Returning to the office seems to be stalling due to a lack of employee productivity. Even though many business owners have made an effort to persuade their employees to come back to work in an effort to prevent “quiet quitting,” late in January of 2023, office occupancy reached above 50.4%, declined to 45.6% by early February, and then slightly increased to 48.6%.

It wasn’t until August 2022, when official productivity figures showed a sharp and unexpected fall in the first and second quarters, that it was acknowledged as a problem. The following month, Gallup released research that raised concerns among business executives about the possibility that up to half of all Americans may be quiet quitters, creating a potential correlation between productivity and the return to the workplace.

Historically speaking, U.S. productivity increased in the second quarter of 2020 and remained high through 2021 as a result of workplace closures. Then, as soon as companies started demanding a return to work in early 2022, productivity declined noticeably in the year’s first and second quarters. Productivity never recovered to the levels seen when people with remote capabilities worked from home, but it did somewhat increase in Q3 and Q4, as firms absorbed the productivity loss brought on by the compulsion to return to the office.

Having choices helps employee productivity

Additional research conducted by the Integrated Benefits Institute found that employees who work remotely or in a hybrid environment reported being more satisfied (20.7%) and more engaged (50.8%). And, even more research from Owl Labs shows that the average office worker saves $432 per month by working from home as opposed to the $863 it costs to commute.

Obviously, this data suggests that productivity and general satisfaction is directly related to the work environment, specifically if the employee has the flexibility to work remotely.

Employers need to consider balancing remote and in-office options

Offering a flexible schedule, one that meets business needs as well as the needs of team members, will be essential to future productivity. Emphasizing employee socialization, collaboration, excellent professional development, and mentoring will help employees see the value of the office and reduce quiet quitting while boosting performance. Forcing employees back to the office will inevitably result in some quiet quitting and productivity loss.

If your organization is struggling with productivity and how to engage employees using a combination schedule comprised of remote and in-office hours, please contact us. Our team of human resources professionals at Quantum Strategies has helped many organizations build custom schedules that meet and exceed employee and business needs.