The Great Return: More companies calling employees back to the office
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. has seen "The Great Resignation" as many Americans ditched their jobs and big cities to look for more affordable places to live and find jobs that offered a better work-life balance.
But with COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations dropping and states easing restrictions, a new phase is being coined: The Great Return.
The adage reflects more companies calling their employees back to the office.
Companies requiring employees to return to the office
Last week, Google said it will require employees to return to its U.S. offices on April 4. Employees will be required to work at least three days of the week from the office.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple will begin calling employees back to the office. It will be a phased approach with teams initially returning one day a week before working up to three days a week starting in late May, with Wednesdays and Fridays being flexible.
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Facebook parent company, Meta Platforms (META), delayed its employees' return to the office from Jan. 31 to March 28 and will require COVID-19 booster shots for those who decide to return to the office and meet eligibility guidelines. If employees want to work remotely after March 28, they will need to request a deferral by mid-March.
The New York Times reported that Microsoft is asking employees to return to the office as the company also embraces a hybrid work model.
President Biden wants employees to return to the office
President Joe Biden also expressed his desire for Americans to get back to the office.
"Because of the progress we’ve made in fighting COVID, Americans can not only get back to work but they can going [sic] to the office and safely fill our great downtown cities again and — creating more commerce," he said from the White House earlier this month. "With 75 percent of adult Americans fully vaccinated and hospitalizations down by 77 percent, most Americans can remove their masks, return to work, and move forward safely."
Biden’s remarks came on the heels of the latest job report. The February jobs report showed a surprising gain of 678,000 positions blowing past the 400,000 estimates. The unemployment rate fell to 3.8%, the lowest number since the coronavirus hit the U.S. and down from 4.0% in January.
Statistics show remote working is decreasing
The latest jobs report also highlighted a potential shift in how Americans are working. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said in February, teleworking dipped to 13% from 15.4% in January.
A recent Pew poll also found around 59% of Americans say they can work from home – down from the 71% who said the same in Oct. 2020.
Researchers at the Pew Research Center noted that most U.S. workers don’t have jobs that can be done from home, and even those who work remotely mostly go into the office for at least some in-person interaction.
However, a new poll found that the majority of Americans working remotely would choose to keep doing so if given the option. Of Americans working remotely, 61% say they would choose to remain remote — almost double the amount that said the same in Oct. 2020.
RELATED: More than half of employees prefer mix of in-person, remote working, survey says
Reasons for remote work have shifted in the two years since the pandemic began, with the vast majority of supporters – 64% – citing an easier work-life balance. Geography also played a role, with 17% of remote workers saying they have relocated and cannot easily reach the office.
Coping with returning to the office
No doubt returning to the office will be a huge adjustment for many Americans both physically and mentally.
"So I would imagine things like anxiety around groups. I imagine social interactions are going to be very difficult to start off with for many people, particularly those who have not had face to face interactions over the past year," Clara Reynolds, the president and CEO of the Crisis Center Of Tampa Bay, told FOX 13 Tampa Bay.
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"For supervisors, making sure you're taking time out of your schedule to really check in with your staff, making sure you're sitting down and having those conversations and starting those conversations with how are you doing and being very quiet as opposed to the outcomes or the measures or any of the business-related things," said Reynolds.
And there are things employees can do to put themselves back into the daily routine.
"Make a plan for having something to look forward to at the office. Maybe you connect with a co-worker ahead of time and you plan a coffee or you plan to do lunch together. Something so that you can associate a fun activity with something else that's causing you some anxiety. Sometimes pairing the two together will really help alleviate some of that stress," Reynolds added.
FOX Business contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.