Be the Boss

88% of employers are offering return-to-office incentives―here's how to negotiate yours

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Workers who spent the pandemic working from home are slowly making their way back to the office by decree of company policy, and sometimes even by choice. The majority of employers, 66%, currently require employees to work from the office, according to a September 2022 survey of 1,000 American business leaders.

When it comes to convincing those who'd still prefer remote work to coming back, most employers are trying to make it worth their while. A majority of companies, 88%, are currently offering incentives like catered meals and commuter benefits to get workers to return, according to

"Companies cannot lose a chunk of their workforce," says Stacie Haller, a career expert at, about these incentives. In today's tight hiring market, she says, replacing quitters is still difficult and expensive.

That being the case, can workers whose companies are asking them to come back take this as an opportunity to negotiate their arrangement? CNBC Make It reached out to experts to find out.

'What are the most important three things?'

Experts say it's a good time to negotiate your work arrangement if coming back to the office will impact your productivity.

Is it important for you, as a parent, to have more flexibility in the day? Are you dealing with a disorder like ADHD that makes working in the office harder? Is the cost of commuting going to significantly impact your take-home pay?

"You've got to figure out what's most important to you," says Julie Bauke, founder and chief career strategist with The Bauke Group.

"What are the most important three things that you really want to have?" she says. If there are only one or two changes you'd want, that's fine, too. But any more than three can get irritating for a boss. Figure those out, consider how having those changes will make your job easier and bring them up to your boss.

Say, 'let's do it as a pilot'

As you enter negotiation with your company, they may come back to you with an offer slightly different from what you've asked for, and in the end, you both will have to compromise.

But if your boss or company is hesitant to make any changes whatsoever based on what you've asked, offer to make some of those changes on a trial period. Say, "let's do it as a pilot," says Bauke. "Let's try it, 90 days, six months. Let's see what it looks like."

"Even those organizations where they're saying, 'everybody back in the office,' there are all these side deals being made," she says. So offer to test out some of your asks and monitor your productivity level throughout the trial period.

'Companies can't afford to lose good people'

The bottom line when it comes to asking for these kinds of changes: You have to be at least meeting, if not exceeding your goals at work.

"If you are in a position where you're doing well in your job, and you're exceeding expectations and you're a valuable employee to the organization," says Haller, "the risk is very low that they're going to want to replace you or even have the ability to replace you."

But if you aren't performing, your company's going to have less incentive to want to keep you around and help make accommodations for you.

"The crux of it is the talent in the marketplace," says Haller. "Companies can't afford to lose good people that are producing."

Check out:

The No. 1 perk that will bring Gen Z and millennials into the office, according to Microsoft

I work remotely, but my co-workers are returning to the office—here's what career experts told me to do

Going back to the office? Do these 10 things first to have a stress-free return, experts say

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