What Employees Are Really Saying About Why They Don’t Plan to Return to Work After Working From Home

It’s no secret many employees are digging their heels in and insisting on continuing to work from home. While the McKinsey Group’s latest survey shows the pandemic produced solid productivity increases companies appreciate, many are now stepping back from their claims of six months ago – some even flatly stating at the time – employees could work from home permanently or at least into the foreseeable future.

What’s happened in the intervening months to change their minds? And how is this change of heart being viewed, affecting, and dealt with by employees?

In a nutshell – as covid began to wind down, unemployment stats began dropping, the economy has been slowly turning around, encouraging companies to begin rethinking their original plans for work from home extensions. Believing now is the right time to send out return-to-work emails and letters. These messages stating absolute dates on which companies expect an employee to return to the workplace.

However, the Delta variant is now upon us and companies are slowly walking back their return-to-work policies. “A new challenge they have to work through,” says a recent report from the Hartford Insurance Company. That said, companies are somewhat unsure how to deal with this new issue. Google, Apple, and Lyft, for example, starting to push back the dates for previously stated workplace return; perhaps to 2022.

That said, the N.Y.C.-based think tank – Conference Board – recently interviewed 330 employers to gain an understanding of employee readiness to return to the workplace and employer plans for that eventuality. Employers stated they did not have an exact plan and were not sure who would be required to return and who would be offered voluntarily return.

Unsurprisingly employees have a variety of reasons why returning to the workplace is no longer an option.  And while most might think otherwise, McKinsey’s survey results show fear tops the list of employee reasons for deciding not to return to the workplace. And one can see, when discovering company issues below, why that is so.


As of now, companies have failed to provide enough info regarding work arrangements say employees – even for such simple issues as how will offices and desks be set up; will vaccinations be required and proof of. Will masks be required, for example?

Also on the health front, burnout, anxiety, and stress must be dealt with, say employees. Yet few companies have made plans to do so, and aren’t sure when they will.

The Hybrid System:

Regarding the hybrid work system, many have yet to provide enough, or in some cases, any information regarding policies, detailed plans about how the system will actually work. Failure to develop policies seeming to signal employees the company’s lack of desire to take responsibility for them and their health or consider these scenarios issues at all.


One of the top employee issues is finding good childcare. While most had childcare pre-pandemic, they have now lost those resources.  And been searching for new care providers in order to return to work. Many believing they will need to quit their jobs if unable to secure necessary childcare.

Family Medical Issues:

It’s no secret many families have been struck with covid; lost family members or caring for those still suffering. Providing time to care for them should be considered on the same level as family leave; however many companies are currently not inclined to do so. Meaning there will be a fair number of employees, from many companies, who won’t be capable of returning unless this is remedied. In some cases, perhaps the best employees.

5 Tips for Notifying Your Company of Your Reason for Not Wanting to Return to the Workplace After Receiving a Return-to-Work Notification:

1) Be clear about your why. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re experiencing serious issues with family and have become a caregiver. It may mean your quality of life is better working from home.

2) Be as specific as possible about how long you want your WFH scenario to last. For example – until you find a child or adult care provider; until school starts; until a family member recovers.

3) If you have experienced ‘burnout’, be honest and tell your boss what point you are at. Whether your doctor – if you’re seeing one – says it’s best to work from home for the foreseeable future.

5) Are you recovering from an illness or medical issue? Again, be clear about the stage of your illness and when it’s possible to return to the workplace.

Strategies for holding a conversation with your boss:

  • Have 1-2 reasons why this is beneficial for the company.
  • Don’t carry on; have a positive conversation, both of you adding your thoughts and ideas to the mix.
  • Never threaten quitting if a company is unable to accommodate you; you may never be rehired.
  • Be prepared to negotiate; don’t present your ideas as set in stone.


Jean L. Serio
Jean L. Serio
JEAN is a certified Human Resources professional with more than twenty-five years of experience in recruitment, interviewing, job training and development, resume, and LinkedIn Profile writing and review. The last 5 as a Certified Interview Success Coach, CEIC. With a passion for training, she guides others in first understanding their skills and strengths and how to best present themselves during an interview to help them secure the job. Her skills and expertise are also utilized to optimally prepare clients for confidently engaging with HR, hiring pros and decision-makers, and guiding them in how to enthusiastically and professionally respond during an interview rather than fearing the process. Her solid experience, coupled with expertise in the unspoken workings of the interview and hiring process, helps individuals prepare to present their achievements, skills, and expertise not only in a professional but compelling, way using stories of achievements which help the interviewee engage the interviewer or hiring a pro to effectively respond to questions to help raise their get-hired opportunities. Jean has been featured in Forbes;; BLR-Daily HR Advisor; ERE’s Daily HR Advisor; Next Ave. division of PBS; Medium; Entrepreneur HQ Magazine; Self Growth; beBee International, CBS, and NBC online and more. Her past has also included workshop trainings for HR, hosting hiring forums, speaking at job conferences for both job seekers and hiring pros, and more.

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