ground to a halt. Turns out the future of work is the past of work.

  184. AsterRoc*

    I’m in higher ed, and while staff have been coming back more slowly, faculty were required to be ack to “business as usual” this past Fall 2022. Many student-facing staff offices are offering more online options for student services, so I think some of those staff members are still remote, but not sure on others.

    What bothers me most is the inconsistency across the school for faculty meetings: some Deans have remote monthly meetings with their faculty, and some have them in person. There is absolutely nothing the in-person Deans for these meetings are doing that requires their faculty to be in person for these meetings, so why the inconsistency?

  185. Sarra N. Dipity*

    My company is spread across the US. All the offices except my local one (which has been undergoing the never-ending remodel) have re-opened, and they’re encouraging (but not requiring… yet) people to come in, because SYNERGY.

    If they start requiring me to come in, once my office is open, I’m going to start job-hunting, honestly. But management has made noises that could be interpreted as “we may not re-open this office in order to save money”.

    Everything that we do other than meeting with clients face-to-face (which is very rarely necessary) can be done remotely.

    I’ve noticed a real divide in people who are pro/con on return to office.
    Pro: younger entry-ish level workers, upper management
    Con: Gen X, parents

  186. Poppy*

    My husband works for a branch of the US military as a civilian. He had been WFH for two years before they insisted on having to work at the office for at least one day per week. Where the heat and air conditioning work inconsistently and he had to wear GLOVES to keep warm at his desk the other day. He almost never interacts with his coworkers in person and all his site meetings are now over Zoom. I can see the absolute exhaustion on his face when he gets home after his office days and he’s just miserable.

    My job stopped requiring me to come to the office every day at the start of the pandemic (I’m usually on the road most of the day and don’t need office space). I just started declining to go unless I absolutely had to.

  187. JB*

    I’m with a DC-based non-profit. Pre-pandemic, we had a detailed, formal telework policy allowing employees to work from home 1-2 days per week on a regular or ad-hoc basis. Not all positions were eligible for telework, and staff had to apply and get formal, written approval. If a position had ANY in-office responsibilities that COULD happen daily, they weren’t eligible to telework.

    Quarantine: we went 100% remote and figured out how to manage in-office responsibilities by converting to digital/paperless processes, providing more WFH equipment, increasing our use of virtual meeting tools. We reduced our need for physical space during this time by getting rid of equipment, artwork/awards/displays, bulky furniture, paper archives, etc. and moved to a smaller/cheaper office space.

    Since moving into the new space and through the present, our not-quite-formalized policy is that all staff may work remotely at their discretion (with supervisor approval), staff are outfitted with the equipment/supplies/furniture they need to WFH and the office, and in-person/in-office presence for specific activities or meetings is explicitly justified and is communicated in advance. We’re also keeping the pandemic policy of if you or any member of your household is sick (with any illness) or has been exposed to COVID, you must WFH for the appropriate period of time no matter what.

    Discussions about whether or not we will have regular in-person/in-office requirements such as 1-day per week, or monthly all-staff team-building meetings, or department-specific meetings/retreats is underway. It feels very much like our current policy is subject to change.

    Staff feel extremely strongly that they want to WFH as much as possible, with no in-person/in-office requirements that aren’t expressly justified. Candidates for open positions consistently give us this preference as well.

    Our current policy is aligned with this staff preference. Leadership, however, refuses to commit to it for the long-term. The reasoning (whether explicitly stated, implied, or suspected) is:
    – the assumption that team and culture-building can only or can most effectively happen through regular in-person interaction;
    – the desire for leadership to be able to “pop-in” and talk to staff organically about their ideas and issues;
    – the assumed value of “water-cooler,” random, ad-hoc, organic, hallway conversations among staff, especially staff who’s work does not typically interact or overlap;
    – the suspicion that an employee who can’t been seen physically is not working;
    – the assumption that staff who don’t want to work in-person/in-office care less about their work, our work, our mission than those who are willing to come in;
    – the claim that virtual meetings and conversations are stilted/less generative than in-person conversations;
    – sunken costs for space, equipment, decor;
    – the desire for leadership or staff to “show off” through our building, office space, decor, etc.;
    – assumption that peer organizations are working primarily in-person, and that doing otherwise puts us out of sync;
    – concern that our board will doubt staff productivity and commitment to our work, our mission if we’re not working in-person;
    – unstated assumption that a 100% remote/virtual office is impossible.

    FWIW, I think that the best path forward is to stick with our current practice, and I hope that we formalize it. I think it’s an organization’s responsibility to provide or make possible whatever their staff need to do their best work from wherever they want or need to do it (from home, in office, at a peer’s office space, over coffee at a cafe, while taking a walk, etc.). And, any requirements need to be explicitly stated and justified, and not based on unspoken preference from management or assumptions that the way we’ve always done things is the most effective way to do them.

  188. Rosieko*

    Yep, my organization is trying to get everyone back in the office too. No one is happy about it. Our work does not involve face to face interaction with anyone. My work is 90% research, writing, analysis, and strategy. I am so, SO much more productive working from home, because of the nature of the work itself, my own work “flow”, the discomfort of the office, and saving 3 hours/day on the hair/makeup/commute routine. I can’t focus when the AC is freezing and my work desk makes my back hurt and my neighbor across the hall just sprayed suffocating perfume. It will take me two or three times as long to produce lower quality content if I’m interrupted while writing, which, from the office, includes simply needing to use the restroom because it is all the way across the building. At home it’s 10 feet away so I can maintain my zone. If I get in the zone at 2pm at home, I can go on a tear until 8pm and produce something amazing. From the office, I stop at 4:30, spend an hour in the car, and feel dead to the world by the time I get home. It’s so unbelievably stupid and counterproductive and I will be leaving over it. And that’s all just speaking to the business case – not to mention the personal quality of life angle. I will NEVER do 8-5 5 days a week again. Everyone else on my team is searching too.

    1. Alwayz*

      I could have written this myself.

      When my last employer forced all of us back into the office, 5 days a week, with no discussion or time to adjust, they lost all their writers, myself included.

      They didn’t care about the huge disruption it caused to all our lives, or that we’d been hired to work remotely, or that I’d be spending 4 hours a day commuting amidst severe weather and cost of living pressures. Or that all the writers would be in different offices.

  189. Mim*

    No big changes in the past couple of months.

    IF you ignore that the public health situation has shifted under us again to Very Very Bad and Scary (especially if you are a higher risk person, which many folks are w/o knowing it because of repeated covid infections for 3 years…). We *shouldn’t* be on site nearly as much as we are. We should be back to mandatory masking for folks who have to be on-site, and having people who can WFH do so fully, so people who have to come in can have more space to do so safely. So I guess that *is* big changes, as in lack of proper response to reality, and holding on to the current hybrid situation as if it’s a gift.

  190. Brain the Brian*

    We continue with one day per week, but once a month or so, management now shifts everyone’s day so that we’re all in on the same day rather than staggered by department. They’ve indicated that no further changes will occur until at least midyear, in part because our CEO is retiring and he’s not inclined to make changes right before he’s gone. Nonprofit sector here.

  191. BluRae*

    The office my company leased literally does not have enough desks if everyone in the area decided to come in on the same day, so there’s no push towards that and we’ve hired plenty of people who don’t live anywhere near any office.

    However the company recently started doing once-monthly in-office lunches to try to get people to come in at least sometimes. The lunches aren’t required so it’s more carrot than stick at this point.

  192. brjeau*

    I recently started at a small, relatively new global nonprofit. They officially pivoted to a “remote-first” model awhile into the pandemic and have no intention to move back. Employees have membership/access to coworking spaces, but there’s no expectation or minimum amount of “in-office” time, including in hub cities where the organization has reserved rooms. People will sometimes have meetings in person but it’s voluntary, and there’s an in-person retreat 3x a year but they’re accommodating of people who can’t attend.

    The amount of transparency, attention to detail and relevant equity issues, and even enthusiasm for this model that I’ve seen including people at the top levels wasn’t *the* deciding thing, but it was definitely a major factor in accepting their job offer (the pay and benefits, and detailed DEI policy & action plan were also pretty significant factors!)

  193. Momma Bear*

    Yes, a lot fewer exceptions are being made and a lot more people are spending more time in the office. A few folks decided this wasn’t for them so they’ve left the company. People have urged leadership to consider telework options to attract new talent but so far no traction.

  194. Dawn*

    Remote work at my company – in Canada, and a major employer – is remaining remote, no problems.

    My suspicion, and it’s mostly anecdotal, is that while return-to-work is undoubtedly increasing, it’s not nearly so steeply as some people believe, because people being forced back to the office makes a better “news” story than “people continue to work from home, no changes here” and are getting a lot more media attention.

  195. SINE*

    Last year, I joined a company that officially opened the office back up this week. The guideline is that we spend 40%-60% of our time in the office (I knew this was going to be the case when I interviewed). However, we can split that any way we want: 2-3 days/week, AM or PM half days, etc. Since it’s my busiest time of the year, I’ll probably be spending almost every day of January in the office, which means I might only go in for a day or two in February.

    I will note that the culture here is unlike any other place I’ve been – people seem to genuinely like each other and when I talked to folks in December, a lot of them were excited to meet face to face again. I think this is partly due to a great culture (for years I’ve heard past and current employees rave about the culture) but also because the nature of our work requires *a lot* of collaboration. For certain projects, it’s just easier/faster to get our work done when we’re sitting with each other.

    This isn’t to say every single person is jazzed about going in but given the guideline, I think everyone appreciates how much flexibility there is in choosing how we want to split our time. We get to make the best decision for what works best for our personal situations.

  196. Pharma*

    our company line is that we’re expected in 3x a week… in practice, it is not enforced and my department goes in once a week on our designated “day” – I don’t expect that to change.

  197. Ceph*

    I work for a publicly traded tech company in the US. Our very flexible hybrid policy required minimum one day a month in the office, with most teams choosing a day once a week to come in. They announced last month that they’ll be changing that to requiring FOUR days a week. This is actually less flexibility than many of us had here pre-covid! The reasons they gave have been vague claims about the culture.
    Our office can’t actually fit everyone who’s been hired since 2020 and we’re about to have NO office space at all because our lease is ending several months before our new office will be ready for us. No plan for dealing with this has been made — once a week or so we hear “we’re working on figuring it out.”

    The reaction to this situation is pretty unanimously very upset, and I’m going to leave over this.

  198. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

    We have been at 3 days a week for a while. Last year we all expected to get pulled in 5 days a week, but no. And still no. The official policy is one companywide mandatory day plus two days to be worked out with your manager/team. The senior management tried to do away with Zoom links to their high-level meetings to pull senior staff in whenever–especially as those meetings often have to move, so you’d come in on Wednesday for the meeting and it moves to Thursday and you’re expected to come back Thursday even though that’s your 4th day in now? It did not go over well and the links came back. We’re all waiting for the other shoe to drop (my bet was on 5 days after Labor Day) but so far? No change. I truly do not think this is because senior management is happy with the status quo, but because we’ll lose staff if they get too hard line. If this were a buyer’s market, they’d do it. As long as job candidates have the power, they won’t do it. That’s my take anyway.

  199. Frankly, Mr. Shankly*

    My last job (June ’21 to June ’22) was “in office all the time, no exceptions” apart from all the c-suite people who I never once, or very rarely, saw in person. So the hypocrisy was *awesome*. Especially when my mom had a fall and needed help to get to the bathroom in her apartment and an exception wouldn’t be made for me for one day of WFH (my manager approved it and then had to sheepishly call me at 11PM at night to rescind). So, I started looking that day.

    Now I’m at a nonprofit that is so bogged down in paper that I couldn’t WFH, even if they’d let me. And it’s 60% of the reason I’m looking again- 30+ years of the subway is enough.

  200. new kid*

    Large nonprofit – we’ve been WFH since March 2020. The update last year was that they were encouraging folks to return but there was no requirement except for exec level leadership who were required to be in office two days a week. Now the latest update is that they’re backing off of that even and are leasing out some of our office space to other companies. So I think we’re moving in the opposite direction towards full/permanent WFH and potential closing of some office locations.

  201. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    I work in higher ed and it’s REALLY dependent on whether the department is administrative, service, or academic. A lot of the administrative departments that don’t have much if any interaction with students or faculty, like Advancement, institutional data analytics, etc., they are permanently WFH and they lost their offices; service departments like IT and Financial Aid are more hybrid with some office time required, except departments that really can’t do anything from home like facilities; and academic departments are all back about 99% like pre-pandemic.

    But our space crunch is ever-present and there is always reshuffling of “academic space” vs. “administrative space”. My department gets bumped from our offices just about every 5 years; I’m surprised they didn’t kick us out completely over the pandemic.

  202. Thomas Merton*

    I work for an old, stodgy financial services industry company. After several target dates to return to office passed in the months after March 2020, the company (surprisingly) pivoted to allowing employees to choose their own workplace, whether 100% remote, hybrid, or full-time in the office. The vast majority have chosen the first option. I myself moved to another state, and have hired employees for my team who work across the country. That expanded recruiting pool has allowed us to bring in talent that would not have wanted to move to the home city if required. Our executives are apparently fully committed to the new situation, which is a welcome and humane approach.

  203. Not_Kate_Winslet*

    Opposite for me. I work in state government. Most agencies went to telework arrangements during the pandemic and many have continued in a hybrid or full telework configuration since things began to open back up. There is an ongoing huge vacancy rate in state-owned and state-leased offices right now, so the new directive from the Governor is that by mid-summer, all agencies will be housed on state-owned property near the Capitol, dropping any leased office space throughout the metro area. That means the footprint of the agency I work for will be changing from 6 floors of one building to 2 floors, and the result will be permanent telework arrangements for most staff. I’m honestly a bit sad – I like working from home, but I enjoyed going in a couple of times a week when it was convenient (for me, ha).

  204. Welp*

    I work in publishing in a HCOL area and my company was anti-remote except for select employees who made sweetheart deals pre-pandemic. While we have ‘loosened up’ by having 4 WFH days a week + 1 rigidly scheduled in-office day, new hires are forced in daily for 3 full months before given WFH options. Turnover for new folks has skyrocketed and I’m surprised that we’ve managed to retain anyone. Tenured employees aren’t that happy either. HR really bungled the rollout and provided little communication beforehand, which was a horror show for parents trying to figure out childcare. A lot of us are searching for new opportunities before our company tries to drag us in for more than one day a week.

  205. anon e mouse*

    My team counts as essential workers and have been hybrid from the beginning. Our management has been chomping at the bit to get us in-person full-time for a long while now. At one point in 2021, they demanded we all come back. We called our union, we contacted our great-grandboss, it got ugly, but they blinked first.

    Recently they ramped up their efforts again and changed tactics. Last December they demanded we come back 4 days a week and are clearly gunning for 5. The reasons why keep changing. Currently it’s a need for cross-training, as one of my coworkers is fully remote on bed rest in preparation for a maternity leave. How they think we have the time to cross-train each other while /also/ getting all our required work done is a mystery to me, especially as they’ve refused to hire another person for years. People in the area are generally apathetic about Covid now. All my coworkers and I are uniformly frustrated.

    Our team is siloed from the rest of the organization, but my impression is that it’s up to individual managers to decide if their type of work requires a full-time return. I don’t know why my manager and their boss are so adamant on this. This is not the first decision of theirs I disagree with, but it’s the one that has me considering how to brush up on my resume.

  206. Claire*

    Despite consistently telling us (as recently as October 2022) “we’ve see that we can be successful with teleworking and it will always be an option,” my government job has now switched to “we no longer have a teleworking policy and you are expected to be in the office.” Our job does require certain in office things, which were being done even when we had telework. No one is entirely clear on why this change was made besides “things just work better when we’re all here.” What has occurred is 1. A lot of anger and frustration, 2. A lot of people leaving, especially support staff, and 3. A “wink wink, nudge nudge” culture where the higher up positions (not just management) still get to telework when they want to but the support staff does not. It’s already been noticed and it’s causing issues. And yet the higher ups are surprised….

  207. CLF_No more commuting*

    Yes, my office made everyone come back to the office 3 days a week starting in January. The required days are Tuesday through Thursday and there is not much flexibility with the actual days. I am very fortunate because one of my conditions for taking this job was to be permanently remote and they agreed.

  208. Interesting*

    I work for a mammoth company. It’s the largest of its kind in the world, and it employs several hundred thousand people. We’ve seen changes, but the changes are slow and cautious. There is desire at the C-suite level to mandate hybrid for most (people who weren’t telecommute pre-pandemic) in the US. (3 days in office, 2 days at home) But the VP level has reported up that folks aren’t willing to do that yet, so they have held off on mandate. In our offices in southeast Asia, there was a desire to begin mandating daily office attendance, but that was adjusted to 1-day per week. I expect we will end up moving toward true hybrid in the US and maybe hybrid overseas by the end of 2023. But who knows. So far, no strict mandates.

  209. Iroqdemic*

    Before the pandemic I was already working a hybrid schedule- Tues-Thurs in office, WFH Mon and Fri. Plus we are a multi-national company, so we have team members who live all over the US. So everything was happening on Webex/Teams anyway as far as meetings and whatnot. Then we got sent home March 2020 and I’ve never been back. Somewhere in 2021 I think, they offered to go back to the hybrid schedule or become a FT telecommuter. I chose FT telecommuter. So many teams went home and stayed WFH that they have given up the lease on one building, and are actually moving the remaining in-office employees out of the remaining building to a different, smaller office this year.
    On a personal note, I am never going to work in a cubicle farm ever again if I can help it. The commute, the office politics, I miss NONE OF IT.

  210. Jenna Webster*

    Those of us who can work from home in my workplace have been told that we need to be in the office “regularly,” which is being variously interpreted as between 1 and 4 days a week. So far, people are being left mostly to their own devices. It’s interesting to see how it is impacting my team as 3/4 of them must be in the office to do their work and a small few can work from home. Most of the people who can work from home either do so very irregularly or no more than twice a week, though I think at least one of them would like to do so more often. It has definitely had an impact on how the team relates together – not only some irritation, but also literally people not knowing who some of their team members are because when they are in the office, they don’t make an effort to connect and seem to try to recreate working from home with no interruptions.

  211. rainyday*

    My manufacturing company will be transitioning to 3 common days on-site this year for everyone that supports manufacturing hardware. This makes sense to me, because we are building a physical highly engineered product. That said, executive management has mostly moved out of state and will continue to work 50% remotely.
    I’m happy to be onsite in my support role, because again, we manufacture physical hardware. But I’m struggling with the general attitude. And might be looking for new work.

  212. Elizabeth Bennett*

    My company used to be butts-in-seats oriented, until March 2020. We were already running out of space to seat everyone prior to the pandemic, but once many of us demonstrated how successful we were WFH, we kept that structure. A few of us were offered to WFH permanently. Many people worked hybrid. We leased another building to house everyone.

    The chief officer of my wing wants everyone back in the office full-time, but there is literally not enough space, even with the 2nd building. We’re moving toward a hoteling structure, but in the meantime, new employees report to the office on a hybrid schedule until their boss feels they’re properly trained & they demonstrate they can WFH effectively. And we’re still hiring.

  213. Generic_Commenter*

    Techie in a large tech company.

    Before the pandemic, WFH was somewhat limited and mostly reserved for technical employees. I was remote due to health issues before the pandemic. Once the pandemic hit, we went 100% remote in record time.

    Once things started getting better, the C Suite would occasionally talk during company meetings about how wonderful it will all be once we can all get back to the office. There were all sorts of plans for office/hybrid/remote requirement. That finally stopped when someone asked, “Why do you keep bringing up coming back to the office when most of us don’t want to do that?”

    We sold at least one of our properties while hiring even more people so there’s no way to fit everyone in if WFW (work from work) was mandated. We also went from Open Office (yuck!) to Open Office Hot Desks (double yuck!) I’m not sure about our sales and customer service people (I think it’s team and performance based), but for us technical people, all the planned mandates were scrapped and those who want to work in the office do while the rest of us are remote. The company would lose too many people if they tried to force us to come in. Thankfully they understand that happy employees are productive employees.

  214. An Australian in London, currently in London*

    UK, London, finance & banking sector, IT job: no changes to official expectations/requirements. UK has a “let them eat cake” attitude to COVID safety, and inflation and cost of living increases are the highest in my memory as a working adult – throwing those factors in as I think they are relevant.

    Australia, Melbourne, finance & banking sector, IT job: as above, including the COVID attitudes, although inflation and cost of living increases are not so high.

    In job ads and recruiter contact in both cities, I see the proportion of jobs insisting on hybrid working decreasing and 100% remote increasing. These job opportunities are split 50-50 between end users (e.g., banks) and tech companies, although none are the Big Tech Giants.

    I read a lot of IT engineering management blogs and newsletters, and universally they agree that return to office mandates in Big Tech are “quiet layoffs” to reduce numbers without the effect on share price of actual layoffs.

  215. Miri*

    I work in higher ed in a HCOL area and I’m actually seeing the opposite. Many departments that are able to be fully remote (IT, online education) are now totally, fully remote with hot desk options available when the need arises or for those who want to come into the office. Our leadership historically was very hardline against remote options, but to their credit when surveys said people loved working remotely, they took it seriously.

  216. Silicon Valley Girl*

    Big tech company – pre-pandemic, folks could WFH a couple days a week, flexible, & depending on your job. For example, if you’re based in a California office but frequently have meetings with ppl in India, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing that from home or the office, it’s on video either way. The company shut everything down early when covid hit, 100% WFH globally, & eventually closed some of the smaller US offices in the past couple years. Opened the remaining large offices last year for vaccinated employees on a voluntary basis. I have no reason to commute 2 hours to meet with coworkers in another state or country, so I haven’t gone back. But I know a couple folks who are working from the office, usually bec. they don’t have great WFH setups (like bad wifi or too many ppl/kids around).

    Just this week, the CEO emailed everyone saying we’ll have “global collaboration days” this year that are 2 consecutive days per month in the office. I don’t expect I’d get any real work done on those kind of days because move of my project team is based in a different country than I am. My manager is local to me, but we actually live closer to each other than to the office — we’ve talked about just meeting at a cafe!

  217. YetAnotherFed*

    Don’t put this into an article, Alison. My federal agency is actually giving up the leases on some of our buildings for HQ (not certain about our satellite offices) as so many of our employees are now WFH full time. We do have (and previously had) the option to work remotely from anywhere in the continental USA and Puerto Rico with a high-speed internet connection for employees at a certain GS level, which was extended in 2022 to employees at lower levels and fewer years of service (and I don’t know if we have any teleworking from Alaska, Hawaii, or Guam etc. ) My current side of the agency actually was a pioneer in telework, so it doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem as it is for the other side of the agency.

  218. There You Are*

    We are still officially holding to the policy of “Be in the office 3 days a week.” My VP has said that 2 days a week is fine with him.

    But we can feel that things are changing and management wants people back all the time. From what I can gather from the rest of us non-management plebes, there are maaaaybe 20-30% who want everyone back all the time because that’s what they prefer (they were coming into the office by choice when the rest of us were working from home). They want people to talk to besides their partners and friends, I guess.

    All the corporate departments I’m aware of had their best year ever, metrics-wise, in 2021. Management has acknowledged and praised everyone for the great work. But now they seem to have amnesia about the reasons we all did so well working remotely (less commute, less stress, more time to devote to our work, etc.)

    1. There You Are*

      Forgot to add that I work in the U.S. corporate office of a multi-national manufacturer.

  219. Lore*

    My company (publishing) made an official policy as of fall 2020 that full-time remote work would remain an option long-term, and new hires as well as existing employees could work from anywhere in the country. When they reopened our headquarters building in fall 2021, people went back to their previously assigned desks/offices/cubicles and could test out any schedule they liked–the only thing they asked at that time was that if you intended to stay permanently remote, please let management know. And at that point the transition to laptops really kicked into high gear for everyone. Then in spring 2022 they asked people to formally commit to either retaining a space at the office or not; if you wanted to remain remote, you had until some point last summer to come in and clean out your desk or make arrangements for someone to do it for you. They did a reorganization of the space in late summer, so that the people who do intend to be in at least once a week get the offices/better cubicles, or people with opposing schedules can share offices. And then there’s a bunch of hotdesk and hoteling stations. I think people are generally pretty content with the flexibility–I know I am. We are definitely still working out how to be effective with meetings in the hybrid world, and there are positives and negatives for each approach–the fully remote people miss the casual collaborations that are a great help in our work; the hybrid people have to drag our laptops everywhere we go–but I love the flexibility and the ability to design my day around the work I have to do, where I need to be in the evening or for a doctor’s appointment, etc. Some departments have considerable in-office presence and others very little; I imagine next time the lease is up some more decisions will be made but for now this is working about as well as it can, I think.

  220. KarateSaw*

    My company pivoted instantly to default WFH; since pandemic now less than 20% of our employees work within 35 miles of a physical office (DC, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Miami.) I have consistently gone into the office (by choice) a couple of week, but there is no expectation of going back. I think they would love it if the people who lived close did come in now and then (weekly treats on Wednesdays like a free ice cream truck or a happy hour) but they get no traction. We’re closing our office and moving to a flexible workspace building in March. They’ve been counting the minutes until our lease is up, honestly. I’m wondering, though, if the “one day a week” schitck won’t pick up a bit after that, though, since the new space has much better treats the office won’t have to pay extra for.

  221. Anon for this*

    My site was fully in office (with a couple of exception for specific roles), then fully remote during the pandemic, and now 3 days in office (since about March). 3 ‘core days’ were chosen so that everyone would be in at the same time.

    We worked fine remotely – ish – it was harder to train junior people and some of them really struggled. There were a few people resistant to coming back, or to the idea that they couldn’t choose the 3 days they came in, but the whole site was surveyed before decisions were made and overall I’d say it’s gone very well. I really value working in person, our very collaborative work is easier (no-one has yet replicated a good remote whiteboard) and it’s much better for our junior employees career development too.

  222. Becky*

    My company (software and data analytics for the insurance industry) already had SOME full time remote workers before the pandemic and offices in 20-something states and at least a dozen in other countries.

    Before the pandemic my department had a policy allowing 1 WFH day per week–most of the department took it on Friday.

    We went pandemic full remote in March 2020 and while return to office was done in phases, we had a “real” return to office in August 2022 and we were told we had to be in the office minimum 2 days per week. Then about 6 weeks later we got a memo specific to the office I was in that because so many people had moved out of state and were now full remote and the office was so empty most of the time, they were going to consolidate all departments to the east wing of the building and rent out floors 2-4 of the west wing of the building. Certain departments, including mine, were literally kicked out of the building and forced to full remote. (I love it, I think only one person in the entire department wanted to be in office and the entire pandemic we basically ignored his encouragement to come to the office–he didn’t have any authority to order us to be in the office and those who did have the authority were not interested in it either.)

    My role is a little weird because I am on a team categorized by the ROLE I occupy but work more closely with the PRODUCT that role supports. The product department is the one that got kicked out of the building–we now have a department meeting once a quarter in the building and they simply reserve a number of the classrooms/conference rooms for the day. My team members in the same role are in all different offices spread across the country so I never see them in person anyway unless we are having a team meeting (we did in September, I flew to headquarters for a week).

    We recently hired a new person in my role and supporting the same product–the job was advertised as full remote and she is on the other side of the country.

  223. Anonforthisforsure*

    My job has been weird. We went back in summer 2020, apparently to avoid resentment from the employees of an affiliated company that were considered essential. Dumb, and dangerous! Thankfully we never had an outbreak at work. Our team (office workers whose jobs can be done from home) were allowed to come back hybrid, and team leaders have had some discretion. In fact, some of my team is now close to fully remote, even though they weren’t two years ago.

    However, we just were told we must report to the office the same 3 days a week. No reason was given except the usual “collaboration,” so I assume leadership just wanted butts in seats. It doesn’t impact me as I was already in the office 3 days, but it’s super arbitrary. My team beat all their goals last year with working configurations from “5 days a week in office” to “routinely works from other countries.” I hope we don’t lose any team members over this!

    1. Anonforthisforsure*

      Oh, added to say this is a medium-size nonprofit with a related business (the one that was considered essential).

  224. Rob P*

    I work for a UN agency based in New York. We moved to 2/3 hybrid earlier in 2022 and so far it seems that will be the long term plan for the vast majority in our organization—one fixed day and one day of your choice in office. Staying fully remote requires special approval and is not available for all roles.

  225. Engineer*

    Our company pushed hard for return to office in 2021 and then employees just didn’t do it, and now it’s at manager’s discretion. We’re a mix of office and fieldwork, so we were never fully remote even in 2020, but people like to be at home. Now it varies by team —- my team all comes in on Thursdays together for a meeting, and are encouraged to do another day too if we’re not in the field.

    Other teams have experienced more push, and are hemorrhaging people. My internal contact for a month-long project changed four times in November as a 12-person team that pushed for butts in seats lost 1/3 of its people. Now it’s January and the client has rehired us for a project expansion, and the team is even smaller, and my contact is just the manager because they’re worried about continuity.

    In contrast, my team is a similar size and does similar work for the company, covering a different geographic area, and we’ve lost one person in the last 18 months.

  226. ONFM*

    I work in local government and most of our city departments are still around 50% remote at any given day. The higher ups are furious and want everyone back every day, but a few departments had a majority of their lower-level staff flat out refuse to come back. “They can’t fire us all” apparently works. And since X department allows it, Y department has to allow it (according to our HR – whose employees also helped lead this little mutiny). The day to day impact is that nothing gets done quickly and if you need assistance from another department, you have to call 2-3 different desks to find someone who is actually in the office and able to accomplish a task. Essential workers are still coming to work every day (public safety, refuse, etc.), but they’re the only ones. It’s not ideal, but we’re having such a hard time hiring for the vacancies we have that we just can’t afford for many more to leave.

  227. Just Another Starving Artist*

    We’re going back to mostly in-office with one WFH day a week, and honestly most people are fine with it. My job is largely collaborative meetings, so for us working in person is preferable to spending several hours a day on Zoom or Teams.

    I’d also wager that the make-up of commenters on this site skews largely towards those for whom WFH makes sense — white-collar individual contributors with enough regular downtime to hang out here. If you need to actively engage with peope/equipment/anything other than a laptop, you probably don’t have time to be a frequent commenter.

  228. Andy101*

    I was hired during the pandemic when the entire company was remote. We only have to go in one day a week, but the problem is that it is inconsistent within our team.

    There is maybe a dozen people on my team, minus a few for being out of state. I noticed how quickly only about half of us are showing up one day a week, on the agreed day. Excuses are all over the place. So and so had a baby, has young kids at home, construction going on, etc. It is starting to build resentment for those of us that do show up.

    One person has only in been in one time, and this is after their maternity leave ended. I asked my boss if I have a baby then can I skip coming in one day a week? The rule should either apply across the board, or don’t enforce it on the rest of us. Yes, I’m complaining about one day! I don’t like driving in once a week, but I do it.

    Oh and the one time that the entire team was there was our holiday lunch. So free food and gifts. I’ve debated not showing up and stating my cat has separation anxiety but I’m not sure if that is wise.

    1. Ismonie*

      Not sure what is going on with your colleague, but I have a nine month old who is sick all the time, and some daycares have really strict rules and make you COVID test them and keep them home until you get the results every time they get the sniffles. My little hasn’t had a single day without nasal congestion since October 2.

  229. H.C.*

    Unfortunately, our leadership’s lack of concrete guidance regarding return to office (more or less “up to supervisor’s discretion based on business needs”) has led to a lot of unnecessary hurt feelings & office drama in our rather large org (~5000 employees) with accusations of favoritism, “where’s my sandwich” type whining (“team X’s manager lets them WFH full time, why not us?”), and yes – a good amount of resignations & transfers too.

    As someone who’s more or less worked in office the whole time throughout the pandemic, I simply do not have the tiniest violin to play when I personally hear those grievances (thank goodness I don’t work in employee/labor relations) but agree that leadership should be a lot more specific in their return-to-office directives (timeline of return to office, safety protocols in workplace, process for appealing/applying for perma WFH).

  230. Rachel*

    I am enjoying a hybrid schedule and don’t think I will ever want to change. Usually work 3 days in office and 2 home – I found this works best for me and my organization.

    3 days in office I get to collaborate with co-workers and have face time with the boss.
    2 days I am home, but easily accessible, to get more focused/detailed work done.

    Also, on the 2 days home, I have Dr. appointments, do laundry, dinner prep and often work longer hours without the commute time.

    I don’t think I could go back to all WFH or all in the office every day. Hybrid for the WIN!

  231. Fine with WFH*

    Our law firm (Canada) is officially mandating us back to the office 3 days a week as of next Monday. I saw it coming, but what shocked us was that they are mandating which days to come in. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

    From what I could see as an assistant, Tuesday and Thursdays were the popular days and it was always dead when I went in on Monday/Wednesdays so we were really confused as to why specific days were chosen. It felt like an extreme over reaction to our request for more clarity as to how many days they want us in the office. When we asked why these specific days were chosen, the only answer we were given by the big chief was that he chose Monday so people didn’t take 4 day weekends. That right there pissed off a lot of us. Like my jaw dropped when they said that because it was such a slap in the face to us assistants. We may not have been in the office, but many of us basically became on-call during covid. Lawyer wanted something at 9pm? sure no problem. Question on the weekend? happy to answer. But once again, our effort isn’t appreciated even though last year was “best year we’ve ever had”/“very profitable”.

    Now whether people will quit and leave over this new mandate? I honestly don’t know. A lot of people already left due to vax mandate and from the firm’s first effort to get us back in the office in 2021. Many assistants are very unhappy so we’ll see what happens but I won’t be leaving my job over it. What I do know though, is that all the WFH perks lawyers got used to (ei. assistants responding/working after hours) will be stopping once the mandate starts. Firm can’t have their cake and eat it to. Since we’re made to commute back and forth, then we’re not working after hours anymore and emails will just have to wait until next business day.

    1. Annnnon for this*

      I’m pro-mandate but otherwise have a very similar role and very much could have written this response. It’s so sooooo frustrating and upsetting, especially in light of (as with you) very excellent profit vs previous years.

  232. Anon the Fed*

    I work for the federal government in the U.S., and while we are definitely sticking with (seemingly, anyway) reduced in-office days and hours, and have expanded the number of jobs that can be done remotely, some managers are…prickly about this. The ‘butts in seats’ crowd are having trouble with the fact that they can’t “see” people hard at work, despite the fact that the *vast* majority of offices and individual workers here are more productive than ever with the increased flexibility.

    Recently one such manager tried to institute mandatory usage of time-management software that would require employees to fill every hour of their day (not sure down to what increment of time) with a task, in a billable hours-type format, which is not conducive to the work we do here. It was not made clear who, if anyone, would review the data from this software, no information on whether a manager would be expected to make time to review this alongside other performance data or someone in the office the directive came from (with little to no direct knowledge of the individuals’ work) would do so. No rationale was shared regarding the goal using this software was meant to accomplish, other than to babysit adult workers. Their request was met with such intense backlash from the community of workers it would have applied to, and their middle managers (about 80 people, I believe) that there was a pretty quick walk-back to “this is optional.”

    As of now (3 weeks later), I haven’t heard of anyone using this software voluntarily.

  233. Not Back at the Office*

    What I think often gets overlooked is the exponentially larger talent pool available when everyone is remote. Our in-person locations closed and now we can hire from anywhere, meaning we can pick the cream of the crop from all over the country.

    I think my company is still dealing with the residual effects of having to hire from the geographic area where one of our main offices was located – the talent and education was just not up to par for the number of jobs needed.

  234. Ann Furthermore*

    I am convinced that a big part of the push to return to the office is being driven by the commercial real estate industry. When the pandemic hit and everyone started working remotely, I thought for sure that companies would see how much money they could save on office rent and it would be a permanent thing, and that when it came time to renegotiate leases they’d opt for a much smaller footprint. Everyone was talking about how well it was working, how people loved working from home, and so in. Now all of a sudden everyone has to be back in the office.

    Who benefits the most by going back to how it was in the Before Times, when companies needed to have enough office space to accommodate a seat for every butt? The companies who make their money renting out office space, that’s who. Follow the money, and more often than not you’ll find your answer.

  235. SpecialSpecialist*

    My organization has a mix of positions that are front-facing and can’t WFH, semi-front-facing where as long as somebody in the department covers then others can WFH and they swap, and positions that could easily be 100% WFH. The guidanace (not rule) from administration is that those who can WFH are allowed to at their supervisors discretion, but must work on site when required (like all employee meetings), and the preference is to work in the office at least one day a week. But nobody is checking up on that. So far, my supervisors haven’t cared if my team adheres to that guidance. We’re one of the areas who could easily be 100% WFH because even when we’re in the office all of our work is done via phone, Teams, and online systems; none of our day to day work requires us to be on-site. We attempt to look like we’re following the guidance, but there are occasional weeks where none of us go in.

  236. Pitch Black*

    Private higher-ed staff here. We were sent home mid-March 2020. They made us come back mid-May 2020. Administration believes people aren’t actually working unless they are on campus.

  237. Former teacher, now remote worker*

    Our SaaS company has three offices – two on the west coast and one on the east coast – and a significant number of fully remote-always people (I am remote; the closest office to me is over 1000 miles away). If the execs had their way, the staff who are office-based would be in the office full-time, but they have realized that that is an unrealistic expectation and would limit our talent pool when hiring. Right now, all office-based staff are in the office on Tuesdays and one other day, and each team determines what their other day is. The offices are open M-F so folks who want to work in the office all of the time can do so. Other than the office managers, who have to be fully on-site, and a couple of execs, I don’t know anyone who goes to the office five days per week.

    My team of 7 is mostly remote – 6 of the 7 of us live nowhere near an office. Our company had significant numbers of remote workers before the pandemic, so remote work is well-established in the company culture and, as far as I can see, impedes nothing.

  238. cncx*

    I have just come off of a job hunt in Switzerland and I have noticed a lot more hybrid offers compared to before the pandemic and strangely, a lot more places where teams are part time. So some places have someone who only works Monday to Thursday and is only in one day a week. Every place I interviewed at tried to sell hybrid or remote as a reason to work there which makes me think that is the market now, I think two days in office only (and only with full time) is the new normal in the industry sectors and geographical regions I work in.

    There was always a decent amount of remote as in outsourced work here due to COL, so the work force in the country has always been highly skilled and in demand in the higher segments of the tertiary sector, which may be why remote and hybrid has gone over reasonably well here (again, in the industries I am familiar with).

    I don’t like home office at all (annoying introvert cat who takes great joy in paw swatting my face during conf calls and howling when he hears voices, stompy neighbors who smoke, bad sleep patterns) so the fact that I was willing to come in five days a week and in fact that is what I am looking for surprised some employers.

    In both of my pandemic jobs I was the person who went in and made home office easier for the others. I only did home office during the mandatory closures here. Job one appreciated it, job two, not so much.

  239. kad9k*

    For 2023, we’ve returned to office “full-time,” but with an option to WFH on Fridays.

    In late 2020 we were surveyed about whether we preferred in-office, hybrid (presented as 1-2 days a week in office) or remote. The company then announced we’d gradually move to a hybrid, 3-day a week schedule over the course of 2021, and that was our schedule for all of 2022.

    This most recent change was announced just after Thanksgiving and, unsurprisingly, has been very unpopular, especially since over the last two years we’ve heard executives proclaim loudly and often that our 3/2 hybrid schedule was the “perfect blend” of collaboration and quiet time. No real reason was given. I’ve heard the same rumors that it could be to avoid layoffs, but the cultural consensus seems to be that our CEO hates remote work and, seeing a trend back towards in-office, jumped at it. I expect to see a lot of turnover in Q1, though, especially in my department, as our work is easy to do remotely.

  240. Legally Blonde*

    Attorney at a big law firm in the US. We were previously three days a week in the office as of last fall, with a choice of what days to come in and broad exceptions based on childcare, immunocompromised family, etc. It varied a lot by regional office–I’m in a smaller office and I’d say about 2/3 of the office was coming in regularly (and free food offered on Wednesdays and alternately on Tuesdays/Thursdays meant that most people were coming in either Monday through Wednesday or Tuesday through Thursday). The sense I got from chatting with coworkers in other offices was that a lot fewer people were coming in three days a week to those offices.

    As of Jan 3, we’re supposed to be in the office Tuesday through Thursday barring one-off things like work travel, plumber visit, etc. I think the exceptions also got tightened, though I didn’t fall under the previous exceptions so I haven’t been keeping up with those developments. In my office, it seems like people were all in on the 3rd, but then the megastorm in California hit and we’ve been WFH since then for commute safety reasons.

    I’m kind of torn. I definitely focus better in the office, so I prefer to come in when I can regardless, and I really liked chatting with all my favorite coworkers on the 3rd, since they were all in the office! But the vast majority of my workload is with people in other offices, so I almost never would have in-person meetings, and I really liked having the flexibility of picking my own two days to work from home. For instance, I have a long commute, so it was such a huge benefit to be able to look in my fridge on a Wednesday night when I come home late and say “oh I definitely need to go grocery shopping tomorrow, so I’ll WFH then and have time to run to the store in the afternoon.” Or when my occasional insomnia kicks up, to know that I can just sleep in and WFH the next day. I’m really grateful that we’re keeping the hybrid schedule overall, but not sure how I’m going to feel about the Tuesday through Thursday schedule yet.

    1. Mid*

      Do you know what the requirements are for admin staff vs attorneys at your firm? I feel like a lot of firms have been implementing different rules for staff vs attorneys. (Sometimes for legitimate reasons, like some of the admin work is on paper and can’t be done remote, but sometimes it feels more like a power trip.)

      1. Legally Blonde*

        Same for the majority of admin staff, as far as I know. We have about three people in my office with receptionist/IT support/office services etc. roles who I am fairly certain are in five days a week, because the office is still technically open all five days. But assistants and paralegals have been hybrid as well, and I don’t think that’s changing.

  241. GlobalTechCoNotADeveloper*

    So far no requirement to be in the office any specific amount of time. There were rumblings, but I don’t think they will. Before the pandemic we were 100% work from the office though we could WFH occasionally. A few people had special agreements. Now it’s mostly at the discretion of the employee and their manager, taking into account tax implications for the company (only certain locations for your remote work are allowed). As well, they’ve closed some offices rather than continue to lease them, after surverying employees.

    For my personal job, it’s always been 90% working with people in other office locations, even pre-pandemic, meaining I’d be on zoom anyway for most of my official interactions with people. So the argument that collaboration is improved in person doesn’t hold much sway. Yes, I agree it does, but unless you’re co-locating everyone who’s working on a thing, that argument falls apart. Plus, I firmly believe that companies where the work can largely be done remote, if they figure out the collaboration and creative brainstorming that’s much easier in person, they’re be more resilient when the next bump comes, whether it’s another pandemic or snow storms that make roads hazardous for a week.

  242. Anonforthisforsure*

    Maybe off-topic, but I’m super interested in several posts where people said “management told us to come back to work X days a week, but no one did and we’re all still remote…”

    How did you pull that off? Was management just making a suggestion, rather than creating a requirement? Do you have a union contract or other leverage? Do your jobs require tons of specialized experience or are they otherwise hard to fill? Did all the non-C-suite employees present a united front by not coming in? This is fascinating to me, as that would’ve flown for maaaaybe two days anywhere I’ve ever worked before they started firing people.

    I don’t even prefer full-time work! I’m just so interested in how so many folks got away with it. Maybe it will turn out you all work together, LOL…

    I’m happy to post this in the next open thread if it’s not close enough to on-topic for this one.

    1. CubeDweller*

      They gave us a choice. Full time in office, 3+ days a week in office, full remote. Many chose the last two options.

      Well after a short while it was noticed very few people were coming in. There weren’t many managers to be there and see it, most of them were doing it too.

      If like 50% are part-time-office people and skilled/valuable, are you just going to fire them all? The office moral fallout alone would be horrible (see: Twitter).

      If it was a few people, 5% of people, they could do something. But it’s basically a giant uncoordinated accidental boycott. And our management seems to know it’s not worth fighting too hard.

      They’re trying to encourage attendance (under the guise of using what we have, as opposed to undefinable productivity boosts).

      But even if they really tried it seems like it would likely end in a pyrrhic victory. If the office was full of temps/low skill workers it may be different.

    2. Cedrus Libani*

      I think most of this is coming from tech and other high-demand jobs. When you’d be a major PITA to replace, and you have recruiters swarming your inbox on the daily…employers tend to be a little more forgiving.

  243. CubeDweller*

    My company hated remote work before the pandemic. Once things started to loosen up enough they tried to get people to come back to the office (for “productivity” reasons) but it didn’t work. In the end they moved to a smaller space.

    There still aren’t many coming in. The new pitch seems to boil down to “we’re spending money on this space so we want you to fully utilize it.” The talk of it being more productive is gone.

    Not many go in day-to-day. But when a decent sized group is there it’s so noisy in the smaller space/cubes with everyone on Zoom meetings it’s hard work effectively. And with almost everyone you talk to on Zoom anyway there is little benefit outside getting to leave your house for a change of scenery.

    I don’t know what will happen yet. Feels a little like the last gasp of trying to force office workers to spend every day in a small cube.

    1. CubeDweller*

      We’re a software company, by the way. So the most of our workers have no barrier to WFH like needing to see clients daily or use specialized/large equipment.

  244. CatWoman*

    My company will move into new, smaller office space this year. There will be open work spaces that will need to be scheduled, if you have a need to be in the office for some reason. Other than that, we are staying remote.

  245. Cat Mom of 4*

    I work in transportation. Since Covid, we have worked from home minus 1-2 days per year when we were required to work in office due to bigwigs visiting. A couple months ago, we started seeing pro return to office messaging from the head office, citing collaboration and all that. We got worried. Then we were told that we would be required to come in at least 3 days per week starting after New Years. No medical exemptions for people who were at high risk for Covid and no mention of how we would be kept safe, other than vague, we will follow CSD guidelines. The only exception would be to file for formal ADA accommodations. My coworkers and I all started seriously planning to leave. Realizing this, our management arranged a meeting where we could relay our thoughts and I told the higher ups that revoking WFH is something that people will leave over, knowing full well it might have been their intent to force us out all along. (Most of our team is experienced and paid ok.) By some miracle, they listened and let only our small team stay fully remote (minus any bigwig visits) but the rest of the company was forced into the hybrid schedule. I can’t help waiting for the other shoe worrying about this being an issue since we’re not officially permanently remote employees. But for now we are staying put.

  246. FMCG*

    I work for a global company that makes cookies, chocolate and biscuits. From this month we have to be back in the office three days a week but the top management is permanent remote. As you can imagine it has not gone down well.

  247. Alex*

    My Non-profit had moved to one day a week last year and was planning to go to 3 days a week but received push back. At the end of last year we were told it would go back to one day a week and we would be hot-desking (due to not enough one person offices). This doesn’t apply to admin support though, we are in 3 days a week. Its the program managers and directors who can only come in one day…

    Even so, we lost one employee last year when they were about to enforce three days (and she hadn’t come in for the one day a week before that) and another just left to work fully remote.

    I’m currently looking for fully remote work.

  248. Dave the Dog*

    At my former company they started last summer with “Your division is fully remote!” and without so much as acknowledging that people made big life choices based on that information casually commented at a meeting that “Because our division is hybrid, we should be in 2/3 days a week of your choosing, but your manager can decide if they will enforce it.” and completely flipped the script 4 months later.

    I started seriously looking for another job and quit a couple of months after the way they carelessly handled that change (our household had indeed made some big life choices based on the fact I’d be fully remote!).

    I’ve heard from some co-workers who are still there the company revoked the “manager’s discretion” part and required a minimum of 2 days a week of the employees choosing very shortly after I left.

    The latest is that they assigned 2 specific days per week to each manager’s team, plus requiring in-person attendance for company-wide meetings in addition to the required days if it fell on a WFH day. This was communicated on a Wednesday to come into effect the following Monday.

    Can’t say that I regret for a second leaving my former employer of 10+ years to get away from all that! My new company only requires 1 day a week in-office, flexible and at the employee’s choosing, and you’re free to leave and WFH for part of that day if your home life needs tending to.

  249. Cedrus Libani*

    My husband and I both have software / computer jobs at giant multinational companies. The people we work with are about 50-50 to be local, with the rest distributed worldwide. We spent nearly two years exclusively WFH, but now our employers are trying to reverse that. With very limited success.

    My company is back to the pre-pandemic policy of 4 days/week in office. My grand-boss came right out and said it: corporate just renewed the lease, it was expensive, they want to see the building get used. So I’m here on a random rainy Thursday, but it’s my first day this week. That grand-boss is here, but there’s only one other person from my team (out of about a dozen).

    His company is now threatening to take away the offices of anyone who isn’t on site at least 3 days/week. He thinks that’s a bluff; there are a lot more offices than people who meet that standard. Also, his grand-boss now lives in another state. He vocally hated WFH for at least the first year of it, was itching to go back, but now that he can go whenever he wants? He’s in once a week, at most.

    It’s kind of the worst of both worlds. The only reason I’d want to drag my butt to the office is to have low-friction interactions with coworkers, and they mostly aren’t even here. Which makes me less motivated to go in, which worsens the problem.

    1. Cedrus Libani*

      Update: there’s now a fourth human in our sector, just in time to join our team meeting with camera on. My boss is giving a spiel, encouraging us to come to the office. His camera is off, because I can see his office, and he’s not in it. But now there’s talk of trying to have our team meetings in an actual conference room from now on. Was that…nostalgia? Huh. I do in fact miss those. I’m at least faintly skeptical that it will happen, but I will cooperate if it does.

  250. ferrina*

    I’m at a mid-size consulting firm with offices across the U.S.. We have no in-person requirements- our offices are still open, but at this point a lot of people have either moved away from the offices or joined as a remote worker during the pandemic. They briefly encouraged us to come in, then I think the C-Suite realized that they didn’t really want to come in all the time. A couple VPs are really gung-ho to come back, but more of them have realized that remote work means they have something of a work-life balance now. Rather than being at the office until 10, they work til 5, have a break and hang out with their family, then hop back on the computer later in the evening.
    Plus it’s a perk that doesn’t cost us any money. We were actually about to lease a more expensive office space, then realized that with remote work, we didn’t need the extra space and could save ourself some overhead costs.

  251. KuklaRed*

    We are returning to the office on Monday, 1/9/23. We have to be in 3 days a week, M, W & Th. No one is particularly happy about this, but our CEO has a real bug about it, so off we toddle. It’s going to be loud – 45 people crammed into a WeWork style setting in a room only designed to hold 36 people. Sales people, customer support people, and my team all on the phone for most of the day. Yeah, it’s going to be fun.

    But hey, free lunch! Woohoo.

  252. Pudding*

    My director made me and everyone else at my level work from the office during the entire early pandemic. HR released a WFH/hybrid policy and he assumed it didn’t apply to his team. He also assumed we didn’t really want to work from home (nobody pushed back because his assumptions about people working from home were so unflattering, no one wanted to be seen in that light.) The VP above him was the same.

    We had an opening this year. HR was working on the posting and asked if we were allowing remote work or just hybrid for the role – it was clear they didn’t expect it to be a 100% on-site role. He said we’d consider hybrid and they put a hybrid applicant in the pool, and then he didn’t want to hire them because he preferred someone working on site. (They were one of two GREAT interviewees – we hired the other one.) That led HR to look into why no one in my division had a documented hybrid or remote work arrangement, which led to a serious Come to Jesus conversation with HR for our director, and long story short, we’re all working hybrid now. (He is good in other ways – our turnover has been zero in three years and the opening was due to expansion, he just has this one weird hangup.)

  253. Techie*

    We’re requiring a minimum number of days in office HOWEVER it is supposed to overlap with the people you actual work with. In office days are for collaboration, the rest of the time you decide whether you work better at home vs office.

    Meetings are more efficient! Shorter, less attendees, people actually paying attention. I’m in tech, and so many things can be solved more easily with 5min and a whiteboard that a bunch of people talking at each other over Zoom. Digital replacements don’t really seem to work – there’s something about the physical nature of it.

    People are getting along more! Especially between departments. Relationships were getting more contentious, people just didn’t connect the same way over big zoom meetings. Individual contributors and managers got to know each other better.

    Personally, I had less gendered interactions in office. Guys seem more willing to yell at young-ish women over zoom, less so when in an office where anyone can hear them.

    It turned out that the company is more productive when people come into the office part time. Individuals might be more productive, but the overall department or company wasn’t, because there’s generally a trade off. A few people left as a result…but honestly they weren’t pulling their weight as much as they claimed they were and we didn’t really miss them. The workload seems more evenly distributed now, so the top performers are finally getting some work/life balance.

  254. Lorraine*

    Management has both declined to require a certain number of days in office and flagged that we aren’t working well remotely. There’s a lot of: well – it would be better to work together in person (for legitimate business purposes, before anyone jumps on – not all things are better remotely), but we’re also going to cut offices to save on rent. A lot of the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing, or not thinking through consequences of budgetary decisions (at least in a way that has been explained outside the C-suite. For all I know, they’re okay with the huge increase in turnover.)

  255. Spaypets*

    We are a membership organization and last year had to be in the office when members were there for meetings, so every few weeks. Now we also have to be there every Tuesday, whether there is a membership meeting or not.

    In Before Times we could WFH twice a week, so this is still better than that, but I loved being at home all the time. I have a pretty hellish commute and am much more tired than I was.

  256. WFHBliss*

    We’re a regional non-profit with about 100 employees and had a form of WFH before COVID, but it in office was still very much a part of the culture. COVID came and we went fully remote as much as possible, though there are a handful of positions that cannot WFH and returned to the office as soon as it reopened (think receptionist, janitorial, etc.). Company-wide 100% remote was never mentioned, but a lot of folks who were hired during that time seemed surprised when return to office came up.

    For the organization as a whole, it started as expected in office on Thursdays. Then, after a second return to 100% remote, it became “you have to be here at least one day a week and talk to your manager if you want it to be a day other than Thursday”. There are also now departmental undertones. For example, one department is requiring 3 days a week. My boss said she couldn’t care less, so I’m only in the office on days that make sense (usually our monthly organization-wide meeting and if the office is tickling my fancy that day). Guess which one is experiencing massive turnover?

    I would say I sincerely doubt any of this is to force people out. The organization as a whole has demonstrated that they want to bring retention up and are doing regular pulse surveys to figure out how to do it. I think the one department just has some newer members of management that need to be brought back to earth a bit.

  257. Julie Martinez*

    My company went entirely remote during the pandemic, but executives always planned to bring us back into the office. They gradually increased the time we were expected in, until we lost a huge amount of talent during the great resignation. They finally gave up and left it up to each management team on how much in office time would be required, while making it clear that at least some in office time would be expected. Most groups came in once or twice a month, some more, some less. Recently some execs have decided to implement “in office Wednesdays”. This is optional but “highly encouraged” for tenured staff, and required for newer staff. Upper management seems to be in board, and those of us on the lower rungs are grumbling.

  258. Sarah*

    In Australia. We’re expected to be in the office 5 days as of February, never mind that one of our offices is still being renovated and won’t be ready by then. We’ve already had a couple of rounds of redundancies and I do think that the office mandate is to get rid of more staff without needing to pay out redundancies.

  259. Midwest manufacturing*

    I’m an engineer in manufacturing. After a series of all-company emails last year about returning to the office, the higher-ups seem to have given up, for now.

    Note that as a manufacturing company, 70% of our workforce has been in person the entire time, and maybe 20% (including me) have been hybrid because we have to support manufacturing.

    A small fraction of the workforce (finance, IT) are now permanently remote because we ran out of office space at my factory. There are a few hotel spots in case they ever want to come in.

    Corporate headquarters is still a ghost town, and I think a few people (execs) are sad about that. Otherwise, everyone seems pretty happy with the setup. Everyone just works from wherever it makes sense for their job. I am grateful to have a little more flexibility than pre-pandemic, and I hope that it stays.

    1. Midwest manufacturing*

      Addendum: the one downside is zoom meetings.

      Nothing puts me to sleep faster than four hours of large-group zoom meetings.

      I guess that’s the downside of the flexibility.

      (Side note: even if we wanted to switch our meetings to in-person, I don’t think it’d be possible to find conference rooms. My factory has grown a lot in the past few years, and the office spaces haven’t kept pace.)

  260. Madison*

    I work for a payroll company in the Bible Belt; my department (which is Operations; we work internally to serve clients, but don’t do actual programming) had to come back into office in Q3 of 2021; first on a hybrid schedule, then full-time. The company originally promised that people working on the Software Development side would continue working mostly remotely, with a requirement of coming into office 1 day a week.
    Well, last month the C-level announced that the Quality testing department would have to come back into office full time (starting next week!). They tried to make the software developers start on a hybrid schedule, but quickly abandoned that idea (I think they realized software developers are harder to replace than people in quality testing).
    The problem is that they didn’t give management a heads, so everyone was blind-sided by the news. They also claimed the change in work was due to performance dropping, but didn’t provide any evidence of this. Overall the whole thing was handled in a very callous manner, and people are Not Happy. Recruiting and Marketing are struggling over the negative reviews that are hitting job sites and social media.
    This is a company that is renting additional office space while a new building is being built, and claims to be tight on space. Apparently it’s better to spend more money on renting office space (and giving extra pay to people in that rented office space!) rather than letting people work from home.

  261. CuriousAussie*

    I’m in Australia and work in agribusiness. At our Northern sites, we had minimal lockdowns and no one ever really worked from home or wanted to.
    At our southern sites, every body had to for an extended period of time and a lot of people are very hesitant to go back (not over any safety concerns FYI), but our CEO is pushing for min 3 days a week given it used to be full time in the office.

    I have noticed significantly more hiring flexibility though e.g. roles being able to be based at either site, and happy to negotiate 3 days a week in office and flexible hours so I’d be surprised if they pushed for full time in the office.

    To be honest I really like this balance. I am personally a fan of working in an office so maybe I’m biased.

  262. Anon attorney*

    Attorney here. I was in BigLaw in March 2020 and we all went home immediately and stayed there for a year plus. It was possible to go into the office but you had to request permission from the HR director, because the firm wanted to protect the skeleton admin staff who remained in office from covid. Some partners ignored this and went into the office as normal to get away from their kids but nothing was done about this, surprisingly enough.

    I moved to a small boutique practice after that and we have been hybrid throughout, which basically means whatever you want it to mean as long as you get your work done. When Omicron hit in January 2022, my state recommended but didn’t mandate WFH. I have vulnerable family so I did mostly WFH but was in the minority. Most of our staff continued to work in office at least 4/5 and still do. Some people never WFH unless they actually have tested positive for COVID (and I fear not even then, especially as nobody is testing anymore). I am senior enough to do what I see fit – I think that if I stopped going to the office completely something would be said eventually but I am ok with hybrid. I feel I can manage my team more effectively and I also stay in the loop of office politics. I think it’s particularly important for experienced senior attorneys to have in person time with junior associates and summer interns. Juniors who graduated law school and and joined my previous firm during the shelter in place had a really tough gig. You learn a lot just from observing senior attorneys going about their day, and equally it’s easier to spot and fix problems with juniors (bad phone manner, soft skills issues, that kind of thing) when you’re working alongside each other in person.

    Most trials and other hearings are still online here and I have mixed feelings about that. I miss the collegiality of meeting other attorneys and I think the quality of advocacy and judging has really dropped for remote hearings. I worry about the junior associates who have never experienced court in person and are missing out on tacit knowledge and learning about the culture of litigation. However I also don’t miss driving two hours to an out of town court to handle something that takes two minutes in chambers over Zoom.

    I think that in my field hybrid is not going away because newer attorneys expect it and the shift to online court hearings and filings means you can practice from your home. For me the key is to have a proper business or practical justification for requiring attendance at the office or in court rather than some vague leadership edict that we should all be coming up with amazing trial strategies around the water cooler (spoiler – this never happens).

  263. It's Me*

    My company is based in a large high cost of living city with a high COVID rate (and flu rate… and RSV rate…) and has mandated a two-day return to work, no vaccines, no masks, no social distancing, no leniency for out-of-towners who moved in the pandemic to areas they can actually afford on our below-average salaries. These days are mandatory and inflexible—the same two days for everyone, no matter what. There has been lip service to granting remote work requests but I’ve yet to meet anyone who has had one approved for any reason. Management will give no data or justification for this change after almost three years of record profits other than “We believe we work better together.”

    I am looking for a new job.

  264. J Jonah Jameson*

    As of early October, all positions at my work were rated on a scale of full time in office, in office 3 specific days a week, in office 2 non-specific days a week, hybrid wfh or in office with any combination, and full remote. This followed 9 months of everyone being in the hybrid wfh category, and very few choosing to be in the office unless a specific task required it.

    My team ended up as in office 2 days a week, but with the days specified by our manager (who correctly recognized that for our group, everyone in the office 2 days of their choice had no value whatsoever). That said, it was not communicated why we are in this category, nor what benefit anyone (including the organization) gets from our return to office. HR has been careful to describe potential advantages as just that; it’s not that this happens because we are in the office, but rather that people in the office may experience this. I can’t speak for the office as a whole, but my team is neither seeing value from return to office nor happy to be back.

    The mask policy was changed at the same time from required when not at your desk to only be required in less ventilated meeting rooms.

  265. Little Miss Sunshine*

    I work in financial services and we have different in office requirements for different groups. Tech teams need to be in the office 10-12 days per quarter, which averages to 1 day per week. Operations and client facing teams have to be in 2-3 days per week. In person collaboration is the primary justification used by management, but there is also evidence that operational errors decrease when people are working together in person versus remote only. They are also consolidating the real estate footprint, reducing leased office size or eliminating offices completely. We have many offices that do not have enough capacity for all employees assigned to that office. Most employees view these policies with lots of side-eye. Lots of complaints about the unfairness of it all. I like having the option to work in the office, but not the requirement. Also, they have continued to adjust floor plans to use open office concepts, which means you can not do high-focus tasks on in-office days. We try to make the in office days fun and intentionally focused on relationship building so that people can still feel accomplished.

  266. laurel*

    My company launched a “workplace flexibility” program last year that had everyone working in office 50% of the time, but you could discuss how that looks for you with your manager and team. For most of us, we could arrange our remote versus in office depending on the workload and demands for each day and there was still flexibility for work life balance.

    Unfortunately, many teams and departments did not enforce this. There were several teams that just never came back at all and decided that because other teams in their department may be working in the office more frequently than 50%, they made the department net out to 50%.

    Although executives pulled badge swipes to know who and what teams exactly were not following the guidelines, they removed the flexibility part and made employees hired before pandemic hybrid with 3 mandatory days in office set by your department VP. There were many people hired during the pandemic that are not local, so they get to stay remote. And if you have a personal matter where you can’t come into the office on a particular mandatory day, you have to use PTO or sick time.

    I work for an airline, so travel benefits are part of the compensation package. This significantly impacts our work balance and the perks of the job. The morale has never been lower from loyal, long time employees and there will likely be an exodus of people that don’t feel supported. The executives making these decisions seem incredibly out of touch with what people actually want. Airlines get a lot of job applicants, but losing talent and knowledge is a priceless hit.

  267. Just let me decide*

    My tech company is starting in some locations to push more in office days. My local office was mostly remote for the last couple years, then recently one day a week in office, now they want 2 days a week. People I’ve talked to are not happy and don’t understand it. Leadership/HR even understands that people won’t be happy and that workers might leave over it! They know that the wifi is slower in the office, there aren’t enough hot desks for everybody, the environment is worse overall, it will impact engagement… In one breath they said we’re going to need to work harder this year because we didn’t meet our financial goals, and in the next they said we need to be more in person for “collaboration”. No one could answer my questions about how we will measure changes in “collaboration”. I asked if we could stay home temporarily if COVID cases increased and come back when they subsided and was told no, the government has to mandate we close (unlikely).

    I changed companies specifically because of remote work policy. This has really soured my impression of an otherwise great job. It’s not even purely about where I work–it shows that management doesn’t make decisions based on employee input, based on public health facts or common sense, based on measurable output of workers. It costs the company almost nothing and is a huge boon to workers’ quality of life. How can I feel invested in my work or the success of my company when management makes decisions that impact company success and screw over workers for seemingly no reason?

  268. SnowSnowSnow*

    I work for one of the major national banks. The PTB are trying incremental creep to get us back into the office – 50% of the time, now 3 out of 5 days. Much of executive leadership is desperate to get everyone back into the office for “collaboration” and “synergy” and “insert-favorite-buzzword-here.”

    Some jobs really do require an in-person, in-office presence. A lot do not. Mine and my teams does not. And a significant percentage of this team is approaching retirement age. They WILL retire if forced back into the office 100%. I think the threat of widespread retirement and a continuous stream of other leaving specifically to pursue other WFH jobs is what is dampening their drive to everyone in office.

    Their face-to face collaboration argument is weak at best. My team is spread across four time zones and at least 7 states. In-person collaboration isn’t going to happen unless they spring for pricey travel, spendy both in terms of time and money and actual production productivity.

    I bailed on doing any on-site work this week due to a massive snowfall over two/three days. The roads here suck and I see no reason to risk the trip when I can do my job from home. Ultimately, the only leverage they have over me is: continued employment with the company, and annual bonuses/raises. Legit levers for sure, but right now, not nearly as powerful as they think.

  269. Antigone*

    I work at a university that decided in early 2022 to stay remote for the full year and revisit in 2023. They then announced in November that they wanted everyone except those who applied for and received exceptions to be in the office three days a week beginning in January. Which isn’t nearly enough time for people to sort out childcare, and has led to resignations.

    My own department received an exemption to remain fully remote with the exception of managers, who must go in one day a week. I am a new manager, but also through good luck happened to time this sh that the week the change was announced was also the week I had a job offer for a fully remote job. I love my job and did not want to leave, and I have unique and highly valued expertise, as well as a medical condition that warrants being extra civid careful, so I was able to leverage this into an extra exception to stay remote despite being a manager, plus a 30% raise.

    So this has worked out great for me – but other departments are dropping like flies as their staff leave for fully remote jobs. A lot of people were hanging on in the hopes that our workplace, which had until now been very measured and reasonable about remote work and covid safety, would stay that way. Now they’re out the door

  270. RowanUK*

    I’m based in the UK, and I’ve been working remotely since 2008. We did have a hub office, but we left that during the pandemic, and now everyone in our small company works from home full-time (they hire a meeting room for a few hours for client meetings.).

    I read an article recently saying that the new standard office-based work week in the UK was Tues-Thurs (with Monday and Friday being the popular work-from-home days), so I think a lot of businesses have settled into hybrid working.

    But I do see the stress it puts on some people. One of my cousins works for an American bank in London, and they’re very focused on having people in the office – and have been whenever they legally could during the pandemic. Another cousin works for a local authority & is forced to go in one day a week. She doesn’t see the point of it other than to add stress to her week.

    Friends and family I speak to feel forced to go into the office when they don’t see a good reason to go in (despite the fact it was part of their routine pre-pandemic), and I can see some resentment building about it.

    1. RowanUK*

      Forgot to add – my industry is PR. My coworkers are totally fine about not having a hub office anymore – even the ones who used our old office a lot. I understand that some are missing out on face-to-face socialising, but they’ve been able to socialise more in their personal lives since everything opened up again, so they’re fine with things being fully remote now.

  271. AnAffairNotRemembered*

    This is what happened at our company (not US-based):

    Middle managers and leaders, who have big homes, childcare and excellent work from home set ups, said they were much more productive at home. Junior workers who wanted to learn from more senior people said they weren’t getting access to the leaders who were unavailable. The soft skills really suffered in the company. Sure, tasks got done, but they lost any osmosis learning and junior employees were miserable. Work became very task orientated and people weren’t building relationships.

    So C-suite said that everyone HAS to come 2 days a week, one day is your choice, the other is your managers. Different teams chose diferent days, we are about 30% capacity Mon and Thu, 20% Friday and 60% Tues and Wed. The other three days are flexible and people choose.

    We generally had flexibility pre-covid anyway and so this isn’t a huge departure but definitely more junior people taking it up.

    A few grumbles at first but not resignations. Now everyone is pretty content with the set-up and morale is up again.

  272. Ccc*

    My husband got a recruiter email today that said the company was remote first but wanted him on-site four weeks/quarter. The closest hub is more than a thousand miles away! Not sure how that requirement squares with “remote first.”

  273. Pizza Love*

    I work at a large global company that most people would recognize. There are a lot of business units, which have various approaches to remote work. I work in HR, so I’ll speak to that.

    We started a “soft” return to work for certain roles in our major office locations in mid-2022. However, the expectation was that people would still be remote-first and come in 1-2 days per week. We also have a large base of employees across the US who aren’t co-located with anyone they work with, so they were always going to be virtual. Suddenly in December, this all changed. It was announced that people in our headquarters city now have to come into the office a minimum of 3 times per week starting the first week of January 2023. And later on this month, roles in all locations will be reevaluated and may have to go to the office at least once per week.

    There is no real justification for the change and people are understandably upset. Our leaders claim it’s for “collaboration”, but that’s complete BS. Our headquarters building does not have the space for all these people, so you have to get in early to get a desk with monitors, a keyboard etc. Otherwise you get to work wherever there is room, like the cafeteria. We also have to pay for parking, and there isn’t enough of that either. Some people were able to get monthly garage passes, but now there’s a waitlist. The non-monthly parkers will end up paying much more to park. Also, many of the impacted workers are programmers and analysts who never have meetings with others. They sit in front of a screen all day…they don’t need to be in an office to do that. Finally, people in non-hub locations may not have any coworkers in their assigned office spaces, so where is the collaboration happening?

    It was handled very poorly and I expect to see a lot of attrition. I don’t think this was a reduction in force effort…my company is just very old school and can’t grasp that people can be productive at home. They’ll lose the good talent, me included. I’ve already been looking, and this is just causing me to ramp up my search. I don’t need to be in an office to do my job.

    1. Pizza Love*

      Oh I forgot the best part. Several of my coworkers were full time virtual workers before the pandemic. So apparently virtual work was OK then, but now it’s not? These people accepted roles with the understanding that they would not be required to be in the office. And now because of some executive wanting butts in seats, they lose that perk. Great leadership here.

  274. Dina*

    I work in a disability organisation, and we’re largely work-from-home at the moment because COVID could be devastating for some of our staff. I’m very grateful as a) I truly do work better from home and b) I live with someone who takes immunosuppressants for an autoimmune disease and I’d really rather not put her at risk.

  275. probably need a name*

    I got bait-and-switched on WFH at my last job. I was hired as a senior digital specialist, and was meant to be in the office one day a month, tops. But I ended up having to go in, 5 days a week, for almost four months, when my remote access was ‘accidentally’ revoked about a month in. This ‘problem’ left me commuting more than 4 hours a day, in the middle of transport strikes and sky-high inflation, to go into an office that was not adequately equipped for me to do my job, and where none of my team members worked.

    First I was told my access being revoked was a system error. Then I was told that it was HR’s error. Then I was told it was ‘confusion’ over the ‘new’ cybersecurity policy. None of these things were true. It turned out the senior manager got one of her friends in IT to revoke my access, which not only made no sense, it was also blatantly against policy.

    Then, the new senior manager finally said it was because I had never been promised WFH and that it was not an entitlement. Both of these statements are incorrect, as WFH is an entitlement under the org’s own policies, and have been since well before COVID-19, and the ability to WFH is a condition of my employment, and it says so in my employment contract.

    I absolutely loathed going into the office 5 days a week. The commute was extremely stressful, I didn’t have an adequate setup at the office to do my job, and it was a noisy open office, which added to the stress, because my work requires consistent deep focus and concentration. I also have a health condition that WFH makes incredibly easy to manage, but makes working in an office and commuting for hours a day an absolute nightmare. I was sick and exhausted the whole time, and I’m amazed that my work turned out as well as it did.

    The new senior manager did the same thing to basically every other digital specialist on the team, some of whom had been with the org for 15-20 years. It did not end well. Three-quarters of them have now left, and the only ones that haven’t live within 20 minutes of the office they report to, but they are also the least experienced team members who needed the rest of us to train them up. Every single project has now ground to a halt.

    TL;DR: my old job has now lost three-quarters of its essential, very-hard-to-replace specialist staff (including me) because of a new senior manager’s befuddling, nonsensical, and very sudden insistence that WFH is only available to those who “prove” themselves. None of the work that is desperately needed can be completed because we’ve all left and they cannot replace us.

  276. Can*

    My company hired a whole bunch of digital specialists as permanent remote workers in 2020, 2021 and 2022. These people are in really short supply, so should be treated really well so we make sure we keep them.

    Recently, our new Executive Director demanded they all come back into the office. Full time. With no warning. He didn’t care that their remote work was enshrined in writing, meaning that it was required. He also didn’t care that every single one of them would have to commute for something like one and a half to hours each way. He wanted butts in seats, although he never explained why, and we do not have enough office space to go around.

    After negotiations failed, every single one of them resigned. Some of them resigned over health concerns, but also over work/life balance, and concerns that their work quality was suffering.

    We have not been able to replace them, and we do not have the expertise to deliver work that is due to be delivered at the end of the month. And all over anti-WFH sentiment.

    I have another job, which is fully remote, and I will be resigning next week. People have rearranged their lives during the pandemic, and work has stopped being the priority that everything else has to fit in around. We work because we have to.

    I felt so much anger and resentment at being forced back into the office, and full time! The commute and the environment at the office are both really stressful and uncomfortable. It leaves me permanently exhausted, and with no energy to do anything other than work. My health and well-being suffer, as do my relationships. I will never work in an office ever again, especially not full time.

    Employers who force people into an office or workplace, when those jobs can be done from home even in part, do not care about anything other than control and power. They see workers as disposable, replaceable, exploitable, and untrustworthy.

    To people who prefer to, or like to, work in the office, I’m very happy that you have found a way of working that works for you. It does not work for me, and I don’t see why I should be expected to sacrifice my health and well-being to maintain a status quo that only works for a minority.

  277. Alice*

    One tangible change at my workplace is that my employer (which self-insures for health care) has changed the process for getting free rapid tests from our health insurance, making it a bigger hassle. It’s a small thing but it also crystalizes a lot of my concerns that leadership No Longer Cares about COVID safety.

  278. Diana*

    We’ve had a wave of resignations of essential personnel who we cannot replace. The resignations have occurred because upper management is forcing people back into the office needlessly, and 4-5 days a week.

    The saddest resignation was from someone we spent months trying to find as she has unusual, highly-valued expertise. Jane was hired on the understanding she’d be working from home from interstate, and traveling to head office once a quarter for team days. She lives about 2.5 hours away from the nearest office, but traveled to the head office for her first 2 weeks, and stayed nearby. She was great at her job, and everyone really liked her.

    Then the ED of Jane’s division started saying to all of us that Jane needed to be in the office nearest to her home for the first few months so we could be sure that she could deliver the work. This was inappropriate gossip, but also just weird. Jane had already turned around excellent quality work in basically impossible timeframes. And the only people in that office were not Jane’s direct team mates, and she didn’t even have a desk there!

    The ED also let slip that Jane has a health condition which means WFH improves both her work and her quality of life. I was hoping that would be the end of it.

    But next thing we hear, the ED says she’s Jane she has to go into the office 5 days a week for 3 months. They expect her to travel 5 hours a day to do this, and while carrying an unrealistically heavy workload, and with her health condition. The ED was furious when Jane resigned.

    The pandemic showed people how life could be better, and how little most employers care about our safety, lives, or wellbeing. Smart employers will ensure flexibility is front-and-center if they want to attract and retain staff, especially for hard-to-find skills, and for geographically dispersed teams. Remote work costs companies literally nothing, and it has huge benefits for the people who do the actual work. Why do they want people in the office for anyway?

  279. Sally*

    I was forced back into the office, 5 days a week, very suddenly, despite having been hired as a 100% remote worker, because of a supposed computer shortage when my work laptop (with specific software I needed for my role) had to be replaced. It was meant to only be for a fortnight at most, but dragged on for months, not because of a real equipment shortage, but because of a newly-promoted executive’s stealth return-to-office-full-time campaign.

    I was having to commute 4-5 hours each day because of strikes, severe weather, cost of living issues, and so on. I was exhausted. I also didn’t work well in the office, which was on the opposite side of the country to (and two hours ahead of) the rest of my team, had a shortage of desks and space, and was an open office, that was extremely noisy. I was exhausted all the time, and so resentful that my hard-won work/life balance has been destroyed in the name of office politics. My health suffered.

    I was hired as a senior specialist, not a junior grad whose job has to be office-based. I work best from home. My job can be done from home. I was hired to work from home.

    When I executive started to bully me. Still carrying scars from a previous job where HR failed to protect me from a bully boss, and not wanting to go through that agony a second time, I just quit. I probably should have gone to HR, but I was just heartbroken.

    Parts of the company have been experiencing issues with attracting and retaining talent for a long time, mostly because of people exactly like this executive. Frankly, I can see why.

    1. Sally*

      Sorry, just reading this back again because I was getting upset writing it, that’s meant to read “When I pointed this out, my executive manager started to bully me”. Clearly, I needed my caffeine!

  280. Mad_Bear_Lady*

    My partner was the biggest supporter of WFH you’ve ever met… until he became a manager. Then he realised that motivating and monitoring a team remotely was really difficult, and a lot of people benefited both socially and in terms of productiveness when they came in, and often much more then they’d admit. Personally, I hate WFH. I completely get the benefits for people with young children or disabilities, but don’t think it’s good for a company as a whole when huge swathes of people are never physically in.

  281. AA*

    It hasn’t happened at my workplace yet but I can feel the wind blowing in that direction. It’s very annoying since I took this job partly because they were offering hybrid working with no set obligation (meaning I can go to the office if I want to but there’s no minimum amount that I need to) with no plans to change, after my previous job mandated 50% office time. Now there’s some rumbling about collaboration and the latest staff survey showing people talking about mental health issues that could be solved by going into the office more. I work in tech in the public sector.

  282. Future silver banker*

    In strategy consulting, UK, sub 100 people office. In the last year, the managing partner repeatedly stated that we should aim for 3 days per week at the office but each manager is to plan the logistics as per project needs. This was fine because we anyway had no space for all the people hired in the past 2 years as we doubled our size (but revenues didn’t follow….). Few months ago when we got a cost of living adjustment, our contracts were updated with a new clause specifying that our office address is the official place of work. They also created forms to specifically request “flexible” working arrangements. So far, all requests have been declined unless you have kids because the company wants to promote a parent-friendly image. However, they didn’t figure out an attendance monitoring system. Illustration: one senior PM works primarily from home as she has a kid but claims (on virtual calls) that she is in the office every day. she might show up once every 2 weeks to stay 2 hours and leave. The only people who know about her lie are the ones who are actually in the office every day, so mostly consultants. We now have two groups: the WFH who are staff and senior management, and the in-office people who are more junior so crammed in the open space with no heating (energy saving given gas prices) or partners who have their own lush closed office. Company said they would firm up processes for internal housekeeping come the new year. We have train and bus strikes this week so the office is not full. We will see whether the office fills up next week.

  283. Mongrel*

    I’ve it mentioned before but…

    When our London office was re-opened, after a couple of false starts, with only a voluntary requirement they only saw a maximum of 20 people a day turn up to our 300(ish) seat building.
    Since we’re a data driven company spread over three sites most of the collaboration was already electronic and given that there was a rapidly approaching break point in the building lease* they gave up the building and are now leasing a managed suite in a business hub that’s good for 30 people and only five minutes walk from the old office.

    *Honestly I think this is the important thing for a lot of businesses, having an unused building on the balance sheet isn’t a good look or cost effective.

  284. Forgot my name again*

    My SO’s tech company (international but based in UK) seems to be very happy at the moment with the hybrid set up. Before the pandemic most staff could work from home occasionally anyway, but now lots of staff have the option to be nearly fully WFH, or completely on-site.
    The company does recognise that some work is inevitably easier when done in person, so they’ve nominated a day each week where they say “if you can, come in this day, so that we’re all here at the same time” – but again, I understand that for WFH-ers it’s not expected that they’ll come in every week, just that when they do come in, it’s preferred (but not compulsory) that it’s that day.
    The general consensus seems to be that they trust their workers to do the work wherever it suits them best, and while I can’t say how the majority of the workers there feel, certainly in my partner’s case he’s a bit less stressed about juggling domestic needs and childcare with getting the work done on time now that he can be a lot more flexible about when and where he works – and his productivity has improved as a result.

  285. Yet Another Office Manager*

    As it happens, our COO lives over an hour from the office in *good* traffic, so she is a big fan of working remotely. We downsized the physical office footprint (my big project of FY22, July 2021-June 2022) and my colleagues did a stellar job of going through files armed with the document retention policy and dumping everything that was out of date into 65-gallon bins from a shredding company.

    Both as the office manager, a person with ADHD, and a parent, I find it far more productive to go to the office even though I hate driving. I love that it’s a choice.

  286. HHD*

    UK, Charity Sector. We’re not bringing folks back at all unless there’s a real need for them to work collaboratively with others in person (mostly comms/policy/fundraising teams). That means we’re downsizing our office portfolio substantially, and a lot of others in our sector are doing the same.

  287. Media Monkey*

    totally agree. we are in central london and are hybrid 3 days in office (mandatory tues and thurs, other day is flex) and wfh 2 days. during the lockdowns we found that junior staff and new starters really struggled to engage and learn – so much of what you learn is picked up by hearing how colleagues interact with each other/ other teams/ talk on the phone. i would agree that not having a good place to work in a shared flat (or fmaily home in some cases) is contributing to that.
    we do tell people to work from home if they have a full day of calls or need to concentrate but a lot of our work is collaborative. and of course in recent train strikes, there’s been no expectation for people to come in.
    personally i would prefer 2 days in the office – it would save me a lot of money as the flexible train season tickets appear to be based on 8 days a month. but here we are!

  288. Marie*

    I work for state government. They’ve found over the last three years that WFH has solved some perpetual problems for them (recruitment and retention of a more diverse workforce, modernization of IT and admin, watering down of a monolithic “agency culture”), so they’re never going to get rid of it entirely.

    That being said, some people really want to come back, but don’t because nobody is there, so why bother? And office areas need maintenance, old paperwork needs tossing, people have been promoted but haven’t set up their new offices, etc., which is an overwhelming task to confront, and nobody wants to confront it as the only person in the entire building.

    So in March they’ll start instituting voluntary days back, twice a month. Custodial and IT staff will be available those days to help with all the backlog of issues, and people who really want to see others know if they come in that day, people will be around. And people who are being very careful about COVID still know not to come in those days. They’re hoping this gets people feeling more comfortable coming in more regularly, so we can see what kind of hybrid culture shakes out when people settle in to the work structure they prefer.

  289. StephChi*

    I love this comment so much! And, to add to it, that Protestant work ethic came from the Puritans, who were Calvinists. They believed that if you were successful in life it was a sign that you were among the saved. How did you become successful? Through work. Therefore, the poor were the damned. The modern “prosperity gospel” is a descendent of this.

    BTW, I’m saying this as someone who doesn’t have the option of WFH, because I’m a high school teacher. I don’t, however, resent anyone who can WFH. If your job can be done remotely, why wouldn’t you be able to WFH if you wanted to? As long as you’re completing your work, why should anyone care where you are?

  290. Bagels*

    I’m the owner of the company. Our staff did a great job transitioning to fully remote. It had always been an option, we were already heavy Slack users, and everyone took to Zoom like champs. I fell in love with working from home. Fast forward and we have some people who straight up moved out of state, so are fully remote. And we do need some positions to be at the office more than other positions because of receiving deliveries, working on equipment, etc. And others just prefer the office. So we’re a hybrid and no one is required to be fully in office so long as duties get done. The problem for me is that I’d basically never go to the office, can get more done at home, don’t need to dress well, more efficient, all the things. But as the boss I feel like I have to go in at least most of three days a week, and that number should probably be 4. Which is to say, in an office I’m in charge of with a policy that’s very friendly to remote wherever feasible, I still feel pressure to go in. Because I don’t want to seem unengaged and inaccessible. And I really like the people I work with. And I’m an extrovert. It’s just such an odd situation.

  291. Just a Clarifier*

    Big tech employee here. Our leadership is bringing large parts of our orgs back into the office unless you’re already designated as full time remote and EVERYONE is angry about it. And I mean everyone. To the point that I know people leaving for more flexible workplaces. It has been an absolute cluster. I’ve been told from someone who has connections in the company that it is because the real estate is up for renewal and they have to justify the footprint to keep the buildings/build new ones for tax breaks in those states/countries.

    I’ve seen a lot of articles lately claiming that remote opportunities are declining, but interestingly I also saw a discussion on one of them saying that they pulled the numbers of remote jobs off of job boards and the numbers of remote listings were increasing. It seems like it’s some kind of propaganda that is being pushed to get people back in the office.

  292. Xer*

    Our Boomer overlords who cant deal being at home with their families and miss their Bro Office Culture are requiring people back in the office 2x a week with things like CORNHOLE TOURNAMENTS! THIRSTY THURSDAYS! TEAMWORK TUESDAYS! No one is coming in. There’s not enough desks in each office for anyone visiting for the day to work.

    I will never work in an office again. I work better from home, have more control of my life from home and don’t miss office culture with potlucks and birthdays and water cooler gossip. I’ve found that without a commute to and from work, my work life balance is much better and my sleep habits have improved.

    Gen Z whining ad nauseum about needing mentors in the office drives me up the wall because their entire life is tech and phone driven; don’t tell me you need me in person to tell you how to format this report when I can do it in a 3 minute zoom call. The generation that embraces BE YOURSELF wants to hold millennials and Gen X in the office for hand holding? No thanks.

  293. EggyParm*

    My company’s HQ is in a very high COL area in a major California city. During the pandemic, they began recruiting for fully remote roles and were shocked by how much talent existed outside of California for great rates. I was one of those people who joined remotely and would leave if I was asked to move to the giant California city simply because I couldn’t afford my same lifestyle there.

    Our CEO recently announced he’ll never make people return to the office full time and that we’re now at about 55% of the company being fully remote.

    I see this as a win-win for our company. Remote employees get the jobs they’re looking for and the company saves on salaries and associated costs.

  294. Liz*

    I work in an offshore locale (Caribbean) for a financial consulting firm (world-wide, we’re quite large, office here is 200-300? Not quite sure about the number on the other floors ) and Monday Jan 9 we’re going back to full time in the office. We spent the most of last year on a M-W-F in office schedule. I’ve always been an in-office type (why should I bear the costs of business via electricity, internet, real estate (my apt isn’t the biggest so I don’t have a good office setup – my job practically requires multiple monitors), NO FREE LUNCHES etc), but get why others like WFH and I would never mandate this (and am not in a position to order anyone either way). So personally, this change doesn’t affect me that much. My biggest bummer is that T-Th will be much less quiet in the office now! I’ll miss that. I do appreciate having my group around me, but for all I care, everyone else SHOULD wfh so I can have some peace and quiet!!

  295. Emma*

    My company has fully embraced remote work in nearly all departments. One of our offices is now completely closed after being downsized three times. People who had desks at the other office but didn’t go in regularly were asked to take their personal belongings home by the end of last month, presumably in anticipation of that office being downsized in the near future. It can’t completely close due to some of the functions that are performed there, but there is space for ~200 employees and I’d guess that no more than 10 people are there on any given day now. We recruit for almost all jobs nationwide (or close to it) now. I don’t foresee any changes anytime soon, and that’s just fine with me.

  296. Des*

    I used to love coming into the office pre-pandemic.

    However, now every time I’m in the office I’m expected to Socialize and attend Team Events. I can’t just work anymore because everything is seen as an opportunity to Be Together As A Team. Before pandemic I could eat my lunch alone and work through it, but now it’s always having to eat it with a team. I hate this. Basically, I just want my office to stop trying to make everything Exciting! and let me just work in peace. I used to want to socialize with my coworkers pre-pandemic but now I dread it and the only thing that’s changed is the forcefulness of it, whereas previously our socialization flowed from naturally being in the same place. Also they don’t pay me enough to waste time commuting.

  297. Corporate Goth*

    We’ve been back full-time since July of 2021, with a few exceptions like HR. As of last month, we’re in discussions on whether to pull those folks back more than one day a week, because HR’s increasingly non-responsive. The threat of returning does seem to be effective in getting faster responses. Most of our work has security requirements that mean we really do need to be in-office, so before that it was part time shifts with spacing and masks. We never quite figured out telework for the same reasons, so we lost people to sheer boredom. We were given plenty of warning about the return, and there continues to be flexibility with scheduling for those who have family or personal situations. We had mandatory masking for a while, which has been over for at least six months at this point. Now it’s wear a mask a) if you want to or b) if you have been exposed or aren’t feeling well (and also please go home). It took about three months for most of the complaints to diminish. Interestingly, we aren’t back to normal operations still; those of us who’ve been around for a while are only now realizing that those hired during the dark times never knew what normal was, so we’re reinvigorating training to get people up to speed. Our junior folks seem relieved about the idea since they were flailing and also afraid to tell anyone. It’s honestly abnormal for me to realize people are still teleworking.

  298. Kayem*

    My employer has actually done the opposite! They had previously transitioned half the workforce to remote in my division. Then the pandemic hit and we all went remote. There have been transitions back to the office here and there, like meetings for clients who insist on meeting in person. However, the higher ups discovered that they saved a lot of money during the pandemic when everything was remote, plus productivity improved significantly among the employees at my level. I just heard that the facility in one location has been shut down entirely with all employees going remote and the one I used to work at before becoming remote has been decommissioned and the remaining in-office staff moved to a much smaller facility.

    There are some perks I miss, like the free catered lunches, on-site gym, and not having to buy my own office supplies. However, wages have gone up across the board and they’ve been able to hire additional personnel so we aren’t as short staffed as we used to be.

    Friend of mine has the opposite problem. He’s a database programmer and all of his work can be done entirely remotely, but his employer has made all the programmers come back into the office. This despite having a flu season higher than the pre-pandemic average and one careless manager infecting everyone in the office with COVID, which caused the entire department to have to take medical leave all at once.

  299. Ann E Mouse*

    I work in tech, specifically a software-as-a-servoce product company.

    We are not being asked to come back to the office. There is nothing special about our industry that needs regular in-person communication or physical doing. We are not working in a warehouse handling physical items. We don’t have a client or customer facing aspect where people pop into our offices. Our customer-facing aspects have always been remote because just as our employees are distributed, so are our customers.

    So-called water cooler or hallway conversations still happen; they just happen over Slack in channels or DMs. Employees are productive because they can work their own schedules around specific regular times – stand-ups (daily status updates) are always at the same time, as are other weekly or bi-weekly meetings. Releases are cut and deployed at the same time every day/week. We have the luxury of treating our employees like adults to manage their in own schedules and workloads with the expectation that they show up to meetings and deliver work according to deadlines, and communicate frequently.

    Its very weird that tech employers claim that they can’t operate effectively remotely when the based of the industry itself revolves around the fact that you don’t have to be physically in a specific location to use or build the software. That’s why it’s software, not hardware.

    Most tech jobs that are requiring people to come back to the office are doing so not because of the work itself, but because they’ve spent millions and billions on campuses in specific locations and have contractual obligations to municipalities and states to provide employment locally as a condition of building a fancy new campus in the first place. So they’re on the hook for not just hiring locally vs distributed remotely to say “as a local employer, we will be boosting the local economy by hiring local and paying decent wages” but need a ROI of getting actual use from the real estate they purchased/built.

  300. Nameless*

    I mean, that’s great for people who can make it a choice. There are a lot of disabled, chronically ill, and otherwise vulnerable people (and family members thereof) who would be locked out of these positions because they don’t have the option of just hopping on down to the virus farm because it has good benefits. And not all of them are covered under disability regulations – for instance, I don’t think there’s any kind of disability law that covers being a non-vulnerable member of a vulnerable person’s household.

    1. Nameless*

      Inexplicable nesting fail. This comment was supposed to be in reply to Carlene’s statements about how it’s totally fine if people who prefer to work from home leave offices with on-site requirements, because it looked like the entire population of people who can’t safely make this a personal choice was being overlooked.

  301. Moose*

    After a few failed company-wide return-to-office attempts over the last year and a half (delayed because of new covid variant waves, etc.), leadership quietly disseminated “be in the office at least once a week” requirements through managers at the end of last summer. Rules haven’t changed since then, though, and the office still felt really empty whenever I went in.

    But I live in NY, and on my first day back in 2023, the trains were SO much more crowded all of a sudden. Like fighting-to-squeeze-into-the-6-train crowded, after being able to get a seat without issue for all of 2022. I figured this must mean that a lot of people were going back in-office for 2023. Of course more crowded public transportation = more germs being spread, so I can only imagine how quickly this is going to do downhill in flu/covid season…

  302. Problem!*

    My employer has not officially announced that they are requiring everyone to come back full time, because I think they know it would be received with a slew of resignation letters.

    So what they’ve done instead is throttled the speed of the VPN for remote workers so it’s so painful to get anything done that people end up coming in to the office for a faster connection speed to our network. Very sleazy, but so far effective.

  303. Desk hottie*

    I work for a mid-sized engineering company. In maybe September of 2021 (or thereabouts), we each had to submit a WFH agreement that required approval from your manager. Essentially, the policy was “WFH as much or as little as your role allows.” In practice, I haven’t heard of anyone being denied whatever WFH they requested. The only catch is that you need to be in the office at least 50% of the time to keep a permanent desk/office space. Otherwise you’ll get relegated to “hot-desking” in a cube farm for any days you’re on-site. Everyone loves the flexibility to WFH, but nobody likes hot-desking. If you’re only in the office once a month it’s not bad, but if you need to be in 1-2 days a week, it basically forces you to come in on a day you don’t need to just do you don’t lose your desk space.

  304. Skyline*

    IMHO, people are being forced back into offices when their jobs can be done remotely, and often more productively, because of a number of weak justifications, including the following:
    * commercial real estate landlords’ vested interests;
    * managers’ personal preference for in-office work;
    * managers’ lack of understanding of their teams’ actual jobs;
    * productivity paranoia;
    * managers being unable to manage;
    * C-suite preferences for the plebs to be in the office;
    * a lack of trust in workers;
    * a lack of respect for workers (especially the fact that they have lives outside work);
    * a desire for control;
    * micromanagement;
    * the mistaken assumption that people do not actually work from home;
    * wanting to maintain the old status quo (whether it made sense or not); and
    * the belief that office workers are a life support device for CBD-based businesses.

    I am a “knowledge worker”, and work as a digital specialist. Every workplace I know that has forced people back into the office has seen a wave of resignations, especially from critical people they cannot afford to lose. The workplaces that have set day or days that everyone comes in, and/or forced people back two or more days a week have seen the most resignations.

    People want, and need, flexibility. They are adults, not children, and are not the property of their employers.

    Remote and flexible work is also a relief for introverts, people with disabilities, people with actual lives and responsibilities outside work, people who want work/life balance, people with long commutes, and so on. It removes so many barriers to employment. And it’s removal – especially very suddenly, without discussion, and without reason – is horrific.

    The main responses I see from people being forced back into the office include:
    * anger;
    * resentment;
    * sadness;
    * irritation;
    * burnout;
    * fatigue and exhaustion;
    * a drop in productivity;
    * worsening physical and mental health;
    * insomnia and sleep problems;
    * acting their wage; and
    * resignation (mentally, emotionally, and/or from their jobs).

    Basically, if you would like to increase turnover, pointlessly force people back into the office!

    I speak from personal experience. I was hired earlier this year in a WFH digital knowledge worker role. I was also interstate from everyone else on the team, so the arrangement was that I would fly to HQ for the first week for induction, and then return to HQ once every 3-4 months for a couple of days. It was all in writing, and I was thrilled. The nearest office was a 2-hour-plus commute from my home, and I was relieved I wouldn’t have to commute.

    This was my dream job, I was working with a great team, and I had my WFH, which is really critical for me as I am neurodiverse (a so-called “invisible” disability), which makes working at the office, and commuting for long periods of time, an absolute misery for me.

    Long story short, because the role is very hard to fill, I was tricked into accepting the job, as a newly-promoted senior manager (let’s call her Gina) had just introduced a “you can’t work from home in the first six months” policy. Although she lied about what the issue was at first, and then tried to convince me that I had signed up for a full-time in-office job. This policy breached the over-arching company policies. My own direct manager was very supportive in trying to fix this for me, but her hands were tied by Gina’s antics.

    Although I really need the WFH “accommodation” to do my very best work without my health suffering, I don’t like to disclose my neurodiversity at work, especially during a probationary period, as I have not had good experiences with past managers and workplaces who knew this before my job was secure. (A recent manager tried to have me illegally fired because of it.)

    I could have contacted HR to attempt to have my WFH reinstated, but because Gina was already mentioning my “6-month probationary period” every time we either spoke or emailed, I knew that even if I had my WFH reinstated via the correct HR processes, Gina would take umbrage, breach policy to find out why, and do everything possible to both make my work as difficult as possible, and to get rid of me during my probationary period.

    So, I was commuting upwards of 4 hours a day to go into an open office where I could not concentrate and was cut off from my team and unable to even have a private conversation with them without reverting to using my personal cell phone. I had no support and was dumped with an enormous workload that I could not actually do in the office, as I did not have the correct setup. Gina’s level of micromanagement and interference was awful, and it left the entire team unable to do their jobs, especially when she forced the rest of them into the office as well, with 1 WFH day per fortnight.

    I was exhausted, burnout, and eventually, enraged. I did it for 4 and a half months, and then quit. I will NEVER work in an office again, especially not full-time.

    I was heartbroken, as yet again, I was left without a secure job and paycheck, all because of a poorly-chosen leader being allowed to get away with whatever they wanted.

    The rest of the team has now either quit, or transferred to another division.

    I didn’t have any faith left in meritocracy, managers, employers, or HR as it was, but this has been the final straw.

  305. Norda*

    The only “problems” I’ve encountered with working from home are that too many managers cannot manage remotely and fall into micromanagement,* and that an abusive boss was able to use remote work to shield herself from accountability for bullying. However, this second point is the fault of poor enforcement of policies and procedures, as it also happened when everyone was in the office in person: it was just easier with everyone WFH for her to be sneaky about it. This was not a problem in other divisions where other bosses tried to get away with the same thing, as the enforcement of policies and oversight is better.

    I love working remotely, and working from home. It is how I am most productive, and how I work best. It enables me to actually have a life, as well as a job (which is what I need to have in order to survive, as most of us do).

    I am fortunate that I have a relatively unusual and valuable skill set, and can work from anywhere. However, the office environment has never enabled me to thrive or be set up for success, as most of them are open office setups. As I have ADHD, this is unsurprising. Although I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 29, which meant I struggled for a long time without knowing why. As a woman with a disability, who very rarely collaborates as part of her work and needs the time, space, quiet and comfort to concentrate, remote and flexible work are absolutely essential.

    I actually hate working in the office, which was proven to me recently when our pro-office, anti-WFH grandboss forcibly brought the team back into the office 5 days a week. This went on for almost a month until HR put the kibosh on it. Our grandboss has no understanding of our jobs at all, and productivity ground to a complete halt when we were all in the office. Everyone was livid, and 3 critical team members quit on the spot over it, and unless they can be coaxed back, we are essentially stuffed, because we cannot complete these projects without them.

    Quite frankly, employers have a real hide, trying to drag us all back into cubicle farms 5 days a week, no matter what our jobs and circumstances are. Considering that none of the actual work could get done if only the managers and executives were the ones employed, they all need to build a collective bridge and get over it. This is all about control.

    * I find most managers useless in person as well, to be frank. I think a lot of them want us back in offices so they can justify their own existence.

Comments are closed.