Return-to-office mandates are becoming more common, but companies are increasingly downsizing and worried about whether they will be able to maintain their current offices.

That’s the seemingly paradoxical finding of a new survey from Boston-based workplace strategy firm Robin, which surveyed over 500 business owners and facility managers about their office space plans and remote work and return-to-office policies.

The results show that 88% of companies now require employees to work a certain number of days in the office, up from 69% a year ago. Still, 75% plan to reduce office space next year, compared to 46% in 2022.

“It looks like a reverse trend, but it really isn’t,” said Robin CEO Micah Remley Boston Globe. “Over the past year, we’ve seen companies finally have a vision of what they want to achieve with their office space and are putting those plans into action.”

What they want, he said, is “a flexible office space that is highly collaborative.”

Lenny Beaudoin, managing director of real estate firm CBRE, added: “Companies have historically had more room for contingencies and they are realizing that through hybrid working and the way their employees actually use the space, they can actually do that. “Reduce some of the space.”

The survey also found that 80% of companies have downsized their offices since the pandemic and 82% fear being able to keep their current office, whether due to a recession or inadequate space utilization.

The results showed that more companies were making more extensive use of their existing offices: 56% of respondents said the majority of their employees work in the office full-time, up 19% from last year. And 40% said the majority of their teams are working hybrid, down 21% from 2022. Only 4% said their company is fully remote.

Less remote work, more days in the office

Of those surveyed who sought part-time office work, 52% required four days, 26% required three days, 16% required two days, and 3% required one day.

Of those who completely rejected hybrid, the reasons were varied: 42% said they had already invested in new office space, 30% said they were unwilling to compromise on their office culture, and 27% said their employees were not be able to work outside of the office.

The survey is bad news for remote workers who oppose returning to the office. In a viral TikTok video, a Gen Zer expressed her horror at the 10-hour day it took to get to the office for her first job. In Australia, an Indian investor recently told remote workers that their jobs were ripe for outsourcing. And ChatGPT maker OpenAI, whose CEO Sam Altman called the remote work “experiment” one of the tech industry’s worst mistakes, recently inked a deal for 486,600 square feet of new office space in San Francisco.

But like that Wall Street Journal It was recently reported that the office visit rate in major cities is still only about half of what it was in 2019. This is despite a slight increase and tough comments from senior CEOs about enforcing return-to-office policies.

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