Return-to-Office Mandates: How to Lose Your Best Performers | MIT Sloan Management Review

Workforce Trends

Organizations continue to announce updates to their return-to-office (RTO) mandates, addressing various aspects such as 1) increasing the number of required in-office days (e.g., UPS’s corporate employees recently shifted from a 3-day to 5-day in-office schedule), 2) restricting specific days to work remotely (e.g., Deutsche Bank announced that workers are no longer able to work from home on Fridays and Mondays), 3) impact of RTO adherence on performance (e.g., US Bank informed its workers that their adherence to a 3-days in-office mandate will now be factored into their performance evaluation), and 4) impact of RTO on promotion opportunities and internal mobility (e.g., Dell informed workers that they can stay fully remote, but that fully remote workers will not be considered for promotions or be able to change roles unless they reclassify as “hybrid onsite.” I’ve shared other recent examples of RTO mandates, many of which cite productivity as the reason behind mandates despite growing research that mandates don’t improve financial performance. This new MIT Sloan article addresses why too many organizational cultures use face time at the office as their metric for productivity. It makes the case for focusing on outcomes while providing trust and flexibility about where and when to get work done, allowing individuals and organizations to thrive. With this as the backdrop, I am resharing a recent study by Cisco, where the company used a data-driven approach to understand how the company could provide flexible work arrangements while ensuring accountability and productivity.