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The hybrid work dilemma

Hybrid work dilemma: 46% of professionals threaten job switch over increased in-office days

  • 46% of professionals will look for a new job if they were asked to work in the office more
  • 1 in 5 employers want to increase number of days in the office
  • 47% of professionals cite long commutes as a key deterrent to spending more days in office
  • Two-fifths of professionals think decisions regarding hybrid & flexible working arrangements is the number one issue influencing workplaces in 2024
  • Over half of professionals only plan to go into the office more to meet employer needs

46% of US professionals would look for new employment if asked to increase their in-office workdays - this contrasts with the preferences of employers, with one in five expressing a desire for more in-office presence.

A survey by KPMG indicates that 55% of CEOs envision in-office as the go-to office environment in 3 years’ time. Despite this, the Robert Walters 2024 salary survey highlights that hybrid-working continues to rank among the top three benefits desired by professionals across all fields.

Mae Mendoza, Head of Robert Walters Austin comments:

“The pandemic not only opened the door to hybrid-working but made it a mainstay in many companies. It also proved that there just isn’t a one-size-fits-all option when it comes to ways of working and keeping productivity levels up across a workforce.

“Leaders attempting to implement a full return-to-office are quickly going to run into trouble – as it’s clear that many professionals won’t readily give up the flexible working routines that they’ve spent the last 3-4 years getting comfortable with.”

“Our research shows that gone are the days where employers competed for talent on salary alone – so having a clearly defined hybrid working model will be a key ‘benefit’ to leverage for candidate attraction and retention this year, particularly where hiring budgets remain stringent.”

Full RTO not expected – yet

While one in five employers want to see their employees in the office more, 79% have said they would not issue a full return-to-office yet, even if it wouldn’t impact retention.

Mae comments: “There is a balance to strike with flexible working. If more days in office are what companies want – the onus is on senior leadership teams to make the office the heart of their work community and inform professionals of what can be gained by returning.”

Office deterrents

The poll found that the main factors deterring professionals from spending more days in office were long commutes (47%), disruption to their work-life balance (32%), distractions at work (14%) and associated costs (7%).

Mae adds: “The pandemic brought to light some of the benefits of working from home. As the world slowed down, we discovered the untapped potential of that commute time, realizing it could be transformed into more productive work, dedicated hours for personal hobbies, quality family time, or simply a chance to rest.”

Primary issue in the 2024 workplace

39% of professionals stated that ‘changes to hybrid-working’ will have the biggest impact on workplaces this year – before advancements in generative AI (31%), effective leadership (21%) and changes to rewards & benefits schemes (9%).

Mae comments: “Whilst our research indicates that professionals are anticipating changes to the way we work this year, hybrid-working isn’t something employers can just take away without offering some incentive or compromise.”

Office attractions

While one in five professionals stated that coming into the office more improved collaboration with peers, the most prominent reason for people coming into the office more was simply because they were asked to do so by their employer (52%). Just 10% said that it helps with their weekly routine.

Mae adds: “Working in the office has clear advantages – you can interact more with your colleagues, contribute to team projects and be more visible. You can also learn new skills, get guidance from senior staff and feel more engaged with the workplace culture.

“However, these benefits may not outweigh the drawbacks for some, who may prefer to have more flexibility, autonomy and comfort in their work environment.”

“To retain employees and encourage more in-office attendance, employers should offer benefits that better reflect their needs and preferences.”

Mae Mendoza shares her top five ways to get employees back into the office:

1.       Flexible schedules - offer flexible work hours or compressed work weeks that allow employees to balance their work and personal life more effectively.

2.       Enhanced office amenities – invest in improving the office environment to make it more comfortable and beneficial to work. This could include ergonomic furniture, quiet workspaces, recreational areas, and quality on-site food and beverage options.

3.       Assisting with employee spend – things like subsidizing travel and providing breakfast or lunch are low-cost incentives that make a huge difference to professionals’ daily costs and budget.

4.       Upscale mentorship/training opportunities – having mentorship programs or additional training opportunities in the office provides a significant draw for professionals looking to upskill.

5.       Organize collaborative sessions or interactive Q&As with senior figures – having a more open and communicative culture can be a big draw for professionals returning to the office.


About Robert Walters

With more than 4,300 people in 31 countries, Robert Walters Group deliver recruitment consultancy, staffing, recruitment process outsourcing and managed services across the globe. From traditional recruitment and staffing to end-to-end talent management, our consultants are experts at matching highly skilled people to permanent, contract and interim roles across all professional disciplines, including; Accounting & Finance, Banking & Financial Services, Engineering, Human Resources, Information Technology, Legal, Sales & Marketing, Secretarial & Support, Supply Chain & Procurement. www.robertwaltersgroup.com

For media enquiries contact:                        

Laura O’Flynn

Marketing Manager, North America 

E: laura.oflynn@robertwalters.com

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