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What's a Deal Breaker? Uncovering Employees' Top Return-to-Office Concerns

Employees and executives have differing viewpoints when it comes to returning to the office. This article explores the top deal breakers for employees and how executives can address them to create a workplace that works for everyone.

What's a Deal Breaker? Uncovering Employees' Top Return-to-Office Concerns

The Disconnect Between Employees and Executives

employees and executives in office meeting

The workplace offers an opportunity for people to come together and build community. However, employees and executives often have differing viewpoints when it comes to returning to the office. While executives are aware of their employees' new needs, they might not be moving very fast to address them.

In a recent survey of 1,000 employees and 250 executives in the US, we found that executives either overestimated or underestimated almost all of the return-to-office deal breakers] for employees. This disconnect can make or break employee retention and their overall [workplace experience.

Top Deal Breakers for Employees

1. Long or Costly Commutes

47% of employees cite a long or costly commute as a deal breaker, while only 36% of executives think this is a concern for their employees. With the rise of remote work during the pandemic, many employees have grown accustomed to the convenience and cost savings of working from home.

2. Chatty or Difficult Coworkers

37% of employees cite chatty coworkers as a deal breaker, but only 28% of executives think this is an issue. Open office layouts and a lack of quiet spaces can make it difficult for employees to focus and be productive.

employee frustrated with chatty coworker in office

3. Slow and Outdated Technology

36% of employees said slow or outdated technology was a deal breaker for returning to the office, up 8 percentage points from the previous year. Technology in the workplace is crucial for seamless communication, collaboration, and productivity. Without high-quality tech solutions, employees can become frustrated and disengaged.

Bridging the Gap

To create a cohesive work environment that meets the needs of both employees and executives, it's essential to:

  1. Conduct regular surveys: Send out quarterly or monthly surveys to collect data on how employees feel about returning to the office and their top deal breakers.

  2. Invest in modern technology: Upgrade outdated systems and implement new workplace technology to improve efficiency and employee satisfaction.

  3. Create quiet spaces: Designate areas for focused work and consider implementing an activity-based working model to provide employees with a variety of work environments.

modern office space with quiet areas and collaboration zones
  1. Address commuting concerns: Offer flexible scheduling, commuter benefits, or remote work options to help alleviate the burden of long or costly commutes.

The Takeaway

Addressing employees' top return-to-office deal breakers is an ongoing process that requires open communication, data-driven decision making, and a willingness to adapt. By closing the gap between employee and executive perspectives, organizations can create a more cohesive and engaging workplace that attracts and retains top talent.

employees and executives collaborating in modern office space

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