Why Executives Overwhelmingly Want to Return to the Office

Updated: 02 Nov, 2021 | Bill Peatman

A recent Randstad USA survey found the 75 percent of U.S. workers do not want to go back to their workplaces due to health concerns. A PwC survey found that more than 40 percent of workers never want to return to an office regardless of health or pandemic-related issues.

This has been a familiar theme throughout the pandemic and our uneven recovery. Employees want to stay remote.

No one seems to be talking to their bosses.

79% of Executives Want to Return to an Office

Prialto’s 2021 Executive Productivity Report asked 600 high-earning (minimum $100K annual salary), high-ranking (director level, and above) executives if they want to return to the office—not "plan to" but "want to."

79 percent said yes. And 65 percent said the office is where they are most productive.

Do you want to return to the office?

Do you want to return to the office?

Where are you most productive?

Where are you most productive?

This is not some pundit's opinion about what executives want to do. This is what executives themselves said in August.

Too Much Admin Work at Home

To look at why executives want to return to the office, we don’t have to look very far—79 percent of those that want to return to the office said it is because they believe they are more productive there.

Why do you want to return to the office?

Why do you want to return to the office?

Connecting with coworkers is a distant second, followed by a better work-life balance. Much fewer cite cabin fever. It’s not about getting out of the house but about boosting productivity.

Executives Are Spending Too Much Time on Admin Work

One of the reasons executives want to get back to the office is because they are doing more of their own admin work at home. When asked what they most need help with to improve productivity, 62 percent said admin tasks a 14 percent increase from 2019.

What tasks do you most need help with?

What tasks do you most need help with?

Executives spent a lot more time on task management than they did in the past.

What tools do you use to be productive?

What tools do you use to be productive?

Lack of admin resources may be one of the reasons returning to an office is so appealing. Executives did more of their own scheduling, task management, time management, and CRM work in 2021. Task management jumped 23 percent.

Executives Want to Do More Deep Work

When asked what the best use of their time is, 81 percent of executives said, “independent projects and strategy.” This kind of “deep work” requires sustained focus, which can be difficult to maintain at home, especially when the need for basic task management is growing.

What kind of work is the best use of your time?

What type of work is the best use of your time?

The fact that the priority of independent projects and strategy grew 14 percent in 2021 suggests that executives want more time for that. Meetings with reports declined as a priority because meetings were harder to hold.

Executives Need More Sleep

Then there is the issue of sleep. Executives reported getting less sleep in 2021—a lot less.

Which of the following best describes your sleep habits?

Which of the following best describes your sleep habits?

The number of execs getting the recommended 6-9 hours of shut-eye dropped 27 percent in 2021. That and the fact that more than half cited work-life balance as the second biggest reason they wanted to go back to the office indicates that all that added admin work and task management is coming at the expense of rest.

How to Outsource the Executive Admin Work

The increase in admin work is one reason more executives are turning to remote virtual assistants to take back control of their schedules (and their sleep).

Who do you rely on to help you be productive?

Some 25 percent of executives turned to remote virtual executive assistants to improve their productivity—up from 20 percent in 2019. These executives have learned the poor ROI of paying themselves to manage tasks like:

  • Scheduling meetings

  • Planning travel

  • Filing expenses

  • CRM data management

  • Lead follow up

  • Invoicing and payment processing

Prialto offers a managed virtual assistant service that hires, trains, and supervises remote executive assistants for U.S. executives, fast-tracking support, and productivity. To learn more about working with a Prialto virtual assistant, download our guide.

Discover how a virtual assistant can boost your productivity,

About the Author: Bill is Prialto's senior content marketing manager and writes about the future of work and how businesses can be more productive and successful. His work has appeared in the World Economic Forum Agenda blog and CIO magazine.

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