Return to Office Vs. Hybrid: Trends in Where & How We Work

The questions surrounding returning to the office are still top of mind for many employers and their teams alike. While some companies have opted to remain fully remote, many have returned to a 100% in-office work environment and others have adopted a hybrid approach with employees back at the office at least some of the time. Remote and in-office work both have their benefits and challenges, and organizations are trying to find that happy medium for optimal productivity and culture building.

Corporate Mandates on Return to Office

The main reasons companies want employees back in the office is for in-person collaboration opportunities, as well as building a stronger culture. To accomplish this goal, some companies are continuing to mandate a return to the office, but not all require employees to be there five days per week.

According to CNBC, “While many companies have embraced a hybrid-work environment and aren’t forcing employees back into the office five days a week, they have instituted stricter policies for the time they want workers in the office.” That said, other companies are finding it challenging to enforce a return to office mandate, especially when individuals in high-level positions do not want to comply. Leaders are facing the challenge of doing what they feel is best for the business, but also helping their employees feel engaged and satisfied with their jobs.

Employee Pros and Cons

How do employees feel about going back to the office? According to a recent study by Korn Ferry, 62% of professionals surveyed say their employer is mandating a return to the office, with over a third of these individuals required to be in-office three days per week. Being back in the office does have its perks. Of the survey respondents, 42% said the best part of going back will be socializing with colleagues; 31% say they’ll have improved collaboration in the office; and 21% are simply tired of being at home all the time!

On the other hand, the survey found that 58% of those being forced to return to full-time office work feel the return will have a negative impact on their mental health. Working from home is a more productive path for 84%, and 72% said they’d accept a lower salary if they could work from home. Another poll of 8,000 workers showed that 56% of respondents know someone who has quit because of a return-to-office mandate; and 63% of professionals were willing to accept a pay cut for a remote opportunity.

What Do Candidates Want?

How does this impact recruiting and hiring? Employers offering flexible options have the advantage. A study by Zippia found that 59% of job candidates are more likely to choose an employer that offers remote work opportunities over one that doesn’t. On average, companies see a 12% reduction in turnover when they allow their employees to do at least some remote work.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to workplace locations and flexibility, and the landscape is still changing. No matter where you land on hybrid, remote, or in-office, don’t neglect other critical points for employees like work-life balance, recognition, strong benefits packages, opportunities for professional growth, and a positive company culture. Some studies show that these factors as just as important – or even more important– to workers than where they get their work done.