The Margin: Half of all workers would rather take a pay cut than return to office, survey shows


Employees may soon be facing an important choice: return to the office full-time, or look for a new job.

According to the “People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View” report from ADP Research Institute, nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) say they have already, or would consider looking for a new job if their employer forced them to return to the office full-time.

Younger workers are the least interested in returning to work full-time.

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While many younger workers say they don’t want to return to full-time office work, some experts have argued that they are “losing out on a lot” by not growing their career in an office setting. Last year, JPMorgan Chase JPM, -1.14% CEO Jamie Dimon said working remotely “does not work” for young people or “those who want to hustle.”

Additionally, over half of all respondents (52%) in this survey said they would consider taking a pay cut — up to 11% — if it meant they could ensure “more flexibility or a hybrid approach to work location.

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The survey was conducted in November 2021 and sampled 32,924 workers in 17 countries including the U.S., India, Italy and China.

“The pandemic signaled a paradigm shift as today’s workers re-evaluate the presence of work in their lives, and the stakes have never been higher for employers,” Nela Richardson, chief economist at ADP wrote in the report. “Our research highlights the extent to which employees’ views of work changed, now prioritizing a wider and deeper range of factors that are more personal in nature. With recruitment and retention among the most business-critical issues, these revelations offer both a challenge and an opportunity for employers as they seek to keep workers engaged and fulfilled.”

It’s important to note that some resistance that workers have returning to the office full-time may also have to do with flexibility in terms of hours that comes from working at home, and less about the literal location of the work, as The Wall Street Journal noted in its latest story about workers’ desire for flexible hours — 95% of workers say they want to maintain the flexible hours and work schedule they get from working at home.

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The survey comes as companies like Google parent Alphabet Inc. GOOG, -0.94% GOOGL, -1.55%  and Apple Inc. AAPL, -2.95%  are urging workers to return to the office a few days a week. Other companies like Twitter Inc. TWTR, -2.13% and Facebook parent Meta FB, -1.79% Platforms Inc. have offered employees even more flexibility, and Airbnb Inc. ABNB, -8.71%  recently told its employees they can now work from basically anywhere in the world without a pay cut.

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