No, office mandates don’t help companies make more money, study finds (Danielle Abril, January 24, 2024, Washington Post)

“We will not get back to the time when as many people will be happy working from the office the way they were before the pandemic,” said Mark Ma, co-author of the study and associate professor at the Katz Graduate School of Business. Additionally, mandates make workers less happy, therefore less productive and more likely to look for a new job, he said.

The study analyzed a sample of Standard & Poor’s 500 firms to explore the effects of office mandates, including average change in quarterly results and company stock price. Those results were compared with changes at companies without office mandates. The outcome showed the mandates made no difference. Firms with mandates did not experience financial boosts compared with those without. The sample covered 457 firms and 4,455 quarterly observations between June 2019 and January 2023.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that over the past year, as more companies have debuted or doubled down on mandates, the number of people working from the office hasn’t changed much. About 78 percent of workers ages 16 and older worked entirely on-site in December 2023, down from 81 percent a year earlier. Of course, some professions like tech workers, who often have more flexible work schedules, have much lower averages, with only 34 percent working entirely on-site last month compared with 38 percent last year.

“There are compliance issues universally,” said Prithwiraj Choudhury, a Harvard Business School professor who studies remote work. “Some companies are issuing veiled threats about promotions and salary increases … which is unfortunate because this is your talent pool, your most valuable resource.”

…it’s just to pretend managers matter.