39% of Employers Say They Will Fire Employees Who Refuse to Return to the Office

woman working from her living room

Employees in various internal surveys have frequently announced their desire to continue working remotely. Yet, business owners don’t feel the same way. A survey conducted by Digital.com revealed that 39% of small business owners said they would fire employees who refuse to return to the office. 

The pandemic impacted the way people perceive work. For employees’ remote work meant better work-life balance and less stress (in some cases). For employers, in the best scenario, it meant better productivity and results. However, not every business owner feels that remote work is the present or future.

Digital.com Survey: 4 in 10 Employees Will Fire Employees Who Won’t Return to The Office

Digital.com’s new survey revealed the disconnection between employers and employees when it comes to remote work. Of the 1500 employers they surveyed, 39% – or 4 in 10 – said they would fire those employees who refuse to return onsite. These are the main takeaways from the survey:

  • 30% of business owners said their employees worked remotely during the pandemic.
  • 36% of business owners said employees work under a hybrid model during the pandemic.
  • 10% of business owners said that once the pandemic is over, they plan to continue working remotely.
  • 37% of business owners said they plan to work in a hybrid office or under flexible arrangements once the pandemic is over.
  • 39% of business owners expect all employees to return to the office permanently.

That resistance from some business owners could hurt them in the future. According to Dennis Consorte, Digital’s small business expert:

COVID-19 lockdowns didn’t create the move towards a remote workforce — it just accelerated the inevitable. Companies that focus on physical location and hours worked will be behind the curve. They should focus instead on the value produced by their extended teams. Otherwise, their most valued employees may seek out remote opportunities elsewhere.

The future of work is uncertain for many businesses. The covid-19 situation is far from over, making the planification of work arrangements more difficult in the long term. At the moment, most businesses are still looking forward to working under hybrid models or enabling flexible arrangements. Those who refuse to let employees work could expect less engagement and higher turnover rates. 


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