Millions of workers say they will quit if forced to return to office full-time

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CHICAGO – As some parts of our lives return to normal, the traditional office job may not go back to the old way anytime soon. Workers across the country experienced an abrupt shift more than a year ago to working at home.

Now, we’re learning many people may refuse to go back to the office full-time.

Michelle Reisdorf at the staffing firm Robert Half says employees have “gotten very, very used to a remote work life.”

Reisdorf also says companies are having a really tough time finding good candidates for work, because with wifi and a laptop, you can work anywhere. Live in New Lenox? Work in New York. Or log on in La Grange for a job in L.A.

And after more than a year of working from home, many workers are quite comfortable.

A new study by Robert Half found one third of employees may quit if forced to return to the office full time and just under 50 percent would like a hybrid model of working.

Local accounting consultant John Ramirez discovered what many did this past year, and that’s that working from home works.

“If it’s been working for people, why should they have to go back to an office if they can do perfectly fine at home?” he said.

Ramirez adds he would prefer a hybrid schedule to slowly get back into the swing of going to the office.

“It’s going to be very difficult to bring everybody back to work. That’s not going to happen, period,” said Doctor Arup Varma, Distinguished University Research Professor at Loyola Quinlan School of Business.

Dr. Varma says some workers want to stay home due to COVID concerns. But also we like the flexibility, the ability to watch our kids, wear sweatpants, and just get the work done.

“We just had the overall mindset of a manager must watch and supervise every one. We’ve learned now that’s not necessary,” Dr. Varma said.

Workers also have realized it’s not necessary to sit in traffic or pay for parking. Michelle Reisdorf says that means some companies that really want prized employees to head in to the office might need to help pay for commuting costs.

“Who would have thought that a year ago, that you would have to pay an employee five days a week to come into the office?” Reisdorf said.

And while we’re shaking up the workplace, who says we have to work five days a week? Doesn’t four sound better?

“By and by, we may go to that because there is no reason to insist that I come in five days if I’m going to be more productive in four days,” Dr. Varma said.

One word we heard a lot during this story: flexibility. For employees, it’s realizing some jobs have changed. For employers, it may mean offering new benefits or work schedules. And for everyone, it’s knowing that the work place likely will keep changing, as the pandemic continues.

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