Would you return to the office if your commute was company-funded?

Dreading your return to the office commute? You're not alone. A recent survey reveals what perks would make employees ditch remote work, and it's not all about money.

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.
Written and reviewed by:

The debate around remote versus office work continues to simmer after COVID-19 reshaped workplace culture. While some employees thrive in the traditional office setting, others have discovered the benefits of working from home, and can’t easily be persuaded to return.  

But a new survey by Ringover sheds light on what might entice employees to ditch remote work and return to the office. The most significant barrier to returning to the office is the daily commute, both in terms of financial cost and its overall impact on wellbeing, with an average employee commuting for 27 minutes each way. 

The Ringover research found that a whopping 83% of respondents considered a company-funded commute to be the principal thing that would tempt them back to more regular office work days. Additionally, 48% of respondents felt a pay rise of £5,000 to £10,000 would be enough to persuade them to increase their office attendance.

Return to work: companies vs employees

The Ringover survey found that a significant portion (77%) of Fortune 100 companies began implementing some form of RTO policy, starting in 2021. For the most part,  employees are mandated to be in the office for three days a week. Of the survey respondents:

  • 29.8% insisted on a mandatory RTO policy
  • 38.3% said that RTO policy was “heavily encouraged”
  • 14.7% provided an optional RTO policy
  • 17.2% did not implement an RTO policy

There’s plenty of debate about whether mandatory RTO policies even work, with critics pointing towards their likelihood to lead to higher staff turnover, as employees seek more flexible employers. 

The Ringover findings indicate that while a significant number of companies are pushing for some level of in-office attendance, a complete return to the pre-pandemic model isn’t universally desired. Even managers have been laissez-faire about actively enforcing RTO, as long as their employees keep it quiet.

The hybrid sweet spot

There seems to be a natural meeting point between employee preferences and employer demands, which is good news. The survey found a surprising overlap:

  • 71.6% of employees are comfortable with a hybrid model, favouring two to three days in the office.
  • 74.7% of respondents reported their employers requesting the same: two to three days of in-office work.

This suggests that the hybrid model, with a mix of remote and in-person work, is becoming the new normal, and the expectation of days in the office is largely agreed by both employers and employees.

Perks and pay

Financial incentives play the biggest role, naturally, in enticing employees back into the office. The Ringover survey identified that 48% of respondents would come to the office more often in return for a salary raise of around £5,000 to £10,000. The employee-sponsored commute desired by 83% of respondents would in effect be a significant pay rise, especially for London workers contending with high transport costs.

US companies have already begun offering up to £17,000 more annually for in-person workers. That’s an increase of more than 33% compared to fully in-person roles last year. Notably, men were slightly more swayed by salary increases than women (53% vs 46%). 

But beyond financial incentives, here’s what other employee benefits the survey found could potentially sway the remaining employees to spend more time in the office:

1. On-site gym or wellness facilities

In a close second place to a fully-funded commute, 77.1% of respondents valued access to on-site gym or wellness facilities. This perk caters to a growing desire for health and well-being in the workplace, and can offset the potential drawbacks of a sedentary office job.

2. More social time with co-workers

Social connection also plays a significant role. With 76% of respondents valuing more social time with co-workers, the return to the office offers an opportunity to rekindle friendships and build rapport with colleagues. This is especially important for team building and fostering a positive work culture in the long-term.

3. Increased charitable contributions by their employer

The survey also highlighted a surprising perk: corporate social responsibility. 75.7% of respondents found this factor appealing, suggesting that employees appreciate companies that align with their values and give back to the community. This can contribute to a stronger sense of purpose and a more positive association with the workplace.

4. A four-day working week with in-office days

Finally, the concept of a compressed working week with in-office days holds appeal for many. 74.1% of respondents expressed interest in a four-day working week with designated office days. This offers a potential win-win scenario, allowing employees to enjoy a longer weekend while still maintaining some in-person collaboration during the working week.


Inevitably, some employees who are wedded to their remote working lifestyle will remain adamantly opposed to returning to the office under any circumstances. But the Ringover survey suggests a willingness to compromise among plenty of the workforce.  

The key takeaway? Employees value the flexibility and work-life balance offered by remote work. But they also recognise the benefits of in-person interaction and collaboration.  

Companies that can offer a flexible, well-equipped office environment alongside remote work opportunities are likely to be most successful in attracting and retaining talent.

Written by:
Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 14 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.

Leave a comment

Leave a reply

We value your comments but kindly requests all posts are on topic, constructive and respectful. Please review our commenting policy.

Back to Top