A large majority of bosses wish they could turn back time when it comes to return-to-office plans. A new survey has found that 80 percent of company leaders polled in the U.S. said they regretted their initial return-to-office plans and would have done things differently if they had better understood what their employees wanted. The poll, taken by the software company Envoy and partner Hanover Research, asked more than 1,100 senior executives and workplace managers across the country a range of questions about workplace data and its role in making decisions about office strategies earlier this summer. In addition to regretting earlier RTO plans, respondents also reported frustration with how time-consuming the work of gathering and verifying data can be. “Many companies are realizing they could have been a lot more measured in their approach, rather than making big, bold, very controversial decisions based on executives’ opinions rather than employee data,” said Larry Gadea, Envoy’s CEO, and founder.
There have been numerous stops and starts in putting return-to-office plans into place for many companies. At the beginning of this year, it seemed like a turning point in the return to the office after a number of major companies began instituting more serious mandates on in-person work and clamping down on remote work. Big tech companies like Meta and Google rolled out stricter guidelines around remote work and required more days in the office this year, and firms, including BlackRock, Disney, and Chipotle, are requiring workers to be in the office four days a week. Despite the bigger push by a lot of office occupiers to bring employees back, office occupancy numbers haven’t changed much over the past several months, with averages continuing to hover around 50 percent. The stagnant occupancy numbers could be due to economic worries, as CBRE executives recently discussed. They expect that once the economy is back on solid ground, the office market will experience a rebound and, hopefully, rising office occupancy numbers.