ORLANDO, Fla. — Employers responding to a survey about remote workers say they will fire employees if they don’t return to the office.
A new survey from Digital.com shows employers and employees are not on the same page when working from home.
Digital surveyed 1,500 small business owners.
Half of employees said most workers worked on-site full-time, 18% had a hybrid schedule for in-person/remote working. Another 38% said they had a primarily remote workforce and, as such, were eliminated from the rest of the survey.
According to the survey, a large portion of employers wants employees back in the office. Thirty-nine percent said they expect everyone to return to the office, 20% will let employees choose, and 17% will make hybrid schedules permanent.
Only 10% are making the switch to full-time remote work a permanent fixture.
Thirty-nine percent of employers said if employees don’t come back to work on-site, they will fire them.
Employers willing to fire employees for not returning had a variety of reasons; 49% said the job requires employees to be in the office because they can only do them in person. They cite better interaction with clients, better collaboration, and social aspects improving versus working from home. They also believe employee productivity has dropped with the move to remote work.
Employers most willing to fire workers belong to the IT, finance and advertising industries.
But one expert is pushing back.
"It’s true that in-person, human interaction has tremendous value for certain types of teams ... but that’s old-school thinking. Remote work is just an extension of this existing trend, and companies that are stuck in an old mindset will be left behind," said Digital’s small business expert Dennis Consorte.
Consorte believes the pandemic didn’t bring about the shift to remote work since it sped up the inevitable. He also thinks the move will cause small businesses to lose out on valued employees who "may seek out remote opportunities elsewhere."
Another possible roadblock to employers bringing employees back into the office is COVID-19 vaccinations.
Some 55% of employers said they are mandating mask-wearing at work, while 52% will enforce social distancing. According to the survey, 42% want employees fully vaccinated, and 54% are requiring it for anyone choosing to return to the office full-time.
Digital surveyed on April 7 and 8 from a pool of 1,500 American small business owners.