New Study Reports that Forcing Remote Workers Back to the Office Hurts Productivity and Morale

19 Feb, 2024 Chriss Swaney

                               

Pittsburgh, PA (WorkersCompensation.com) -- A University of Pittsburgh professor says that companies are not improving performance by forcing employees to come back to the office.  He says in fact, that they are damaging performance. 

Business Professor Mark Ma says his research found evidence that return to office mandates reduce employee satisfaction but don’t increase the bottom line. 

Ma says additional evidence shows that companies would benefit from allowing high-performance employees to work from home, rather than depressing employees’ morale and shareholder value by bringing them back to the office. 

The Pitt professor also points out that the ability to work remotely offers a better work/life balance. Working away from the office can make you feel in control of your life and give you more time to plan both work and home tasks, according to Ma, an associate professor of business administration.. “This gives a sense of achievement and makes employees more productive,’’ the study reports. 

Ma found that remote and flexible schedules not only provide employees with job satisfaction, better health, and less stress, but they also benefit employers through decreased turnover and reduced absenteeism.  

Still, some job market experts question how much power employers actually hold in mandating returns to the office. However, during the recent pandemic, it became  commonplace to expect that a company would offer a hybrid, if not totally remote, option as a way to remain competitive for top applicants. 

Nearly all, or 95 percent of working professionals want some type of remote work, and 63 percent said remote work is the most important aspect of their job, even more than salary, a recent FlexJobs - Recruit Top Remote & Flexible Candidates report found.   

Generally speaking, remote workers report a much higher degree of job satisfaction than those who work in the central office space. “That morale boost leads to more employee engagement, which is a good way to keep experienced employees happy and motivated, ‘’ says Ma.  “It is expensive to hire and retrain new workers, ‘’ he adds. 

The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2025 an estimated 32.6 million Americans will be working remotely, which equates to about 22 percent of the workforce.


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    About The Author

    • Chriss Swaney

      Chriss Swaney is a freelance reporter who has written for Antique Trader Magazine, Reuters, The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, the Burlington Free Press, UPI, The Tribune-Review and the Daily Record.

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