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Sign of the times

What do Philadelphia and Patagonia have in common? Unwelcome RTO mandates

As return-to-office policies gain traction across various sectors, tensions between employers and employees are rising. In Philadelphia, a union representing city workers is challenging Mayor Cherelle Parker's directive requiring around 5,000 employees to return to full-time office work by 15 July 2024. The union argues that the mandate not only harms workers but also violates their contracts.

Similarly, outdoor brand Patagonia faced backlash when it abruptly gave 90 remote workers just three days to decide whether to relocate closer to one of its metro hubs or face termination, a move that seems at odds with the company's historically progressive stance on work-life balance and environmental consciousness. Let my people go surfing? Maybe not…

A worker’s employment-related carbon emissions can be cut in half by switching to remote

While companies cite improved collaboration, team cohesion and the revitalization of business districts as reasons to require full-time office presence, workers are fighting to maintain the advantages of remote work, including better work-life balance, greater autonomy, increased productivity and time saved from commuting.

Employees at organizations enforcing return-to-office mandates express a lower intention to stay compared to those not faced with such mandates

Additionally, some speculate that RTO policies may serve alternate motives for businesses, such as maximizing real estate investments or facilitating voluntary attrition during downsizing efforts. As the debate unfolds, it's clear that finding a balance between organizational needs and employee preferences will be crucial in shaping the future of work.