The widespread adoption of hybrid work models has accelerated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, according to a recent KPMG survey, as featured by The Guardian, nearly two-thirds of global CEOs anticipate that employees will revert to a five-day in-office workweek within the next three years.
The KPMG 2023 CEO Outlook survey, which polled over 1,300 chief executives globally, including 150 from the U.K., revealed that 64% of global leaders and 63% of U.K. leaders foresee a complete return to in-office work by 2026. This suggests a growing inclination among executives to revert to pre-pandemic work norms.
Additionally, a significant majority of these leaders (87% globally and 83% in the U.K.) believe that future financial rewards and promotion opportunities might be tied to office attendance.
However, experts like KPGM’s executive Jon Holt believe that there isn’t a universal solution for returning to the office and that such mandates could place a strain on relations between leaders and employees.
Major corporations, especially tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Meta, as well as banks such as Citigroup and Lloyds, have since shifted away from the fully remote work environments that emerged since the pandemic. These firms’ senior executives argue that in-person collaboration enhances creativity, teamwork, and corporate culture, according to The Guardian.
It’s also reported that in-office work might be more beneficial for younger employees, especially those in the Gen Z demographic that started their careers during the pandemic — suggesting the importance of supporting professional growth in new employees.
Despite these CEO perspectives, numerous employee surveys over the past years indicate a strong preference for maintaining workplace flexibility.
Some employees even expressed willingness to resign if forced back to full-time office work. Tina Chander, an employment law expert, cautioned CEOs about the legal implications of mandating full-time office returns and the potential risks of tying promotions and rewards solely to physical presence, according to the Guardian.
While many CEOs envision a return to traditional office settings, the future of work and where it will be done remains a very complex issue. Balancing organizational needs with employee preferences and legal considerations will be important in establishing a successful post-pandemic work environment.