Employees are rebelling against return-to-office policies by quitting their jobs in favour of employers with more flexible work arrangements.

Research by recruiter Robert Half found 75% of chief information officers (CIOs) have had a candidate turn down a job because of lack of flexibility.

Robert Half director Nicole Gorton told Information Age it isn’t surprising to see candidates actively seeking out or rejecting roles based on flexible working arrangements.

“Hybrid work is here to stay, with flexible working arrangements now considered an expectation from employers rather than a ‘nice-to-have’,” she said.

“As employers formalise their return-to-office transition, offering greater flexibility benefits has evolved into a must-have for companies who want to tap into a larger talent pool and stand out as an employer of choice.”

With scarce tech talent able to command high salaries among other benefits, employees demanding permanent work-from-home arrangements have the upper hand.

“Given the fierce competition for technical skills and the number of job opportunities skill tech talent have on the table at any one time, businesses who are not offering flexible working arrangements are at risk of falling behind in the war for talent,” said Gorton.

“Candidates recognise flexible work arrangements as a broader sign that an employer supports work-life balance, so has become a touchpoint for the company culture overall.”

Bad Apple

The findings come on the heels of Apple director of machine learning Ian Goodfellow reportedly quitting over the tech giant’s return-to-office mandate, according to Verge reporter Zoe Schiffer.

“I believe strongly that more flexibility would have been the best policy for my team,” Goodfellow wrote in response to being recalled to the office by management.

Apple staff have been vocal in their dissatisfaction of the new policy, writing an undated open letter to its executive team criticising the company’s newly introduced ‘Hybrid Working Pilot’.

“You have characterised the decision for the Hybrid Working Pilot as being about combining the ‘need to commune in-person’ and the value of flexible work,” they wrote under the banner of ‘Apple Together’.

“But in reality, it does not recognise flexible work and is only driven by fear. Fear of the future of work, fear of worker autonomy, fear of losing control.”

The employees argued three fixed days in the office and two work-from-home (WFH) days broken apart by an office day “is almost no flexibility at all”.

“We are not asking for everyone to be forced to work from home,” they argued.

“We are asking to decide for ourselves, together with our teams and direct manager, what kind of arrangement works best for each one of us, be that in an office, work from home, or a hybrid approach.

“Stop treating us like school kids who need to be told when to be where and what homework to do.”