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Talent Talk: Are We Seeing the End of the Remote Work Era?

Image courtesy of GettyImages/fizkes remote worker with computer
The answer is absolutely yes, or definitely not, depending on who’s doing the talking.

Last week Disney CEO Bob Iger joined a growing number of business leaders when he said all hybrid workers must be in the office four days a week beginning on March 1. Major employers such as Goldman Sachs, Netflix, and Tesla have been outspoken about the need for employees to be in the office, at least most of the time.

The consulting firm recently surveyed 1,000 business leaders to find out if their company has implemented a return-to-office plan or if they intend to in 2023. Two-thirds of those surveyed currently require employees to work from the office. That number will rise to 90% at some point during the year.

Carrots and sticks are involved, as the survey also noted 88% of companies are offering some type of incentive to return, like higher pay, commuter benefits, and free lunches. On the other hand, 21% said they will fire workers who do not return.

So, it seems the remote/hybrid era is over, right? As the great broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say: And now, for the rest of the story.

A recent Gallup poll projects that 75% of those who can work remotely will be remote or hybrid for the long term. Companies that can offer this will realize advantages in recruitment, retention, and cost cutting due to needing less office space. And most workers do not want to come back, at least not full time. Having had a taste of the remote/hybrid lifestyle, many find they prefer it. It’s hard to tell someone that they can’t successfully work from home when they’ve been doing it for two years.

Since our plastics manufacturing world doesn’t have widespread opportunities for remote or hybrid jobs, you might wonder why this even matters to us. Because we recruit workers who have other options, our competition isn’t just with other manufacturers. Having the workforce move back toward a return to the office should be a slight positive for plastics and other industries that do not have as much flexibility when it comes to working remotely.


About the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

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