A poll of over 580 tech leaders shows a return to the office looms

By Joe Lazauskas

The Great Resignation. A return to the office. The tech downturn.

 
A poll of over 580 tech leaders shows a return to the office looms
 

Tech founders and executives are facing a whirlwind of disruptive forces. On tech panels and podcasts from New York to Silicon Valley, the consensus has been that everyone should wait to see how things shake out.

We didn’t want to wait.

In July, A.Team partnered with MassChallenge to survey 581 tech founders and executives from MassChallenge’s network, ranging from pre-seed to IPO companies. We asked them about how they’re tackling these monumental challenges—revealing plans to return to the office, adopting new talent models, and much more.

 
 

The entire report is worth reading, but here are five of our biggest takeaways:

1. Remote has worked, but a return to the office looms

Two years ago, there was rampant consternation that a shift to remote work would kill employee productivity. The reality has been much different: 62% of tech leaders said that a switch to remote work has increased productivity.

By contrast, only 13% disagreed with that statement. While there remain concerns about boosting creativity and innovation—as Derek Thompson eloquently writes about here—remote work has, well, worked for most tech companies.

 

Despite this success, the trend is shifting back towards a return to the office, with founders following the lead of tech giants like Apple, which is now requiring employees to work from the office at least three days a week, despite serious pushback.

Our survey found that 37% of tech founders and executives plan to ask employees to work in the office more over the next 12 months. When we look at more mature companies at the Series B, C, D, E, or IPO stage, that portion grows to more than half (55%).

Fifty-three percent of respondents also said that an economic downturn would make it easier to require employees to return to the office, as a less competitive market for talent would change the power dynamic between employees and employers—which may already be shifting.

 

This may not be great news to most people reading this: a Gallup poll this week found that 94% of workers want to remain remote or hybrid.

2. The Great Resignation has taken its toll with an exodus of top performers

Friday’s jobs report showed that the Great Resignation isn’t slowing down—4.2 million workers quit in July, keeping pace with previous months.

The 581 tech leaders we surveyed have felt that impact as well—44% said that a significant number of their top performers had left due to The Great Resignation. Among Series B to IPO companies, 53% said they’d lost their top performers.

 

This departure of top talent may be why—contrary to the popular media narrative created by recent rounds of layoffs—hiring plans are actually on the rise, particularly among more mature companies at the Series B to IPO stages.

Among founders and executives at the Series B to IPO stage, 59% said that their hiring plans have increased over the past six months.

This may seem surprising given all the layoff news, but the roughly 15,000 tech workers laid off each month since May pales in comparison to the post-pandemic layoffs in 2020, and most laid-off workers have been quickly snatched up.

Our findings also align with the JOLTS report, which reported 500,000 jobs added in July and over 300,000 in August, and an unexpected increase to over 11.2M job openings.

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