photo of empty office with computers
Empty offices are some executives’ worst nightmare.
Empty offices are some executives’ worst nightmare.

Knowledge workers love working at home, but their bosses want them back in the office. The big disconnect could mean that the great resignation leading to a surge in entrepreneurship is likely to continue into 2022.

The desire for flexibility is one reason people are looking to resign from their current positions, according to a  survey of 10,569 knowledge workers in the U.S., Australia, France, Germany, Japan and the U.K. between July 28 and Aug. 10. The report was issued by Future Forum, a consortium from San Francisco-based Slack.

Seventy-six percent of employees want flexibility in where they work, and 93% want flexibility in when they work. “People working fully remotely feel two times better about work-life balance than those working full time in the office,” according to the report.

Meanwhile, 44% of executives want to work in the office five days a week and 75% of executives want to work in the office three to five days a week. “Employees are more than four times more likely than executives to want to work remotely full time,” the report indicates. Still, a majority of executives are not including their employees in the post-pandemic planning conversations.

More than half of knowledge workers are looking for a new job in the next year, the survey found. And the number is higher for employees who are unsatisfied with the flexibility of their schedules (57% versus 71%). 

The report contains several takeaways for founders. For company owners that want to keep employees, the survey offers lessons around the value of flexibility — it’s extremely valued by knowledge workers — and the surprising positive difference the virtual environment had for Black knowledge workers.

“Going virtual levels the playing field,” said Ella Washington, organizational psychologist and faculty member at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and founder of Ellavate Solutions, in the report “…Because everything is virtual, there’s less of this informal chatter we had in person. So that’s going to make anybody feel more like they belong, especially folks that are not usually in those conversations.”

  • The share of Black respondents agreeing with the statement: “I value the relationship I have with my co workers” has risen from 48% to 76%. 
  • The share of Black respondents agreeing with the statement: “I am treated fairly at work” has risen from 47% to 73%. 
  • The share of Black respondents agreeing with the statement: “Management is Responses for other demographics plateaued from last year, according to the report.

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The study was administered by Qualtrics, and did not target Slack users. Future Forum defines a knowledge worker as someone who works with data, analyzes information or thinks creatively” and is executive management, senior management, middle management, junior management, senior staff or a skilled office worker.

White men are up to 12% more likely than Black men and white or Black women to value relationships with coworkers, agree that they are treated fairly at work and  feel their manager is supportive when they need help, according to the report. They’re also 19% more likely to say they’re empowered to share their perspectives when they disagree with decisions made by leadership.

Working fathers continue to have a better employee experience than working mothers, especially on work-life balance and work-related stress. 

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“If leaders proceed without listening to their employees and establish policies colored by their overly rosy view of in-office work from the executive lens, then they run the risk of their number-one concern coming true—and inciting turnover within their organizations,” according to the report.

This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit and connect with and