The turn against working from home: Why a hybrid model still has value

New Business - 27th November 2023
Niki Fuchs
2 min read
Published: 20 Feb 2024 10:39

This is largely in opposition to employees’ views, who increasingly prize remote working as an essential workplace provision. Overall, most businesses recognise that hybrid working models have value for both employers and employees and are a key element of keeping their workforce happy, which is essential to drive business performance.

Recently, commercial giants such as Blackstone Group and JPMorgan have re-emphasised their distaste for remote working by initiating strict return-to-office mandates, insisting that remote workers are inefficient and difficult to trust. 1 For C-suite executives, in-office work will likely once again become the norm, with two-thirds of CEOs predicting a full return to the office within the next three years. 2

Notably, these harsher mandates, which have also been pushed by firms such as Amazon and Goldman Sachs, have resulted in a rise in the number of office-based employees. Research from Hays PLC in October revealed that 43% of employees have now returned to the office full-time following these mandates. 3 For the first time since the pandemic, the number of onsite employees now outnumbers their hybrid counterparts. With workers in 2023 13% less reluctant to return to the office compared to 2021, some observers have concluded that popular attitudes are turning against hybrid working. 4

Notably, there is evidence that employees are experiencing the limitations of working from home, with a recent survey by Indeed finding that job satisfaction was lowest amongst primarily remote workers. 5 On all levels, there is a growing acceptance that the physical workplace offers a sense of socialisation, team culture and progress that remote work lacks. It is these in-office benefits that will need to be nurtured and prioritised by businesses looking to mandate their employees’ days in the office.

Yet, as noted by KPMG UK’s chief executive Jon Holt, the return to the office cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach – hybrid working maintains an undeniable appeal, and the extent to which it has reshaped working life cannot be underestimated. 6

Hybrid working cannot be erased overnight, and it will not be – for many employees it is now a fundamental need, rather than an attractive benefit, which shapes even their choice of employers. In a recent survey by Robert Hall, 47% of workers claimed they would reject a role without flexible working provisions, demonstrating that hybrid working has become a vital drawcard for new talent. 7

Despite the limitations, employees value the convenience and self-direction offered by remote working and are willing to defend it. Organisations which fail to recognise this, risk not only drive away new talent, but alienating their existing employees, who have come to value this new way of working. Some businesses still treat hybrid working as a last resort, but this needs to change. Hybrid working is not a compromise, it is a solution, one that benefits employees and employers alike. If businesses wish to enhance their culture and performance, they need to recognise the undeniable benefits of a more structured and consistent implementation of flexible working.