Workers return to the office, but where's the boss?

As more and more employees return to the office, they find their boss isn't there.
According to a recent report by Future Forum, a consortium formed by Slack with founding partners Boston Consulting Group, MillerKnoll, and Management Leadership for Tomorrow, non-executives are nearly twice as likely to work in the office five days a week as executives ( MLT) to help organizations navigate the digital-first workplace.
The results come as many company executives are urging their employees to return to the office, while many workers are looking for greater flexibility.
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"If these numbers are accurate, I think that's a disappointing trend," Lindsey Pollak, workplace expert and author of "Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work," told Yahoo Money. "Many leaders say they want employees to build a culture in the office, and leaders need to remember that they are a critical part of that culture."
The report is based on a survey of more than 10,000 knowledge workers in the US, Australia, France, Germany, Japan and the UK. Knowledge workers were defined as full-time employees (30 or more hours per week) and either having one of the following roles listed below or saying they "work with data, analyze information, or think creatively", "executive or senior management, Manager, officer or a qualified executive such as an analyst or graphic designer.
According to a recent report, non-executive employees are nearly twice as likely as executives to be in the office five days a week. (Photo: Getty Creative)
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While the survey didn't address why executives aren't returning to the office at the same rate as regular employees, several workplace experts offered their theories.
"Executives are more likely to have the opportunity to work remotely as employees because they are older and their work requires fewer face-to-face interactions," Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Workplace Intelligence, told Yahoo Money.
Pollack had a less generous explanation.
"The most likely answer is that they feel like they can play by different rules than their staff," Pollak said. "This feels like a recipe for disgruntled employees, which is one of the reasons we're in the middle of a 'major layoff.'"
In fact, back-to-the-office measures are taking a toll on workers, according to the survey. According to the survey, more than a third (34%) of workers returning to full-time office work said work-related stress and anxiety are at their worst levels since 2020.
"The data shows that inflexible 'return-to-office' policies are to blame, contributing to poorer work-life balance and a dramatic increase in work-related stress and anxiety for these employees," said Brian Elliott, executive leader of the Future Forum, versus Yahoo Money. "People have proven over the last two years that they can be just as productive outside of the office."
According to the latest US Department of Labor report, 4.5 million people quit their jobs in March, up from 4.35 million people, or 2.9% of workers, in February. (Image credit: Getty Creative)
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More than 9 in 10 knowledge workers (94%) said they would like time flexibility (compared to 79% who would like location flexibility)—yet nearly two-thirds (65%) say they personally have little to have no opportunity to adjust their work hours outside of the occasional doctor's appointment, the report found.
Additionally, those who are unhappy with their flexibility—both in terms of where they work and when they work hours—are three times more likely to look for a new job in the year ahead.
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