Why your boss really wants you back in the office

Throughout the hazy, early days of the pandemic, workers around the world got comfortable with working from home. Many managed to work as effectively – and even more productively – without the constant interruptions that a traditional workplace brings, and without the fatigue of a commute.

Pushback on mandatory attendance days has since ignited on social media, been featured in the news, and according to UniSpace’s Global Workplace Insights report ‘Returning for Good’, has made life difficult for employers, too.

Some 42% of firms with mandated returns have experienced higher than normal employee attrition, and 29% are struggling to recruit. Despite all this, many bosses still want employees back in the office.

But, why? Here are some commonly-cited reasons…


Innovation depends on collaboration, so it’s not surprising that employers are keen on in-person meetings for team meetings, cross-team scrums and brainstorming sessions. This chimes with employee expectations to do collaborative work in the office, and to complete deep focus work at home individually.


From early interviews to developing within a role, relationship building is essential in almost every workplace. Recruiters say it is difficult to evaluate new recruits virtually, and once settled in a role, both employers and employees know that non-verbal cues of communication are often missing with remote working. A ‘cameras on’ policy does its best to address this for video calls, but a whole day of unconsciously absorbing messages is lost with remote working.


Happy, connected teams perform better, and happy teams encourage staff retention. In the ‘Returning for Good’ report, 38% of over 45s and 31% of 18-34 year-olds say they appreciate the opportunity to socialize within work, while 21% of 18-24 year-olds are keen on post-work socializing, compared to just 17% of over 45s.

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Informal learning

At every level, but perhaps most pertinently at the early-career stage, we learn from the people around us. What you pick up in the line for coffee or in the elevator can tell you more about an organization than its 100-page employee handbook.

Informal mentorships are also often missing in remote working, which have a well-worn natural function in an office setting. Worryingly for fully-remote workers, in the UniSpace research, 84% of employers indicated that chances of career progression will be limited for employees who are not in the office.

Real estate investments

Savvy businesses downsized real estate quickly in 2020, and many pivoted to hot desking in the interim. In 2021, 84% of employees said they planned to decrease the amount of office space they maintained, and we saw floors of high-spec office buildings up for lease to external parties.

However, 75% of businesses have increased their real estate portfolio in the last two years. As 48% of workers surveyed say having an assigned desk would entice them into the workplace more often, a return to assigned seating may be next on the increase.

Ready to make the leap into a new way of working?
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