Research: Employees Who Can Choose Between Onsite, Remote, or Hybrid Work Are 14x Less Likely to ‘Quit and Stay’

 Employees at work both in the office and working from home


New research from Great Place To Work shows how return-to-office mandates threaten retention, productivity, and engagement.

May 27, 2024, Oakland, Calif. — Flexibility is a key differentiator for employers, according to new research from Great Place To Work®, the global authority on workplace culture.

In a market survey of 4,400 U.S. employees, mandates were linked with higher turnover risk and higher rates of disengagement for employees. When employees were able to pick where they worked, they were:

  • 3x more likely to want to stay with their organization
  • 14x less likely to “quit and stay”
  • More likely to report giving extra effort on the job
  • More likely to have a good relationship with their manager
  • More likely to say they have a psychologically and emotionally health work environment

These findings have been published in a new report: “Return-to-Office Mandates and the Future of Work.”

Despite the data, 7 in 10 U.S. employees report that their employer mandates where they work.

Where you work matters less than who you work for

At typical U.S. workplaces, employees see benefits when working remotely:

  • 27% more likely to look forward to coming to work
  • 19% more likely to say their workplace is psychologically and emotionally healthy
  • Stronger relationships with managers

Perception Managers Mandates

However, workplaces with high levels of trust are doing even better. The data shows that any company can create a workplace that employees love, even if they don’t offer remote work.

At typical U.S. workplaces, 64% of employees without mandates report having a psychologically and emotionally healthy work environment, compared to just 51% of employees with mandates. High-trust workplaces outperform both with 83% of employees saying their workplace is healthy.

Remote work by industry

In different industries, remote and flexible work poses different risks and opportunities. Great Place To Work identified different needs and recommendations based on the responses from workers in specific industries:

  • Finance: Remote employees need help connecting with purpose and making their work meaningful. They are less likely than onsite employees to feel their manager cares about them.
  • Tech: Remote employees are more likely to report a healthy work-life balance, but need more communication about the future of the company and their role in getting there. Onsite employees are more likely to have meaningful relationships with management, but are more susceptible to burnout.
  • Health care: Remote employees are more likely to say their manager understands them, and that they feel valued as a full member of the team. Onsite employees need support to ensure they feel recognized for their work, and that management cares about their lives outside the workplace.
  • Manufacturing & production: Hybrid employees are more likely than onsite employees to report they have fun at work, receive special recognition, and have a voice in decisions that affect them.

Flexibility and workplace culture

Can you be a great workplace without offering employees a choice over where they work? Great Place To Work research shows that remote work options are just one of the ways employers can meet the needs of their people.

Not every employee wants to work remotely, and many jobs don’t accommodate remote or hybrid work options. The Best Workplaces™ can find creative ways to meet their needs of employees:

  1. Flexible scheduling
  2. Four-day workweek
  3. Generous PTO policies
  4. Predictable schedules for hourly workers
  5. Increased opportunities for part-time work

Companies struggle to improve mental health

While more employees at typical U.S. companies report a healthy work-life balance, fair pay, and other important experiences, psychological and emotional health hasn’t improved since 2021.

Great Place To Work compared responses in 2023 to market survey data from 2021 and found:

  • Employees reporting fair pay increased nine points
  • Employees reporting work-life balance increased 13 points
  • Employees reporting a psychologically and emotionally healthy workplace only improved two points.

The data shows that typical U.S. companies continue to struggle to support the mental well-being of employees, despite gains on other aspects of the employee experience.

Download the report.

About Great Place To Work

As the global authority on workplace culture, Great Place To Work brings 30 years of groundbreaking research and data to help every place become a great place to work for all. Its proprietary platform and For All™ Model help companies evaluate the experience of every employee, with exemplary workplaces becoming Great Place To Work Certified™ or receiving recognition on a coveted Best Workplaces List.

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