Navigating the Return to Office:
Insights for Executive Hiring Success.

exploring both sides of the return to office strategy, and how it may impact your executive hiring success.


There has been A significant change in office culture.

Regardless of your stance on Work From Home, there has been an undeniable paradigm shift towards remote and hybrid work formats that were put in place as a direct result of COVID lockdowns. With the coronavirus seemingly in the rearview mirror, many employers are now pushing for a widespread return to traditional offices.


Several valid arguments support an in-person office format including a more collaborative, spontaneous, and organic creative environment, more successful onboarding for junior employees, fostering a sense of community and comradery, and enhanced social and professional networking opportunities, to name a few.

a top-down push to reverse course...

In a recent KPMG study, that surveyed more than 1,300 global CEOs about their views on return-to-office, 64% of US companies indicated they are devising return-to-office strategies87% of CEOs answered that they are likely to reward employees who make an effort to come into the office with favorable assignments, raises, or promotions.


This includes Dell, the latest tech giant to give an RTO ultimatum. Leaked Dell memos reveal employees can continue to work remotely, but they won’t be eligible for promotions or new roles.


If this trend continues, in-person and hybrid workplaces will become the norm, with fully remote work becoming more and more difficult to find.


...could alienate top, and diverse talent.

While employers are increasingly pushing for an end to fully remote work, research from FlexJobs’ 2022 Career Survey, showed that 65% of respondents prefer to work remotely full-time, while 32% want a hybrid work environment. That adds up to 97% of workers who prefer either a fully remote, or hybrid setting. In that same survey of over 4,000 employees across several industries and seniorities, 63% of the 4,000 respondents said they prioritized better work-life balance over pay. 


Furthermore, according to research by The Washington Post, in 2022, 50% of all LinkedIn job applications were for roles promoting remote work, while only 15% of the posted job openings were fully remote. 


With the employees’ clear preference for remote work, companies that don’t embrace remote work are facing challenges in attracting and hiring top executive talent. To make matters more difficult, a recent report by McKinsey, found that employees who strongly prefer to work from home are comparatively senior, and well-paid. Additionally, in-person office formats are detrimental to long-term gender diversity.

To keep in mind if implementing a return to office strategy:

  • Maintain an open and transparent dialogue. Clear reasoning will be respected and trusted – even if not agreed with. This puts the ball in the court of the employees, allowing them to process their decision and potential reluctance to return to the office.

  • Set expectations and keep your word. The most frustrated employees are the ones who were hired in a remote context and are now expected to be OK with a change in the status quo. If your company is transitioning, be open about it.

  • Be honest about your culture, going beyond experience and technical requirements. Fit is everything – if it’s high-stress, high-reward environment, don’t hide it. Some people actively seek out these opportunities, while others shy away.

We have seen an increase in client engagements where companies implementing a return-to-office policy have tried and failed to fill positions either via an in-house team or a traditional, retained-fee search firm. Our digital-first executive search technique allows us to find the best possible candidates that are typically outside of traditional “who you know” networks. We use our proprietary search algorithms to pinpoint hard-to-reach and passive talent that we geotarget near your headquarters, and/or talent willing to relocate for the right opportunity.


Should you wish to discuss how we can use our unique approach to executive search to help solve your executive search and return to office needs, reach out to

So what's the final word on remote vs. in-person work?

There is no one right answer. Certain functions, industries, and even personality types are better suited for fully-remote work than others. That being said, many experts believe that the future of remote work ultimately depends on two things:

  1. the supply and demand of jobs and how that impacts employee/employer bargaining power. In a recession economy, jobs tend to be scarce, and employers can be more demanding, in a thriving economy, the opposite tends to happen.

  2. The emergence of conclusive research surrounding RTO and productivity. At the moment, there are no studies by companies or institutions that found that hybrid or WFH are less productive. 

In the aforementioned McKinsey study, employees with hybrid working options listed increased productivity as a top 3 reason for both going to the office and working from home. They listed “saving commuting time”, and “saving money,” as the other top reasons to work from home, while “to work with my team”, and “to comply with my employer’s policies” as the other top reasons they work from the office.


If you enjoyed our insights, be sure to check out our other articles here.

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Have any questions? We are always open to talk about your executive hiring needs, challenges, and opportunities, and discuss how we can help you.