Company Executives Secretly Hope ‘Return To Office’ Mandates Will Force Staff Out

karen roach /
karen roach /

A recent study conducted by software company BambooHR has unveiled some unsettling insights into the motives behind return to office (RTO) mandates at certain organizations, suggesting that these policies may be a covert strategy for reducing staff numbers.

According to The Register, the survey gathered opinions from over 1,500 employees, including a significant portion from HR departments, revealing a critical view of the RTO initiatives. A striking finding from the research is that 25 percent of executives and 20 percent of HR professionals admitted they anticipated RTO mandates would encourage employees to resign voluntarily.

This revelation supports suspicions that have been circulating for some time. The study further noted that although RTO mandates did lead to a wave of resignations at several large companies, the number of employees who left was not as high as management had hoped. Consequently, 37 percent of leadership respondents reported that their companies had proceeded with layoffs in the past year due to the lower-than-expected number of voluntary departures triggered by RTO policies.

The implications of these findings point to a shift in office dynamics, creating an environment marked by performance, mistrust, and division, which has intensified since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The need for employees to constantly prove their productivity has become paramount, with over a third of the workforce feeling pressured to be visibly active and social in the office. This compulsion to display busyness could be counterproductive, as suggested by Anita Grantham, BambooHR’s head of HR.

Moreover, the study highlights that both remote and in-office employees spend approximately two hours each day on non-work activities. Office workers often engage in these activities to maintain an illusion of busyness, while remote workers tend to overcompensate for their physical absence by being excessively available online, a phenomenon described as the “green status effect.”

Grantham argues that the distrustful and performative culture fostered by some companies could be detrimental to their growth. She advocates for RTO policies that are flexible and tailored to the needs of individual employees. The ongoing discussion about workplace arrangements is essential for companies to navigate and refine, moving beyond the basic concept of RTO.