2023’s State of the Workplace Survey: In-Office Workers Tell-All

Sara Korolevich
September 12, 2023
8 min read

Checkr surveyed in-office American workers to track their current feelings about their status versus those who still worked primarily from home. We asked in-office workers their thoughts on the relative value of in-office work compared to remote work; which group should be considered first for promotions; whether management trusted in-office workers more than those that worked remotely; thoughts about fair pay for the perk of remote work; and much more.

Working from home (WFH) was a rarity until the COVID-19 pandemic drove huge numbers of office workers to home workspaces. While there were challenges, remote work was mostly considered a success as workers and companies quickly adapted and, for a while, many thought the working world had been forever altered in favor of the home office.

However, as the pandemic waned and COVID-19 became less of a daily threat, many companies decided it was time to return to business as usual: back to the office. Recently, more companies are calling all workers back to the office, while others are implementing hybrid or flexible working environments (such as Checkr).

The advent of remote work has ignited a dynamic push-pull relationship between employees and employers, fundamentally reshaping the employment landscape. On one hand, employees are advocating for increased flexibility and autonomy, seeking to untether themselves from the traditional confines of the office. The allure of better work-life balance, reduced commuting stress, and the ability to tailor their work environment to their preferences has led to a strong demand for remote work options. On the other side of the spectrum, employers are navigating the challenges of maintaining team cohesion, monitoring productivity, and fostering a sense of belonging in a distributed workforce.

Hybrid models that blend in-person and remote work are emerging as a compromise, as both parties recognize the advantages of striking a balance between the convenience of remote work and the benefits of in-person interaction. This push-pull dynamic is propelling organizations to reevaluate their approach to work, leading to a transformative shift in how work is conceptualized and executed in the modern era.

With many workers back in the office for most of the work week, we wanted to know how in-office workers felt about their status versus those who still worked primarily from home.

To find out, Checkr surveyed 3,500 American adults employed in the office at least four days per week to uncover thoughts about in-office vs. remote work and to help us understand the mindset of in-office personnel regarding pay, promotions, relative value, and in-office vs. remote productivity.

Companies can reference this data as they craft recruiting, hiring, and retention strategies and policies that wisely include the consideration of employee preferences related to remote and in-office work. Ultimately, this report may assist employers in the creation of a more attractive environment for top talent, while aiding in better retention of their current workforce.

Summary of key findings

  • 74% said they agreed or were on the fence about having an advantage over remote workers regarding advancements and promotions.
  • 80% said if they were forced to work remotely full-time they would accept or ask for a hybrid arrangement.
  • 75% preferred to work from the office or are torn between the office and remote work; just 24% preferred working remotely.
  • 72% agreed or were on the fence when asked if they should be paid more than remote employees for the same role.
  • 45% would take a pay cut for a full-time remote job.
  • 56% agreed or were on the fence about the notion that remote workers are less motivated and not as productive as in-office workers.
  • 71% agreed or were on the fence about the perception that in-office workers are more valuable to a company than remote workers.
  • 44% believed they should be first in line for promotions over remote workers.
  • 48% agreed that management trusted in-office employees more than remote employees; another 28% remained undecided on this issue.

Workplace arrangement and preferences

First, we wanted to reiterate that only adult workers who were in the office at least four days per week were asked to participate in this survey.

Workers who had returned to the office could be there because of personal preference or by a company mandate. Therefore, we wanted to know if workers were in the office by choice or if their employer had forced them to return.

  • 42% told us they had never worked remotely and therefore had never experienced the perks of working remotely
  • 35% said they had decided to return to the office on their own
  • 23% reported they were forced to return to the office at least four days per week

Continuing with the basics, we asked respondents if they preferred working in the office rather than working from home.

  • More than half (56%) agreed or strongly agreed that working in the office was preferable to remote work
  • 19% had no strong feelings either way
  • 25% of in-office workers surveyed said that they preferred the WFH vibe

With a strong job market still dominating the employment scene, employees are still looking for better opportunities. We wondered if current in-office employees were actively looking for remote work. Not so much, as less than half of our respondents (42%) reported that they were actively or even currently searching for remote roles at other companies. 43% said that they definitely were not applying for remote jobs at other companies. A solid minority of 15% simply stated that they would never even apply for a remote job and that they really liked their current office environment.

Workplace policies change quickly as managers and supervisors are continuously looking for anything that might result in greater employee productivity. We were intrigued about what would happen if managers told employees that they suddenly had the ability to be fully remote. What would in-office employees do?

How would in-office employees react to being moved into a remote role?

Data from Checkr proprietary survey of 3,500 American office workers

80% would either accept immediately or negotiate a hybrid arrangement, while 9% said they would start looking for a new job, 8% said that they would immediately decline the opportunity to work remotely, and just 3% would quit immediately.

Next, let’s take a look at in-office employees’ feelings about compensation and career advancement.

Views on compensation and advancement

Remote work was uncommon and possibly considered a perk awarded to high-performing employees, but that changed during the pandemic when mandatory WFH policies were implemented. Now that many employees are heading back to the office, we wondered if in-office employees thought that those who enjoyed WFH should be paid less since they didn’t have to commute and were under less direct company scrutiny. If in-office workers really wanted to transition to remote work, would they take a pay cut to do so? And if they would take a pay cut to enjoy full-time remote work, how much less pay would be appropriate

Feelings were strong on this issue as a significant 45% said they would take a pay cut to transition to remote work.

Would in-office workers take a pay cut for full-time remote opportunities?

Data from Checkr proprietary survey of 3,500 American office workers

Should in-office workers be paid more than remote workers if the role or position were the same? A huge number (72%) of in-office workers agreed or were on the fence that they should be paid more than remote workers while only 28% felt that in-office workers should not be paid more than those working remotely.

We surmised that some in-office workers might think they should be on top of the promotion list because their in-office work might make them more visible to supervisors, and we were correct as 69% agreed or were on the fence about in-office workers receiving promotion preference. On the other side, just 31% disagreed.

One reason to prefer in-office work is visibility. While weekly Zoom project status meetings are commonplace, we questioned whether workers felt that being in the office gave them a definite advantage over remote workers as access to supervisors and managers was enhanced in the office. We asked if in-office workers thought they had a major advantage over remote employees regarding advancement because they felt their boss valued in-office employees more than remote employees.

  • 69% agreed or were on the fence about having some advantage due to being in-office
  • 26% disagreed or strongly disagreed that in-office workers had an advantage regarding future promotions because they worked in the office instead of from home

Feelings toward remote coworkers

While some companies are satisfying workers’ desire for flexibility by implementing a hybrid in-office/WFH arrangement, some employers are mandating a full five-day office return. Would workers who had been forced to return to the office be jealous of those who still enjoyed the remote experience?

  • 55% of in-office workers agreed or were on the fence about being jealous of friends and/or co-workers who were allowed to work remotely
  • 45% disagreed or strongly disagreed that they were jealous of remote workers

We’ve all seen stories about remote workers taking two jobs and managing to navigate both of them, thereby collecting two salaries; that possibility caused bosses/supervisors to naturally worry about the effect remote work had on general productivity. But what did current in-office workers think? Were people who worked remotely less motivated and less productive than in-office workers?

When asked, just 44% disagreed that remote workers were slacking at home. Conversely, 56% agreed or were on the fence that remote workers were indeed less productive than their in-office counterparts, and just under one-quarter (24%) didn’t care either way.

Do in-office employees lack respect for their remote coworkers?

Data from Checkr proprietary survey of 3,500 American office workers

Working in an office often comes with a lot of perks. There may be unlimited snacks, free coffee, catered lunches, and in some cases access to child care and on-site nursing staff. But in addition, the ability to have a quick meeting with a boss or supervisor and the chance to get questions answered in person rather than by email is cherished by some in-office workers.

On the management side, company supervisors like knowing where their employees are and what they’re working on, and a quick stroll through the office could supply lots of information about employee productivity. Therefore, we questioned if in-office workers felt they were more valuable to the company than remote workers because of the in-person aspects of work that remote employees were unable to participate in.

71% agreed or were on the fence that they were more valuable to the company, while 29% disagreed that in-office workers were more valuable because of the activities they were able to participate in.

Next up, we wondered if in-office workers might think that management would naturally trust them more than remote workers when important project tasks were involved. This was confirmed as a whopping 75% agreed or were on the fence on this issue, while just 25% disagreed that management would favor in-office employees.

Next, we’ll take a look at culture and collaboration.

Company culture and collaboration

Most candidates applying for a job in today’s environment are asked about collaboration and how they relate to both in-office and remote employees. It follows that we would ask questions about company culture and the ability of remote workers to positively participate in and influence general company culture. Is it good for the company to have remote workers that no one ever sees in person? Are online meetings enough to cement cohesive relationships? Basically, is remote working bad for company growth and success?

Most in-office employees supported their remote counterparts in this case as only 23% strongly agreed or even agreed that remote work was not good for the company. Another 24% didn’t care either way, but a whopping 54% majority strongly disagreed or just disagreed that remote work was detrimental to their company.

Rather than guessing at why remote employees were so attached to their working arrangements, we thought we would ask their in-office counterparts what they thought the attraction to remote work was and we found that many in-office workers believe family and childcare are major factors, while smaller groups of in-office employees believe commute times, introversion, motivation, distractions at the office, and other factors are at play.

Why do in-office workers think others choose remote arrangements?

Data from Checkr proprietary survey of 3,500 American office workers

Finally, we wanted to understand the frustration that remote employees could cause regarding communication, scheduling, technical issues, and other aspects of remote work, so we asked how often in-office employees experienced frustration caused by remote workers and/or their communication platforms.

  • More than 51% said they rarely or never had experienced frustration
  • Almost a third (30%) said it sometimes happened
  • Only 18% expressed dissatisfaction at the amount of frustration that occurred when attempting to work with remote employees

The future of remote work vs. the traditional office

The future of work in America is poised to be a dynamic blend of flexibility, technology, and redefined workspaces. The rapid adoption of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally reshaped the traditional office landscape and is expected to have a lasting impact on how Americans work.

Advancements in technology will continue to play a pivotal role. As technology advances, remote work will become more seamless, allowing for the real-time collaboration and communication that supervisors and managers demand. Virtual reality and augmented reality may further revolutionize remote work by creating immersive digital workspaces that replicate the physical office environment.

The standard 9-to-5 workday could undergo a significant transformation. With increased remote work, the focus could shift from rigid schedules to outcome-based performance. This shift could enhance work-life balance and more closely cater to individual productivity rhythms.

Despite these shifts—or perhaps as a result of them—there are many companies that absolutely prefer employees in the office setting. Managers and supervisors like to easily track what employees are doing and remote work can make that a challenge.

While remote work in some form is here to stay, hybrid work models, combining remote and in-person elements, are likely to become the norm for many organizations. This arrangement offers the benefits of both worlds as it fosters both flexibility and face-to-face collaboration, offering options and opportunities for all types of employees

The intent of this report is to increase awareness of workers’ thoughts on these issues, and encourage companies to take them into consideration as it relates to their workplace arrangements.

Companies can harness these data-driven insights to craft remote work and in-office policies that effectively attract and retain top talent. By analyzing employee preferences, organizations can identify which roles are better suited for remote work and which benefit from in-person collaboration. Utilizing surveys and feedback loops, companies can tailor their policies to align with the diverse needs and preferences of their workforce. Additionally, tracking key indicators such as engagement levels, productivity trends, and overall job satisfaction can inform policy adjustments over time.

In the end, striking the right balance between remote and in-office options, while focusing on outcomes rather than hours worked, can create an environment that appeals to top talent seeking both flexibility and meaningful, collaborative work experiences.


All data found within this report is derived from a survey by Checkr conducted online via survey platform Pollfish from August 9-12, 2023. In total, 3,500 adult American employees were surveyed and screened to ensure they currently work in a physical office space at least four days per week. The respondents were found via Pollfish’s employment screening filters. This survey was conducted over a three-day span, and all respondents were asked to answer all questions as truthfully as possible and to the best of their knowledge and abilities.


The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

About the author

Sara Korolevich serves as checkr.com’s editor and content manager. In this role, she produces educational resources for employers on a broad range of screening topics, including background check compliance and best practices. She also writes about Checkr’s company and product news to keep customers updated and informed.

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