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Apple, SpaceX, Microsoft return-to-office mandates drove senior talent away

The study (PDF), published this month by University of Chicago and University of Michigan researchers and reported by The Washington Post on Sunday, says:

In this paper, we provide causal evidence that RTO mandates at three large tech companies—Microsoft, SpaceX, and Apple—had a negative effect on the tenure and seniority of their respective workforce. In particular, we find the strongest negative effects at the top of the respective distributions, implying a more pronounced exodus of relatively senior personnel.

Dell, Amazon, Google, Meta, and JPMorgan Chase have tracked employee badge swipes to ensure employees are coming into the office as often as expected. Dell also started tracking VPN usage this week and has told workers who work remotely full time that they can't get a promotion.

Some company leaders are adamant that remote work can disrupt a company's ability to innovate. However, there's research suggesting that RTO mandates aren't beneficial to companies. A survey of 18,000 Americans released in March pointed to flexible work schedules helping mental health. And an analysis of 457 S&P 500 companies in February found RTO policies hurt employee morale and don't increase company value.


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