Most CEOs Plotting a Full 5-Day Return to Office – Here’s Proof

New data from KPMG shows the vast majority of CEOs want to return to an all-office world and even link it to pay rises.

If it seems like the number of companies ending fully remote work in 2023 is constantly rising, it’s not an illusion — it’s because CEOs everywhere clearly favor going back to pre-pandemic ways of working five days in the office.

According to the latest CEO Outlook study from KPMG, a clear majority of CEOs want a return to the traditional five-day office week, with an overwhelming number admitting they see a future where in-office attendance is linked to financial reward.

The data just doesn’t lie; most CEOs surveyed predict a full return to the five day office week within the next few years, and an even more overwhelming majority say they were likely to start linking pay rises and promotion opportunities to in-office attendance in future.

CEOs Want to Go Back to the Future

KPMG’s CEO Outlook report is an annual survey currently in its ninth year. The 2023 edition is based on the responses of more than 1,300 CEOs in 2023, with all respondents working for companies with an annual revenue over $500 million and a third boasting annual revenue of over $10 billion.

It shows that, while there are still plenty of companies offering remote working jobs in 2023, that might not always be the. CEOs expressed a clear desire to get staff not only back in the office, but back in the office a full five days a week.

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For those who may value the kind of work-life balance enabled by more flexible and hybrid styles of working, the numbers are actually quite shocking. The report reveals that 64% of CEOs are on the record as imagining their employees back in the office every day, while 87% want to start rewarding those who attend the office more with better pay and career prospects.

KPMG Sounds Warning To Short-Sighted CEOs

Despite the resounding data, KPMG itself suggested that a blanket return to office approach would likely be detrimental to companies, noting that the evidence shows hybrid working has had a “largely positive impact on productivity” as well as enjoying “strong employee support.”

“The evidence suggests a one-size-fits-all approach to return-to-office could be detrimental. It’s crucial that leaders take a long-term view that embraces the employee value proposition and encompasses the considerations and needs of everyone.” – Nhlamu Dlomo, KPMG Global Head of People.

The CEOs surveyed were drawn from 11 major international markets including the US, Canada, UK, Australia, China, India and Japan. It’s therefore worth approaching the statistics with an appreciation of cultural workplace differences, as they may skew some of the data. In total, 11 sectors were covered by the CEO Outlook 2023 report: asset management, automotive, banking, consumer and retail, energy, infrastructure, insurance, life sciences, manufacturing, technology, and telecommunications.

The Future of Remote Work in Doubt?

With big name companies like Meta, Amazon and, yes, even Zoom among the organizations sounding the klaxon for a return to physical offices, it’s no wonder many employees are worried.

As we’ve said, there are still plenty of remote-first firms out there, but more than that, there are companies hiring for remote job requiring no qualifications. This means that in an absolute worse case scenario, you could start a new career path if remote working is an absolute must for you.

The future of work is still taking shape in the post-pandemic world, with the new study from KPMG showing once again the important of employees enshrining any rights they want to protect in their contract.

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Written by:
James Laird is a technology journalist with 10+ years experience working on some of the world's biggest websites. These include TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, Lifehacker, Gizmodo and The Sun, as well as industry-specific titles such as ITProPortal. His particular areas of interest and expertise are cyber security, VPNs and general hardware.
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