Over half of professionals would start new job search if they had to work more days in-office

Over half of professionals would start new job search if they had to work more days in-office

  • 53% of professionals would start looking for a new job if they were asked to work in the office more
  • 46% of professionals state associated costs as a key deterrent from spending more days in the office
  • Over two-fifths of professionals think decisions regarding hybrid & flexible working arrangements is the number one issue influencing workplaces in 2024
  • 36% state that working more days in the office helps with their weekly routine
  • Almost three-quarters of company leaders state that they wouldn’t issue a full return-to-office this year

53% of UK professionals would start looking for a new job if they were told by their employer that they’d have to work more days in the office.

With over two-fifths (46%) stating costs associated with returning to the office as a key deterrent.

The findings are from a recent poll of 2,000 UK professionals conducted by specialist international recruitment company Robert Walters.

This comes as a recent survey by KPMG found that 63% of UK CEOs predict a full return-to-office by 2026.

Despite this – according to the Robert Walters 2024 salary survey, hybrid-working remains in the top three most desired benefits across every professional field.

Chris Eldridge, CEO of Robert Walters UK, comments:

“The pandemic not only opened the door to hybrid-working but made it a mainstay in many companies. It also proved that there just isn’t a one-size-fits-all option when it comes to  ways of working and keeping productivity levels up across a workforce.

“Leaders attempting to jump the gun and implement a full return-to-office are quickly going to run into trouble – as it’s clear that many professionals won’t readily give up the flexible working routines that they’ve spent the last 3-4 years getting comfortable with.”

“Our research shows that gone are the days where employers competed for talent on salary alone – so having a clearly defined hybrid working model will be a key ‘benefit’ to leverage for candidate attraction and retention this year, particularly where hiring budgets remain stringent.”

Primary issue in the 2024 workplace

45% of professionals stated that ‘changes to hybrid-working’ will have the biggest impact on workplaces this year – before changes to rewards & benefits schemes (20%), advancements in generative AI (19%) and effective leadership (16%).

Chris comments: “Whilst our research indicates that professionals are anticipating changes to the way we work this year, hybrid-working isn’t something employers can just take away without offering some incentive or compromise.”

Office deterrents

The main reasons for professionals not wanting to spend more days in office were associated costs (46%), disruption to their work-life balance (28%), long commutes (16%) and too many distractions at work (10%).

Chris comments: “With inflation still high and ongoing concerns over the cost of living, spending money on the commute to work, buying lunch amongst other expenses presents yet another key obstacle for professionals returning to the office.”

Office attractions

However, when it comes to what is drawing professionals back to the office – over a third (36%) stated more days in the office helped with their weekly routine. Other advantages were brainstorming with colleagues (26%), in-person meetings (24%) and more facetime with senior figures (14%).

Chris comments: “The benefits of working in the office are clear – just by being a more familiar face around the office, on-hand to help or engage with your colleagues on projects and being recognisable to senior leadership can hold you in good stead for half-year promotions.

“There are a host of other benefits such as exposure to new skills, gaining mentorship from senior colleagues and generally feeling more connected to the workplace culture and community.”

Full RTO not expected – yet

That is not to say that a full return-to-office across professional services is on the cards for the next 12 months. The Robert Walters poll also found that 73% of company leaders said they wouldn’t issue a full return-to-office this year, even if it didn’t impact retention.

Chris comments: “There is definitely a balance to strike with flexible working. If more days in office are what companies want – the onus is on senior leadership teams to make the office the heart of their work community and inform professionals of what can be gained by returning.”

Chris Eldridge shares his top three ways to get employees back into the office:

  1. Assisting with employee spend – things like subsidising travel, providing breakfast or lunch packages are relatively low-cost incentives that make a huge difference to professionals’ daily costs and budget.
  2. Upscale mentorship/training opportunities – having a mentorship programme or additional training opportunities in the office provides a significant draw for professionals looking to upskill.
  3. Organise brainstorming sessions or interactive Q&As with senior figures – having a more open, collaborative and communicative culture can be a big draw for professionals returning to the office – as it is something many will want to get involved with.




For Media enquires: 

Lauren Parsons
PR Assistant   

T: +441212602551


About Robert Walters: With more than 4,300 people in 31 countries, Robert Walters Group deliver recruitment consultancy, staffing, recruitment process outsourcing and managed services across the globe. From traditional recruitment and staffing to end-to-end talent management, our consultants are experts at matching highly skilled people to permanent, contract and interim roles across all professional disciplines, including; Accounting & Finance, Banking & Financial Services, Engineering, Human Resources, Information Technology, Legal, Sales & Marketing, Secretarial & Support, Supply Chain & Procurement.