We've learned we can work remotely and many want to continue doing so

The American workforce has learned that for many, working from home works for them and their employers.  

Microsoft told its Washington state and Silicon Valley employees to return to their offices on February 28. Since Microsoft has also already allowed some, but not all employees to work remotely full time, even they will do half their work back at the office. So, Microsoft is risking losing some or many skilled employees who may look for other employers that allow more or total remote work.

A poll, by Advanced Workplace Associates, a management consulting firm, polled 10,000 technology, energy and finance workers of all ages worldwide. 

"We have leaned that we can work from home, that we can work remotely and because we've learned that we can, a lot of people want to," said Celeste Tell of Advanced Workplace Associates.

The poll found that only 3% of white collar workers would return to work five days a week. Another 86% said they want to work from home at least two days a week, with most preferring not to go into the office on Mondays and Fridays. 

The implication: many will quit, look for new jobs or retire. "Both an opportunity and a danger in terms of attracting and retaining the workforce that you want," said Tell.

A Conference Board study showed that because of COVID surges, 71% of employers changed return-to-the-workplace plans. It also found that only 9% of employees currently work full time in their offices. The Bay Area Council, a consortium of the region's largest employers asked employers about their plans. 

"I think the biggest thing we've learned across the past 10 months is that employers are not anticipating going back to a five day, in person, office norm post pandemics. They're anticipating a three-day a week new norm," said Kelly Obranowicz of the Bay Area Council.

Only 15% of employers now anticipate bringing back workers to a five days in the office schedule, one-fifth of pre-pandemic levels. 

"Employers who are beginning to bring people back to the workplace is gonna be further out probably what we're polling is mid-2022 before we're hitting that long term new normal," said Obranowicz. "This is all new. We're used to operating on best practice and date and we don't have any because we've only been doing this for less than two years, said Tell.

Other studies show many workers wanting a four-day work week.