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1 in 4 Remote Workers Refuse In-Office Mandate

After more than two years of remote work brought on by the lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers want their staff back on site. Some companies first tried to coax their staff back with a broad array of in-office perks, but are now taking more drastic steps towards filling cubicles. In recent months this has often manifested in the form of return-to-office mandates. Many workers have chosen not to comply, even at the risk of losing their jobs.

In September, Reli Exchange, a subsidiary of Reliance Global Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: RELI) surveyed 1,000 remote-working Americans. Among those facing a mandate, more than 1 in 4 (25.9%) are refusing to return to the office despite mandates from their employers. Among other things, the survey also reveals what’s making them hold out, what they will do if terminated, and what can be done to get them back into the office.

At a Glance...

If Fired for Not Returning On-Site, 40% Plan to Start a Business

If Fired for Not Returning to Office, 40% Plan to Start aWill Start Their Own Business

The Great Resignation was a trend that lasted for much of the period since COVID-19 lockdowns began. This was followed by the idea of “Quiet Quitting” trending on social media, along with the employer response of “Quiet Firing.” Our survey may shed light on some of the reasons people are deprioritizing their careers, compared to other aspects of their lives.

Forty percent of holdouts will start their own businesses if fired. Of this group, 3 in 4 are men. Among aspiring male entrepreneurs, 67% are older Millennials and younger GenXers ages 35-44. The least motivated to start their own business among men are those 45+ at only 1%. 

However, among women, age does not correlate with motivation. While the data bears out that, like men, women ages 35-44 are most likely to start their own business (60%), 23% of women ages 45 and up say they will start their own business if fired for not returning to the office. 

It’s interesting that workers passionate about starting their own business will only do it if they are let go from their current role. I don’t think starting the journey as an entrepreneur because a major event forced your hand is ideal.

— Grant Barra, SVP of Operations at Reliance Global Group, Inc.

Remote Workers Making $25-50K Most Willing to Lose Job 

Among those refusing to comply with return-to-office mandates, those making $25,000 to $49,999 are the most willing to accept termination. The least likely are those making $100,000 to $124,999.

Many successful entrepreneurs started their journey as a side hustle, while employed, grinded out the startup process and made the full time transition.

— Grant Barra, SVP of Operations at Reliance Global Group, Inc.

1 in 4 Pre-Pandemic Office Workers Refuse In-Office Mandate

In-office refusal is even catching among those who once called the break room home. One in four of those who worked in-office pre-pandemic will not return.

Because 1 in 4 pre-pandemic office workers now refuse to return to the office, both employers and employees will need to make difficult decisions, and it is likely impossible to make everyone happy. Employers should explore not only why they want people in the office, but whether bringing people into the office is achieving those goals. If the main reason to bring people back is to collaborate with colleagues, for example, they need to set terms that ensure that happens.

— Grant Barra, SVP of Operations at Reliance Global Group, Inc.

Older Millennials and younger GenXers (35 to 44) who used to work in-office are least likely to comply, compared to every other age group. Between the older and younger generations, older pre-pandemic workers who are women are less likely to comply than younger women. This is the opposite for pre-pandemic office working men, where the younger men are less likely to comply, compared to the older men. 

Twenty-five percent of women 45 and up will not comply, whereas less than 7% of men in this age group said the same. Twenty-six percent of men between the ages of 25-34 will not comply despite working in office pre-pandemic as well as 27% of men between the ages of 18-25. This is compared to 18% of women ages 24-34 and 13% ages 18-24.

One potential driver for this behavior is that people have gotten used to working without direct supervision, and with the benefits of greater flexibility.

It was a struggle for me because every day you have to be sitting at the same spot and doing the same stuff. I can schedule my own hours. I have more flexibility, especially with having kids.

— Shagun Anand, RELI Exchange Insurance Agent

Health Concerns, Work-Life Balance Cited Most as Advantages

Among those not complying with return-to-office mandates, equal value is put on better work-life balance and health safety concerns. According to the survey, 50% of respondents selected both as beneficial. 

You don't want an employee coming to the office and the colleagues that collaboration with makes most sense are not on site, it becomes a reason to not make the effort in the future, the only thing the employee gained was commute time. It seems like, for now, employees have the upper hand. This can change fast and a remote position may result in less job security, the best way to hedge against this as a remote worker is to exceed expectations in your role or become an entrepreneur where you have more control of time and earnings.

— Grant Barra, SVP of Operations at Reliance Global Group, Inc.

For men, 70% cite avoiding health safety concerns as a top advantage of remote work. However, only 30% of women selected this option. Instead, 35% of  women found value in the financial benefits of remote work.

Better work-life balance is the second most popular option for both men and women at 66% and 34%, respectively. 

Through the lens of age, both genders ages 35-44 selected work-life balance the most at around 50%. The slightly younger age group of 25-34-year-olds also find this to be an advantage to remote working at 27% of men and 22% of women. However, work-life balance is of little importance to seniors with only 1% of men 54 and older selecting it and only 4% of women. 

The only major difference among ethnicities of those who will not comply is that 52% of Asians selected financial benefits as the primary advantage of remote work, with health safety concerns at 45%, and work life balance at a low 25%. Among all other ethnicities, work-life balance is the primary advantage of remote working at 56%, followed by health safety concerns at 52%, and the elimination of a commute at 45%.

Hybrid Schedule Would Coax 60% Back to the Office

Despite not complying, 60% of Americans say a hybrid schedule of four days or less in the office would convince them to work on site. This is especially popular among those ages 35-44, with more than half selecting this option. An agreed-upon number of on-site days per year is the second most appealing option to Americans with 43% saying this would convince them to return.

Hybrid schedule would coax 60% back to the office

Hybrid For Men, Money for Women

Our survey found that men and women would be coaxed back to the office by different things. Two in five American women say a raise would motivate them back in-office and one in three say a promotion would. Forty percent of these women are between the ages of 35-44 and 30% are between the ages of 25-34. Comparably, 3 in 4 men say a hybrid schedule of 4 or fewer days or an agreed-upon number of days per year would convince them back to in-office work.  Over half are between the ages of 35-44.

More Impactful Work Would Motivate 1 in 4 Back to Office

One in four remote workers refusing to return to the office also say a more impactful company mission would help motivate them back to the office. Older Millennials and younger GenXers selected this option the most at 52%.

More Impactful Work Would Motivate 1/3 Back to Office

Just over half (55%) of men who would be motivated back in-office by more impactful work are between the ages of 35-44, with nearly half of women (44%) in this same age group saying the same. 

In contrast to men, 22% of women between the ages of 45-54 would be motivated if the company had a more impactful mission whereas only 10% of men in this age group say the same. 

Through the lens of education, four-year college graduates are the most likely to be coaxed back to the office with the promise of more impact, while those with only a high school education care the least about an impactful company mission.

70% of Men Will Not Comply With an In-Office Mandate

Three in four men say they will not comply with an in-office mandate, whereas 30% of women say the same. Over half of these men and women are between the ages of 35-44, almost 20%  between the ages of 25 and 34, 15% between 18-24, and just under 12% are 45 or older.

Of those who will not comply, 60% of them are men between the ages of 35-44, and 48% of women in this same age group.

Higher Chance of Non-Compliance Among University Grads

Nearly half of Americans with a four-year degree say they will not comply with an in-office mandate, compared to 1 in 3 high school graduates. Nineteen percent of those with a middle school education and only 20% of post-graduates say they would not comply.

Increasingly, companies are requiring their workers to return to the office and our research shows that a convincing majority will not comply. The remote workforce is certainly here to stay.

— William Lebovics, CFO of Reliance Global Group, Inc.

Entrepreneurship Appeals Most to Those with Only a High School Education

When it comes to starting a business, our survey found that a college education actually makes Americans less likely to start their own business if fired.  

Among those refusing to comply with mandates, 1 in 3 with only a high school education will start their own business if fired. Compare this to only 26% of those with a 4-year degree, and even fewer among postgraduates at 16%. Instead, half of those with a 4-year degree would prefer to find a new job.

For the best opportunity to succeed I recommend engaging a mentor or coach, many times this is a paid expense but worth it. RELI Exchange is one option people have to follow a blueprint, and receive the support to succeed under similar circumstances, mentorship and coaching is built into the program.

— Grant Barra, SVP of Operations at Reliance Global Group, Inc.

Work-Life Balance for California, Financial Benefits for Texans

We also looked at the data through the lens of the four most populous states. Among them, 25% of Californians, 28% of Floridians, 26% of New Yorkers, and 25% of Texans who are currently working remotely will not comply.

Californians say the top advantage of remote work is work-life balance with 67% selecting this option. This option dropped to 50% among New Yorkers where the most selected option is being able to avoid health risks at 64%. Floridians say that work-life balance and financial benefits are equally important at 61%. Texans say financial benefits are a top advantage to remote work with 76% selecting this option. 

If you're at a captive agency, get out. Get somewhere like RELI Exchange where you can have more options to offer people. If you've never been in the insurance business, now is the time to get into it. You go into a place where you can be your own agency partner and you can offer your clients so much more stuff.

— Emily Vacek, RELI Exchange Insurance Agent

Texans Will Start A Business, Californians Will Find a New Job

Among remote workers facing termination in California, Texas, Florida, and New York, the most popular next step is to find a new job (41%) or start a business (35%).  

The largest difference is 53% of Californians who are terminated for not complying will find a new job, while only 18% of Texans selected this. Texans will instead plan to start their own business if terminated for not complying, with 57% selecting this.

Texans Will Start A Business, Californians Will Find a New Job>

Half of New Yorkers are also more likely to start their own business if terminated, and 36% say they will find a new job. More Floridians, like Californians, say they will find a new job if terminated for not complying with an in-office mandate at 44%. Additionally, 33% of Floridians also say they would start their own business.

Many high-performing insurance brokers feel tethered to a carrier and are looking for a way to break free; RELI Exchange has disrupted the playing field for these brokers. Signing on to our white-label platform will instantaneously transform a broker into the entrepreneur they have dreamed of becoming - on day 1. You’re essentially starting your own business with all the back-end admin covered, selling the best of what any carrier out there can offer, with the ability to scale quickly; all from the comfort of your home and with complete autonomy. When you watch all those Progressive commercials on NFL Sunday, just think I can take a piece of that business for myself.

— William Lebovics, CFO of Reliance Global Group, Inc.

Start Your Own Business Today

If you’re considering starting your own business but don’t know where to start, Reli Exchange’s many resources can make the process less intimidating. Its easy-to-use InsurTech platform makes being an independent agency partner a breeze with features that provide less overhead, online servicing, virtual business models, and back-office support. With the help of Reli, you won’t be forced to choose between your life and career.

Start Here


All data in this report was collected using the online survey platform, Pollfish, and commissioned by Reliance Global Group. A total of 1,000 Americans who currently work remote, or on a hybrid schedule were included according to Pollfish’s algorithm and screening methodology, with a 95% confidence level and a margin of error of 3% on the total US population. Results for individual states will vary. The survey was conducted on September 19, 2022. All respondents were asked to answer all questions truthfully and to the best of their abilities. This survey, and data story were developed by Brand Boba in partnership with Quantum Media Group.

For full survey data or to interview one of our experts, please email [email protected].

© 2022 Reli Exchange
RELI Exchange is a subsidiary of Reliance Global Group Inc.
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