Korn Ferry Survey Finds Professionals Believe Returning to Office Will Be Difficult, Strange

More than Half Say the Thought of Returning is Stressful

Los Angeles – May 6, 2021 – It was just a little more than a year ago when the working world turned upside down, sending professionals to the kitchen table to get the job done instead of the office. Now, as there are signs that the pandemic is easing and returning to the office may be on the horizon, a new Korn Ferry survey finds that many say they’d rather stay put.

More than two-thirds (70 percent) of professionals say working remotely is the new normal and returning to an office routine will be “difficult” and “strange.”

More than half (55 percent) say the thought of going back to the office instead of working from home stresses them out, but the majority feel they may not have a choice. Fifty-eight percent say admitting to their boss that they would rather stay working remotely could hurt their career advancement chances.

Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of respondents say they have more energy and focus when they work from home instead of the office, and nearly half (49 percent) say they’d turn down a job offer if they were mandated to work from the office full time.

“It’s been a tough year on all of us, and it’s incumbent on managers to really listen to their employees and be flexible when considering a return to the office,” said Melissa Swift, Korn Ferry Global Leader, Workforce Transformation. “We’re finding that many employees feel they are more productive when they work from home, so considering a hybrid schedule of working remotely and in the office may be the most effective option.”

On a lighter note, the survey found that professionals are reticent to give up the comfortable clothes they have been wearing while working from home. Half (50 percent) say they plan to dress more casually when they return to the office.

About the survey: The Korn Ferry survey of 581 professionals took place in late April 2021.

Survey responses

Does the thought of going back to the office instead of working from home stress you out?

Yes                                          55 percent

No                                           45 percent

Would admitting to your boss that you would rather stay working remotely rather than go back to the office hurt your career advancement chances?

Yes                                          58 percent

No                                           42 percent

Does it feel like working remotely is the new “normal” and returning to an office routine will be difficult/strange?

Yes                                          70 percent

No                                           30 percent

Would you turn down a job offer if the company mandated that you work from the office full time?

Yes                                          49 percent

No                                           51 percent

In your opinion, which group is more excited about seeing a large percentage of staff returning to the office?

Company leaders                    85 percent

Non managers                        15 percent

Do you have more energy/focus working from home or from the office?

Home                                      74 percent

Office                                      26 percent

Will purchasing new work attire help you get you more excited about returning to the office?

Yes                                          35 percent

No                                           65 percent

Do you think you’ll dress differently than pre-pandemic when you return to the office?

Yes, more casually                 50 percent

Yes, more formally                 7 percent

No, the same                          43 percent

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with our clients to design optimal organization structures, roles, and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward and motivate their workforce while developing professionals as they navigate and advance their careers.

Media Contact:

Tracy Kurschner



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