Hybrid Work: Fad or Future?

by Mike Hunter

While many U.S. professionals are embracing hybrid work arrangements, new research from talent solutions firm Robert Half, “The Future of Hybrid Work,” shows a majority of companies anticipate a full return to the office once the pandemic ends. According to a survey of more than 2,800 senior managers in the U.S., 71% of respondents said they will require their teams to be on-site full time once COVID-19-related restrictions completely lift. Far fewer will allow employees to follow a hybrid schedule, where they can divide time between the office and another location (16%) or give staff the complete freedom to choose where they work (12%).

Putting this in perspective for Phoenix, regional director Travis Laird says, “Offering employees flexibility is a low-cost way to create a positive workplace culture and employee experience, which are central to recruiting and retaining top talent today. Our recent survey looked at the future of hybrid work, and which cities would likely embrace hybrid work in a post pandemic work environment once restrictions lift. In Phoenix, 73% of managers said they would require workers fully in the office, while only 12% said they would have a hybrid model of in office and remote. Fourteen percent of Phoenix managers said they would allow workers to decide. 

“We are seeing many Phoenix businesses move to a hybrid work structure. We are a progressive city, but these figures are still surprising where almost three in four companies are expecting workers back in the office full time.” 

Regarding the adoption of a hybrid work model, Laird adds, “It really helps employees with the autonomy and work-life integration they want and expect today. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to hybrid work. Each situation is unique and requires careful consideration. However, local businesses must continue shifting the way they work by being more flexible to the hybrid work needs of their teams, especially in our current times of talent shortages and workers quitting at record rates. With effective communication; trust in their teams; and a realistic, balanced workload, employers will see how a hybrid model will only strengthen and grow their business and teams.” 

Robert Half’s research indicates there is a significant risk that workers may walk away from jobs, which employers should be aware of when they consider mandating a full return to the office. Research conducted by Robert Half this past April reveals nearly half of employees (49%) prefer a hybrid arrangement, and about one in three professionals (34%) currently working from home due to the pandemic would look for a new job if required to be in the office five days a week. In addition, a separate survey finds 43% of workers feel much more productive when remote versus in the office.

“When it comes to hybrid work, there’s a disconnect between what managers prefer and what employees expect,” says Robert Half senior executive director Paul McDonald. “But in this talent-driven market, especially, companies need to prioritize their people and look to the future. Providing flexibility is a low-cost way to create a positive employee experience and inclusive workplace culture.”  

Office Reopening Plans

U.S. employers said they will require their teams to work:

Fully in-office 71%
Hybrid (both in-office and remote) 16%
Where employees decide 12%

Hybrid work hurdles in supporting a dispersed workforce long-term:

Communicating effectively with team members  22%
Trusting employees to get work done  20%
Gauging workloads and helping staff avoid burnout  20%
Effectively recognizing and rewarding employee accomplishments 20%
Finding time for team development  19%

Source: sites.google.com/view/hybridwork


The online surveys were developed by Robert Half and conducted by independent research firms. They include responses from more than 2,800 senior managers in finance, technology, marketing, legal, administrative support, human resources and other areas at companies with 20 or more employees (collected June 4 to July 1, 2021), and more than 2,800 workers 18 years of age or older (collected March 26 to April 15, 2021) in the U.S.

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized talent solutions firm that connects opportunities at great companies with highly skilled job seekers. Robert Half offers contract, temporary and permanent placement solutions and is the parent company of Protiviti®, a global consulting firm.

Did You Know: A new Robert Half survey of 2,800 senior managers, “The Future of Hybrid Work,”  suggests the hybrid work model may go away post-pandemic. Marketing and finance managers (30% and 28% respectively) and large organizations with 1,000 or more employees (30%) are most likely to favor long-term flexibility for their teams.  

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