Predicting return to office? Software engineers have something to say
December 2, 2022
min read

Predicting return to office? Software engineers have something to say

Adnan Pavlovic
Adnan Pavlovic

Not long ago, employees were locked in their home offices, complaining about the burnout levels, and at the same time enjoying discovered work-life balance. At the same time, their bosses were dreaming about the day when return to office would finally happen.

And then it finally did this year, but the bosses hoped that the end of summer holidays would bring more employees back at their desks.

The original intention to fully return to office didn’t go as planned. However, it brought promising signs. It’s worthwhile to mention that the tech industry currently operates between these types of workspace options to handle day-to-day activities:

  • Hybrid work
  • Remote work
  • 100% return to the office

According to property consultancy Remit, in the first full working week of September, the daily average number of employees working from the office in England hit the highest levels since May 2021.

return to office software engineers workplace

In comparison, on a global scale, 25% of all workers today are remote, 23% are hybrid, and 52% are at the workplace full-time, according to Haris Poll.

Since it’s a well-known fact that the tech industry favors remote work, when considering a full return to office, most companies choose carefully the right time to announce the long-expected return. Usually, company leadership and team leads spent many hours explaining to their colleagues why they believe that return-to-office policy matters.

As developer voices are often neglected, it’s not shocking at all that software engineers have different terms when considering to return back to the office.

The open space office, as we know, is dead

Now it’s well known that the pandemic’s effects influenced the workforce to define different expectations, and this is especially visible in the tech industry where companies have invested significantly to develop fancy offices based on open-plan design.

It seems that the open space office as we know it is officially dead. According to the #Wanted and #Misunderstood Developer Survey 2022, more than 2 in 10 (22%) participants would like to return to the desk in an open-plan office.

Effects of social distancing and greater awareness about productivity achieved in a physically smaller space with fewer distractions influenced software engineers to change their expectations. According to the same survey, participants stated that they would prefer more likely to work in a smaller office (39%), experiencing socialization in some sense while maintaining lower group levels.

To conclude, our findings indicate that companies will have to face the hard truth about the return to the office rather sooner than later. They will have to accept hybrid work arrangements as the primary workplace solution, at the same time, investing a lot of effort to teach employees that the real value is in being together.

In the end, they must let their employees figure out which type of work suits them the best.

Mandatory return to office influences layoffs

Reflecting about the future of work can’t be done without understanding the broader consequences caused by the current energy and cost crisis.

Global tumultuous brought companies who have developed shiny-bright offices to now work on plans to switch off heating power on certain floors and navigate workers to sit together in smaller areas. We believe that this measure will provide additional encouragement to employees who consider returning to the office in a different arrangement.

Unfortunately, many tech companies are using return-to-office mandates instead of layoffs, to get rid of employees below the budget line. These actions only contribute to dehumanizing brands pushing them farther away from the favorable position to attract tech talent later on.

Return to the office will only work if there is a personal choice

This reality puts a lot of pressure on employees who have to pay for transport, office lunches, and additional childcare costs. Types of costs that they haven’t incurred for quite some time and that was a basis of more comfortable living conditions.

return to office software engineers workplace

The tech workforce, as any other today, needs plenty of choice about where, when, and how to work. The greater the levels of choice are, the better engagement, satisfaction performance, and happier employees are.

Company leadership, together with their employees, have to figure out why and how to obtain return-to-office process, obviously under the above described clearly stated demands from software engineers.


Return to the office has never been foreseen as an easy transition, but the leadership formed the wrong prediction that employees would be ecstatic to experience again the long-forgotten social dimension.

The office will need to earn the commute.


#Wanted and #Misunderstood: A Developer Survey 2023 (Full Report)

Download now

#Wanted and #Misunderstood: A Developer Survey 2023 (Full Report)

Jetzt downloaden