man speaking (l&r) farmers insurance sign (c)

Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock @matthewlayson/TikTok (Licensed)

‘No way I’m going back in the office’: Farmers Insurance told workers they’d be WFH permanently. Now they need to come in 3 days a week

'When you tell your employees it's a permanent change, they're gonna act like it's a permanent change.'


Braden Bjella


Posted on Jun 28, 2023   Updated on Jul 1, 2023, 1:16 pm CDT

The return to in-office work has not gone well. As detailed by Entrepreneur, companies that have forced workers back into the office are currently facing a litany of issues ranging from employee dissatisfaction to difficulty hiring.

“Unispace finds that nearly half (42%) of companies that mandated office returns witnessed a higher level of employee attrition than they had anticipated,” writes author Gleb Tsipursky. “And almost a third (29%) of companies enforcing office returns are struggling with recruitment.”

For the companies who are considering returning to the office, the outlook isn’t great.

“According to the same Greenhouse report, a staggering 76% of employees stand ready to jump ship if their companies decide to pull the plug on flexible work schedules,” Tsipursky details. “Moreover, employees from historically underrepresented groups are 22% more likely to consider other options if flexibility goes out the window.”

Even though the data shows that ending remote work will bring issues for companies, that hasn’t stopped several major companies from trying. One such company is Farmers, which captured headlines and sparked reactions across the internet after reversing its remote work policy and forcing employees to come into the office 3 days a week.

Matthew Layson (@matthewlayson), a TikTok user who makes videos about insurance, also posted on the topic, generating debate in the process.

@matthewlayson #remotework #workfromhome #quietquitting #turnover ♬ original sound – Matthew Layson

In a video with over 14,000 views, Layson lays out the Farmers story, including the response from the company’s new CEO, Raul Vargas, who allegedly told employees, “We read all your comments. We understand and we appreciate them. But we’re still moving forward.”

As Layson notes in the video, numerous employees have voiced their concerns about returning to the office.

Several employees said that, when they were hired, they were told the position would be entirely remote and that this remote nature would be enduring. This led them to make decisions like moving out of state.

“I sold my house and moved closer to my grandkids,” said an employee quoted by the Wall Street Journal. “So sad that I made a huge financial decision based on a lie.”

Vargas claimed that in-office work will promote “collaboration, creativity and innovation,” though it is presently unclear how much time he himself plans to spend in-office. 

As many employers have returned to in-person work due in part to their ownership of office space, there is a possibility that this move is related to the company’s lease on its building in the San Fernando Valley. 

Back in 2013, the company leased a 274,000-square-foot space for their business until 2027. As the lease is still valid, and many employees are remote, there is a possibility that the company is simply seeking a return on its investment in office space.

Regardless of the reason, the company claims that it will be attempting to ease the transition for employees.

“A Farmers spokeswoman said the new system will include about 60% of the company’s U.S. workforce of about 22,000 employees,” the Wall Street Journal article states. “She pointed out that the announced policy wouldn’t go into effect until September, giving workers three months to adjust and make arrangements.”

Back on TikTok, users shared their thoughts about the transition away from remote work.

“If there is documentation of remote work being permanent I would hire a lawyer,” wrote a user.

“this is why I accepted a remote position that doesnt have any offices within 50 miles,” added another.

“I would be looking for a new job,” claimed a third. “no way I’m going back in the office.”

“As a recruiter.. the number of people I’m seeing with this experience is CRAZY,” alleged an additional TikToker.

The Daily Dot reached out to Farmers via media contact page and Layson via Instagram direct message.

Update 1:14pm CT, Jul. 7, 2023: In an Instagram direct message exchange with the Daily Dot, Layson shared his thoughts about returning to the office.

“In general, I think, going back in office is a very situational decision, that should vary a lot from company to company, team to team,” he said. “I think it’s stupid to say that everyone must be work from home now, or everyone must be in office. I think those kinds of decisions should be made at a more granular level, depending on the needs of the team and their capabilities.”

“At our insurance agency, we decided to go hybrid, because that serves our team best,” he explained. “…But we have had two situations in the past year where employees had family medical emergencies out of state, and they really wanted to be there for their family. And one of the things I love about small businesses, we just did what made sense—let them work while they’re out of state, taking care of their family so they don’t have to use their vacation or sick time for those situations. But that takes having a couple of conversations and not making one policy that everyone must adhere to. It’s more work and more coordination, but our employees are happier and that matters.”

He then offered his thoughts on mass callbacks into the office and the Farmers situation specifically.

“The issue with doing a mass call back to the office is first off, losing talent. Top talent knows they have other options and if that remote work style is important they’ll leave,” he detailed. “Second issue is trust in leadership. How do you believe your company when they say one thing and then a year later do something completely different? When people don’t trust their leaders, they aren’t focused on the work, they won’t be honest with what they want, and good communication starts to deteriorate.”

“Third is it tarnishes the brand,” he concluded. “The average person doesn’t trust insurance companies — as a matter of fact, the most common comment I get on TikTok is that insurance is a scam. If that’s the public’s perception and then they see this story, what will a Farmers customer think? They will think even more they can’t trust their insurer, and all an insurance company sells is a promise — you need trust to sell a promise.”

We crawl the web so you don’t have to.
Sign up for the Daily Dot newsletter to get the best and worst of the internet in your inbox every day.
Share this article
*First Published: Jun 28, 2023, 10:21 am CDT