Most bosses think you’ll be back in the office 5 days a week within 3 years

Many companies are enforcing return-to-office policies this fall, with the majority requiring employees to be physically present for three days a week. However, a new study reveals that most CEOs are planning to abandon the hybrid working model once things settle down. According to the research conducted by KPMG, 63% of CEOs anticipate a full return to in-office work by the end of 2026, while only 7% believe that remote work will become the long-term norm.

Interestingly, these CEOs are willing to incentivize their employees to return to the office. Around 90% of the surveyed CEOs intend to reward workers who spend more time in the office with salary raises, promotions, and better assignments. They believe that offering "carrots" instead of punitive measures will be more effective in encouraging employees to embrace the pre-pandemic working style.

However, workers are unlikely to react positively to a full-time return to the office. During the Great Resignation period, companies had to provide flexibility to retain their top talent. Now, with a cooling job market and potential layoffs, the balance of power seems to be shifting back to employers. Nevertheless, ordering everyone back to the office may not sit well with employees who have become accustomed to hybrid work. In fact, a recent Gallup study found that 90% of office workers do not want to return to traditional working methods and would even consider quitting if flexible work arrangements were taken away in the long term.

While CEOs are determined to bring back full-time in-office work, offering a compromise might be a wise approach. Embracing a hybrid working model could be more well-received by employees. KPMG's Jon Holt suggests that some form of hybrid work is likely to remain necessary for attracting and retaining valuable talent.

For those employers who insist on a five-day office work week, providing additional incentives could help persuade employees. Exclusive data from Owl Labs reveals that almost all workers are open to returning to the office if their commuting costs are covered by their companies. In fact, nearly two in five hybrid workers stated that they would be more inclined to voluntarily go to the office if their commuting expenses were taken care of. Company-covered travel expenses topped the list as the most desired perk, followed by free meals and subsidized childcare or eldercare. Employers seeking effective "carrots" to ease the transition back to the office should take note of these preferences.  

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