Surprising Demands From Employees Returning to Offices and What They Can Live Without

Smiling executive talking on mobile phone while holding exercise mat and shoes in office.
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Now that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is disappearing in the rear-view mirror, many U.S. companies are asking employees to return to the office — most notably, Tesla. CEO Elon Musk recently sent a series of emails to Tesla employees making it clear he no longer wants executive staff working from home.

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Other companies have taken a more diplomatic approach, luring employees back to the office by offering everything from free lunch to private concerts, according to a new survey from Framery, which makes soundproof office phone booths, pods and private spaces.

The survey of more than 4,000 adults, conducted in May, found that employees in the post-COVID world value perks that can enhance their work-life balance rather than the fun and games companies used to offer. This mainly means putting a greater focus on quiet spaces and ditching the communal games.

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“The findings should put a final nail in the coffin of the ping pong tables, beer kegs, scooters, and other artifacts of ‘mandatory fun’ office culture,” Framery CEO Samu Hällfors said in a press release. 

Instead, many employees now want to replicate the best work-from-home perks after a couple years of working remotely.

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“Working from home made it possible for people to exercise more regularly and to do more quality work without the constant interruptions of the open office,” Hällfors said. “These are tangible benefits that made employees happier and more productive, and it’s clear that they don’t want to give them up as they return to the office.”

In terms of what returning office workers most want, here were the two leading demands:

  • Fitness perks: Nearly half of all office workers (46%) said they want access to yoga studios and office gyms.
  • Quiet spaces: A similar percentage (44%) said they want access to a designated quiet space in the office.

And what can returning office workers live without? Here were the leading replies:

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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