Many workers really aren't enjoying the return to the office

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As the pandemic begins to recede, workers are returning to offices around the world – but don't seem particularly happy about it. 

According to a global survey (opens in new tab) by Slack, as part of its Future Forum event, workers are less than pleased to be back commuting to the office. 

Around 34% of "knowledge workers" – ie, those who predominantly work on a computer – have returned to the office, says Slack, and employee experience scores are plummeting. 

A lack of flexibility 

Those surveyed reported a 2x decline in work-life balance, compared to remote or hybrid working, and a 1.5x decline in overall satisfaction with their work environment. 

Interestingly, non-executives are nearly 2x as likely to be working in the office five days per week than executives, suggesting those at the top are not heeding their own rules. 

The crux of the issues for such workers is the lack of flexibility that having to go into the office provides – you can't spontaneously walk your dog, look after your kid, sit in the garden, and so on if you aren't at home.

Around 65% of those surveyed said there was no flexibility to adjust their work hours, leading to a drop in their experiences scores and a higher likelihood of looking for a new job in the future.

The new new normal? 

While the pandemic was devastating for so many reasons, the enforced shift towards remote working – at least for those who could – was a big, big win for workers. 

Commutes were obliterated, freeing up mornings and evenings for other activities, and home offices improved dramatically. It was, in many ways, a good time. 

But bosses, eager to use their expensive office space and have more oversight over employees, are increasingly insisting on a return to offices across the world. 

As the Slack survey shows, this isn't always news that employees love and the long-term effects, like moving between jobs, will be interesting to observe over the coming years. 

Max Slater-Robins has been writing about technology for nearly a decade at various outlets, covering the rise of the technology giants, trends in enterprise and SaaS companies, and much more besides. Originally from Suffolk, he currently lives in London and likes a good night out and walks in the countryside.