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Want people back in the office? You'll have to pay us more, say staff

Workers are struggling with higher bills and commuting costs, and they want their employers to step in and help.
Written by Owen Hughes, Senior Editor
Image: Westend61/GETTY

Workers say their employers should pay them more to work from the office as the price of energy, fuel and commuting soars.

According to new survey data from Citrix, 74% of employees believe their company should compensate them for rising fuel and utility costs, while 45% feel their salaries should be increased to accommodate this. 

The survey of 500 US office workers found that 92% of knowledge workers are concerned about rising commuting costs and are looking for their employers to step in and help. More than half (57%) of employees want to work from home more often to help them save on commuting costs. 

More than one in three employees would consider quitting their job if their employer didn't offer flexibility around how and where they worked, Citrix found: 38% of workers would leave their employer or start looking for a new job if it meant the freedom to work remotely, while 23% said they would switch jobs if a prospective employer offered a more favourable work arrangement than their current company.

Traci Palmer, VP of people and organisation capability at Citrix, said: "Employees have learned they can engage and be just as productive working from home, and as fuel prices continue to increase, they are questioning whether the benefits of being in the office outweigh the time and money associated with commuting."  

SEE: The future of work: How everything changed and what's coming next

Unfortunately for some workers, the great office return is already underway. Of the 500 employees surveyed by Citrix, 73% said they were back working in the office to some capacity, and 41% were doing so because return-to-work orders had been mandated by their employer.

More than a quarter of workers have had to fully surrender their remote-working privileges: 26% of respondents said they are in the office five days a week. This compares to 19% who are working from the office 3-4 days a week, and 17% who are going in just once or twice a week.

Of those workers who have not returned to the office full-time, or otherwise do not plan to do so, 53% said this is because they enjoyed the flexibility of working from home, while 51% said working remotely helped them balance work with their home life responsibilities and 39% said working remotely saved them time and money.

Employers that fall back into pre-pandemic work policies centred around the office risk staff attrition from disgruntled workers who have become accustomed to the flexibility of working from home.

Companies are already seeing employees quit in large volumes in a workforce shift that has been dubbed 'the Great Resignation'. This has been spurred by workers re-evaluating their personal and professional priorities after two years of pandemic living, as well as increased competition in high-value and specialist sectors such as tech.

According to Citrix, 18% of US office workers have quit at least one job in the past year, while 26% have not left a job, but are currently considering doing so.

While salary is the primary driver of workers' desire to switch employers (39%), 28% cited poor employee experience at their current employer, while 28% cited flexibility or lack thereof as a key motivator for them to quit.

SEE: Remote working or a promotion? Here's what tech workers would choose

The soaring price of energy and fuel are among the primary reasons that employees want more flexibility in how and where they work, but the same issue is also providing an incentive for some employees to go into the office: 24% of respondents said they would work from the office more often to avoid higher utility bills at home.

Regardless of where they choose to work, employees appear overwhelmingly in favour of overhauling the standing working week to give them more free time.

Nine in 10 (91%) US office workers said they would accept a four-day week if it was offered by their employers, and 45% said cutting the week to four days would be an effective means of enabling companies to retain their employees.

Yet workers aren't overly confident they'll see such a shake-up any time soon: 47% of respondents considered it unlikely their employer would introduce a four-day workweek in the near future.

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