Hybrid work has become the new norm, but for how long? Many CEOs are planning to bring their employees back to the office, even though hybrid work models have been successful and are preferred by most employees. 

How CEOs and employees view hybrid work is misaligned. There are opposing views in many organizations. So, there could be a lot of give and take in the coming years as CEOs grapple with their desire to return to pre-pandemic operations and recruit and retain top talent. 

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Below our executive search experts in Toronto look at a recent study comparing these competing views of hybrid work and employees’ desire for workplace flexibility:

CEOs’ views on return to office

According to the recent KPMG 2023 CEO Outlook survey, the majority of CEOs expect their employees to return to the office, ending hybrid work. The survey found:

  • 64% of CEOs believe there will be a full return to office in three years
  • 87% of CEOs are likely to reward employees who make an effort to come into the office with favourable assignments, raises or promotions

There is a clear view by CEOs that they plan to return to the pre-pandemic way of operations. However, leaders need to consider employee preferences or risk potential pushback. 

“As organizations continue to roll out their return-to-office plans, it is crucial that leaders take a long-term view that embraces the employee value proposition and encompasses the considerations and needs of employees to ensure that talent is nurtured and supported,” says KPMG. 

What do employees want? Flexibility!

CEO’s preference for the return to normal office practices is interesting because hybrid work has proven to work. It’s also clear that employees value hybrid work and flexibility. 

According to a BCG survey:

  • 9 out of 10 employees consider flexible work options as important when looking for a job. 
  • Employees are 2.5 times more likely to consider leaving if they are not happy with their work model 

It’s clear this is top of mind for employees and they will prefer organizations that offer better work-life balance and flexibility.

Hybrid work models and flexibility are not always the same

There is an interesting distinction to make – hybrid work and flexibility are sometimes different. They are not interchangeable and can mean different things. 

For example, a rigid hybrid model where employees are required to be in the office on certain days does not offer great flexibility. Whereas a model where employees work from the office but can work from home occasionally or flex their office hours offers flexibility. 

This distinction could be an important one to make as more CEOs mandate the return to the office in the future. How leadership frames a return to work could affect their employee’s willingness to return to the office. It’s not just about working from home. It’s about flexibility and balance. 


More Insights on Recruitment and Executive Search in Toronto

The Research Is In: Hybrid Working Model Is the Most Effective

Is Hybrid Work Leaving Gen Z Behind in Their Careers?

4 Steps to Run a Home/In-Person Hybrid Workplace the Right Way

Randy Quarin Executive Search

Randy Quarin

Randy co-founded IQ PARTNERS in 2001 and currently operates as a Senior Partner, focusing on business development within executive search, media, and sales recruitment. His accomplishments include building over a dozen digital media sales teams for digital start-ups, publishers, and mobile app developers. He has also helped launch an international smartphone manufacturer from the ground up, building its entire hardware, software, and sales teams.

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