A third of surveyed managers want their employees back in the office full-time so they can track them and make sure they’re not taking too many breaks, according to a new study.

A Fiverr Business survey of 1,000 managers and executives in the US, along with 1,000 employees, found some of the reasons why many companies are resisting the global push for hybrid or full-time remote work.

The main reason identified by the study is that employers believe their staff are more productive and disciplined when in the office, and that they’re already paying for real estate for these offices.

But they face an uphill battle to reinstate the in-person office, with 42 percent of the surveyed workers saying they’d consider quitting their current job if they were forced to work five days per week in the office.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionised the way we work and introduced working from home for many professionals.

This is now commonly in the form of hybrid work, where employees work some days from home and some from the office, or permanent remote working.

We’re watching you

According to the Fiverr research, 33 percent of the managers surveyed want their employees back full-time so they are more motivated when they know they are being watched by their bosses.

Just under a quarter of the executives surveyed said they also believe employees are likely to take shorter breaks if they are in the office.

This could well be unfounded though, with Gartner research showing that 55 percent of employees are high performers when provided with radical flexibility, while only 36 percent are when working full-time from an office.

The push for a return to the office is being driven by large corporations, the research found. Nearly 70 percent of the executives surveyed from companies with more than 500 employees said they want their staff back five days a week in the office.

A quarter of these managers said this is because they are paying for real estate, while more than 40 percent said they believe employees can more easily access and communicate with company infrastructure from the office.

But it’s going to take a lot to convince employees to return to the office.

According to the survey, more than 60 percent of those surveyed said they’d only return to the office if they got a salary increase, while one in five said that no incentive at all could convince them to do this.

Forty-two percent of those surveyed said they’d consider leaving their job if they had to return to the office.

“Fiverr’s survey reaffirms that employees want flexibility and autonomy,” Fiverr Business general manager Shany Malbin said.

Freelance to become new norm

“High performing American workers don’t want to be watched by a manager at all times. They do not want to be timed when they are taking a break. It is attitudes like this that are fuelling the growth in the number of highly skilled workers turning to freelancing as a full-time career.”

It’s been predicted that about half of the entire US workforce will be freelance by 2030.

“Employers need to think about building flexibility into their workforces, not just to retain their current employees, but also plan for hiring independent workers in preparation for this evolving workforce,” Malbin said.

Another recent survey also found that nearly all workers want remote or at least hybrid work. This study also found that remote jobs are paying on average $US3,000 more across three countries, with 15 out of the 17 countries studied paying more for remote roles.

One large company which has embraced remote working is Australian tech giant Atlassian. The software firm recently launched a recruitment drive to hire 1,000 remote workers across Australia as part of its work from anywhere policy, which was launched at the start of the pandemic and has since been made permanent.

Bosses looking to track what their employees are doing across the day are warned not to turn to “bossware”, or employee monitoring software. A survey conducted by Morning Consultant earlier this year found that nearly half of tech workers would quit if subject to such monitoring, which would offer employers a way to monitor what their staff are doing even when they’re not in the office.

A survey by Digital.com found that 60 percent of companies with remote staff are using monitoring software, and this is likely on the rise.