If RTO (return to work) mandates are driving senior talent away, then where is that talent going and who is replacing them?

I am the senior, top talent. I work from home and will never go back to an office again. I told my immediate manager and anyone else who would listen that if there ever was an RTO mandate enforced on me, I’d quit immediately (like, sign off right that second and never log in again) with no handover. Nothing. That was well over a year ago and I’m still here (and paid 20% more than I was then), so it had no adverse impact on my career.

If RTO were ever enforced, I’d be able to find another remote role in a few weeks. That’s what having rare certifications, expertise in 7+ areas (most IT people have 1-2) and 20+ years of experience gets you. My manager said — accurately — that if I were to go, they’d need to hire several people to fill my role as I handle everything from difficult networking, design and architecture to regulatory compliance and security. I also meet with customers routinely and do very well at this. I can schmooze with customers and then solve problems other IT people have spent weeks failing to fix. This set of skills is very, very, very difficult to find in one IT person.

I’ve worked hard to get where no one can tell me what to do. And no one will about RTO or any damn thing else.