New research reveals that many workers are signaling the same slogan as women demanding reproductive rights: “We won’t go back!” According to a State of Remote Work Report from Owl Labs and Global Workplace Analytics, the way we work transformed at lightning speed in the past three years, changing the workplace forever. Today, remote and in-office working styles are fluid, with many workers insisting on a blended, flexible approach. Priorities have evolved for both employers and employees alike, pushing flexible and hybrid work to the forefront.

Over the past two years, hybrid and remote positions have dominated advertised vacancies, reshaping workplace norms and giving employees power when it comes to flexibility and where they work. According to McKinsey, 87% of Americans want to work in a flexible environment that allows for work in an office setting as well as virtually. Although some say the tables have turned again as employers become firmer on mandatory return-to-office policies, the American workforce is having none of it. The Owl Labs poll of over 2,300 full-time U.S. workers sought to learn why workers are saying they won’t go back and discover their preferences, requirements and concerns when it comes to all-things work: in-office, remote and hybrid.

We Won’t Go Back!

As the great mismatch increases and more companies call workers back to the office, employee resistance continues, especially for those whose workplaces once said they were “remote-first.” The latest resistance strategy, “coffee badging,” involves employees coming into the office just long enough to grab a coffee and chat, then returning home to finish work from there. So why are employees so resistant to working in the office? Results from the Owl Labs survey show that, for many U.S. workers, workplace flexibility is non-negotiable. Here are the 10 key findings:

  1. The number of workers choosing to work remotely in 2022 increased 24% since 2021. And those choosing hybrid work went up 16%. Interest for in-office work, however, dropped by 24%.
  2. Almost one in three (29%) of workers changed jobs within the past year, with an additional nine percent actively looking for their next role.
  3. If the ability to work from home was taken away, two-thirds (66%) of workers say they would immediately start looking for a job that offered flexibility, and 39% say they would simply quit.
  4. 41% of small companies (10-50 employees) are requiring employees to return to the office compared to 27% of enterprises (10k+ employees).
  5. Only one-third (36%) of employers have upgraded their video meeting technology since the start of the pandemic.
  6. 62% of workers reported being more productive when working remotely.
  7. Almost half (45%) of workers say their level of work-related stress has increased somewhat or substantially in the past year.
  8. 49% say they believe managers view those in the office as harder working and more trustworthy than their remote counterparts.
  9. Hybrid workers save $19.11 each day when working from home rather than at the office.
  10. 52% say they would take a pay cut of five percent or more to have flexibility in working location, with 23% saying they would take a pay cut of 10% or more.

The study also found that workers are beginning to lose trust in their employers, in part due to employers’ flip-flopping on workplace policies. A full 53% of companies have surveyed employees regarding their remote work experiences or preferences, but only 39% of those have shared the results with their employees.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The State of Remote Work Report adds to a large body of information that shows workers are overloaded and distrustful and demand flexibility, transparency and autonomy to stay in a job. So where do we go from here?

According to Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs, the company has been hybrid even before the pandemic. It understands how important it is to offer workplace flexibility, and data from the State of Remote Work Report shows that the option to work from home is increasingly important to employees. “In fact, most people are not willing to compromise their work-life balance for a fully in-person job, regardless of pay,” Weishaupt notes. “Having more control over their work schedules allows employees to work during the hours where they feel most focused—ultimately leading to higher productivity.” He adds that the data from the survey shows to HR leaders that offering flexible or hybrid work options plays a key role in both attracting and retaining talent. “Workers are looking for jobs that will respect and allow schedules best suited to their individual needs,” he asserts. “My prediction is that the need for a hybrid option for employees will only increase with time and if companies don’t get on board, they will be playing catch-up as this trend progresses.”


  • Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Journalist, psychotherapist, and Author of 40 books.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, psychotherapist in private practice, and award-winning author of two novels and 40 nonfiction books that have been translated into 15 languages. His latest books are CHAINED TO THE DESK IN A HYBRID WORLD: A GUIDE TO WORK-LIFE BALANCE (New York University Press, 2023)#CHILL: TURN OFF YOUR JOB AND TURN ON YOUR LIFE (William Morrow, 2019), DAILY WRITING RESILIENCE: 365 MEDITATIONS & INSPIRATIONS FOR WRITERS (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). He is a regular contributor to, Psychology Today, and Thrive Global. He has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, ABC's World News Tonight, NPR’s Marketplace, NBC Nightly News and he hosted the PBS documentary "Overdoing It: How To Slow Down And Take Care Of Yourself." website: