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A Shift In Power And A Return To Office

Popular employee benefits may wither in face of a possible recession

Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra
Return To Office

There is an unfortunate reality happening in the mortgage industry right now. Layoffs are rampant, whole divisions of companies are closing and some mortgage companies are even shuttering due to volatile market conditions. This means that there is now a growing pool of talent looking for jobs in an industry that is rapidly shrinking. And suddenly, in a market where employees have held the upper hand for a significant amount of time, employers may suddenly find themselves able to take back the power.

With the tides turning from an employees’ market to an employers’ market, this will certainly lead to employees losing some of the perks they came to expect like higher wages, better benefits, and for many companies, the much contested, work-from-home flexibility. So, with a potential recession looming, is fully remote work about to become a thing of the past?

Calling Loyalty Into Question

There is no doubt that employers have been doing a delicate dance with their employees regarding coaxing them back into the office post-covid. Some companies even found that when they tried to mandate a return to the office and call their employees’ bluff that folks were more than willing to walk away because work-from-home or hybrid work opportunities were in abundance. But especially in the mortgage industry as more and more challenges arise, and employees see that their job may potentially be in jeopardy, they no longer have the choice to walk away or draw a hard line in the sand.

Back to office

And it seems that employers are recognizing that they may finally have the upper hand and are starting to at least push for more of a hybrid work situation, with at least a few days required in the office. “According to The Society for Human Resource Management, before the pandemic, about 10% of the U.S. workforce worked fully remotely and by the end of 2024, they believe the number of fully remote workers will go to about 20%” ( While a minimal increase, this means that 80% of workers will still be in the office in some capacity, maybe to the chagrin of employees.

The data is already showing significant trends indicating this push for the return to the office. “As of mid-April, 38% of Manhattan office workers were at a physical workplace on an average weekday, but only 8% were in the office five days a week” according to The Partnership for New York City. “Even without taking into account the prospect of a recession and less plentiful jobs, it is forecasting that return to office rates will increase after Labor Day, with nearly half (49%) of workers in the office on an average weekday in September” (


This is essentially a push from employers requesting their employees to meet them halfway and show greater loyalty and buy-in to the organization simply by showing up. What that looks like seems to vary from organization to organization based on how many days employees need to be in office, if certain days are mandated, and how much flexibility is allocated, but it will be interesting to see how the dynamic continues to shift as the industry deals with ongoing volatility, increasing layoffs, and more mortgage companies running into financial issues.

Does Being In Office Equal Greater Productivity?

It’s strange to think that after years of successfully working remotely an employee’s work ethic or loyalty to a company could be called into question because they don’t want to go into the office full-time or even part-time maybe, simply because they enjoy the balance that work-from-home grants them, but that is the situation that many employees now face. Especially for those in the mortgage industry that have very active roles and find themselves on the road or outside of their offices anyways, it’s strange to think that being in the office equates to being productive or being a good employee.

It may be a lingering antiquated way of thinking, but employers do need to consider how life has changed since the pandemic hit and what employees have become accustomed to, and that it isn’t as simple as snapping their fingers or setting a date and simply going back into the office full time. Strides have been made with technology that has made it significantly easier for employees to be successful working from home and employees have truly appreciated the work-life balance that comes with working from home, even if that is with a hybrid schedule.

Also, employers should consider how their ability to find talented candidates has expanded by being able to hire remote workers rather than being limited to hiring employees that must be in the office five days a week. Especially for companies in the mortgage industry that are in the unique position to be looking to hire right now, there is probably no better time to try and find some top talent because of the layoffs that have occurred. If companies are willing to also consider remote working options, they could truly have the cream of the crop to choose from. If there is anything the pandemic should have taught companies, it’s that being in office didn’t equal being productive, and that being at home didn’t equal laziness.

As we go into this next economic cycle, it will be interesting to see how both employers and employees navigate the hybrid work situation and ultimately figure out how to strike an appropriate balance.

This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine October 2022 issue.
Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra

Erica LaCentra is Chief Marketing Officer for RCN Capital.

Published on
Oct 03, 2022
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