Should Musk Go Hybrid?

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The Data Says Yes

By now you’ve probably read about Elon Musk’s ultimatum to Tesla employees to return to the office full-time (minimum of 40 hours a week) or resign. If you think this is an indication of things to come, think again.

Some brands, such as Tesla, may be in such high demand for candidates that the company is able to attract and retain enough talent within commuting distance of the office to make a fully in-office policy work. However, most brands are not in the same category as Tesla.

Steve Black, CSO, Topia via Forbes

Research indicates a job market that’s still strong despite the rumblings of a recession, recent layoffs, and some hiring freezes. According to Forbes and Glassdoor economist, Daniel Zhao, the market sectors that are primarily seeing layoffs and freezes are within areas reliant on venture-backed capital, as they can’t readily access funding due to investors currently pulling back. Overall, jobs are in high demand while the labor market remains tight, continuing to give employees an upper hand.

The labor market for places that aren’t impacted by concerns about interest rates or concerns about stock equity—that labor market? It’s still red-hot, going a thousand miles an hour.

Daniel Zhao, Economist, Glassdoor via Forbes

This means people have enough employment options to allow them plenty of room to make discerning decisions about where and how they work. The data is clear that remote and hybrid work options are top considerations when employees look for their next workplace. According to the recent Topia survey:

  • 65% of employees who are forced back into the office full-time say they’re more likely to look for a new job
  • 46% are attracted to jobs that focus on employee well-being
  • 42% want the ability to work from home when they want

Even with the chance of a recession, which would do little to impact the overall job/resource ratio, forcing staff back into the office full-time is ill-advised. Not only do companies run the risk of losing talent and becoming disabled from acquiring new, but they’re also setting up an adversarial relationship with the employees who remain. A more employee-centric and humanistic approach to flex work is the way to go. What we’re seeing in the market now is hybrid schedules with only 2 to 3 days max in the office

A recession means fewer new job opportunities for workers, but the labor market currently has nearly two job openings for every unemployed person, giving workers significant leverage to pick and choose the career opportunity that works best for them.

Cheryl Winokur Munk, CNBC

Though the reality is that fully-remote scenarios are diminishing, there’s no need to push the panic button. Don’t assume that everything’s moving full-tilt in the opposite direction. Our team is not experiencing inflexibility regarding hybrid negotiations, nor inklings of full flips to in-office-only policies. As a matter of fact, the word is only 4% of companies are requiring employees to return to the office full-time. The majority of employers are aware that flexible work options improve employee work-life balance, mental and physical health, and overall quality of life which results in higher retention rates, employee satisfaction, and higher productivity. The remote and hybrid model has proven to be especially sustaining to women in the workforce. Childcare, elder care, and career aspirations no longer compete in the same way they once did pre-pandemic. Women have an easier time parsing energy throughout these areas of importance thanks to flexible schedules.

It’s ultimately up to employers and employees alike to participate in the ongoing creation of sustainable, collaborative, and productive remote work environments. But if you’re experiencing a return to the office push, it’s equally important to work collaboratively at defining what “hybrid” means. We’re of the opinion that clear definitions of why you’re in-office are important. Invest in outlining goals and expectations. For example, are you in-office only for client meetings, collaborative days, and team-building exercises? Or are you arbitrarily requiring unplanned regular Tuesdays and Thursdays? Thinking things through will make in-office time more meaningful and productive.

If you’d like additional information on the future of hybrid work. Check out Gallup’s recent poll article:

The Future of Hybrid Work: 5 Key Questions Answered With Data


Why Critics Say Elon Musk’s Return-To-Office Ultimatum Is Dangerous

Bryan Robinson, Ph.D., Forbes, June 3, 2022

The Split-Screen Job Market: Low Unemployment, High Turnover, Plenty Of Openings—And More Layoff Headlines

Jena McGregor, Forbes, June 3, 2022

Just 4% Of Employers Are Making Everyone Return To The Office Full-Time, Survey Finds

Jena McGregor, Forbes, May 5, 2022

What a recession means for return-to-office battle between workers and companies

Cheryl Winokur Munk, CNBC, May 22, 2022

The idea of working in the office, all day, every day? No thanks, say workers

Andrea Hsu, NPR, June 5, 2022

Two Years Into The Pandemic, Almost Twice As Many Workers Prefer Hybrid Schedules To Fully Remote Work

Jena McGregor, Forbes, March 15, 2022