Majority of Professionals Say They’ll Never Go Back to Office Full-Time, According to Korn Ferry Survey

Respondents Split on What Returning to the Office Will do to Their Mental Health

Los Angles, Jan. 6, 2022 – As organizations navigate a world of work that continues to be in flux, a new Korn Ferry survey sheds light on professionals’ thoughts and intentions concerning returning to the office.

Nearly half (48%) of respondents say their companies are re-thinking return-to-office plans in light of the recent surge in COVID cases and the emergence of a new variant. One-fifth (20%) say they had returned to the office, only to be sent back to working remotely.

More than half (51%) of respondents say they don’t think they’ll ever go back to the office full-time. The same percentage (51%) say returning to the office will have a negative impact on their mental health.

“This pandemic is and will continue to be unpredictable in the extent of its impact, so employers will need to be agile when considering back-to-work protocols. The best advice is to communicate early and often with employees, and listen to their thoughts about safety and productivity,” said Elise Freedman, Korn Ferry Workforce Transformation Practice Leader.

While 64% say being able to socialize with co-workers in the office would make them happy, 22% said it would make them feel exhausted and 14% said the socializing would make them feel anxious.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents said they would return to the office now if mandated to do so, but 15% said they would refuse to go back in, even part-time, and 12% said they would quit.

“It’s been almost 2 years since the pandemic caused professionals to change course and work from home, and most have grown accustomed to the new way of getting the job done,” said Freedman. “One of the best ways to effectively bring back workers is to be flexible as to when and how people are comfortable returning.”

The survey also showed another long-term economic impact of employees working remotely, as 59% of respondents believe their employers will permanently reduce the amount of office space they have.

About the survey: 791 professionals responded to the survey in December 2021

Survey results

When do you think you’ll go back to the office full time?

January 2022                                                              8%

Mid-2022                                                                     19%

Already in the office full-time                                   22%

Never                                                                            51%

What would you do if your employer mandated a return to the office now, even part time?

Go into the office                                                        73%

Refuse to go into the office                                        15%

Quit                                                                             12%

What kind of impact will returning to the office have on your mental health?

A negative impact                                                       51%

A positive impact                                                        49%

What would best describe your emotions when you are once again able to socialize with co-workers in the office?

Happy                                                                         64%

Anxious                                                                       14%

Exhausted                                                                   22%

Do you think your employer will permanently decrease the amount of office space it has?

Yes                                                                              59%

No                                                                               41%

With the increase of COVID cases and the emergence of a new variant, has your company changed its return-to-the-office plans?

Yes                                                                              48%

No                                                                               51%

If you already returned to the office (even part time) are you now being asked to return to working remotely full time?

Yes                                                                              20%

No                                                                               48%

N/A not in office                                                        32%

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