DC employers are showing resistance to remote work

D.C.-area companies in businesses that are able to continue offering post-pandemic remote work are not embracing it as much as might have been thought would be the case. In fact, an overwhelming majority of hiring managers are digging in their heels against it.

“From the survey that we sent out, 65% of local managers want their teams to be on-site full time. Employers may believe the office is still the best place to work, to collaborate and be innovative,” said Trey Barnette, regional vice president at staffing firm Robert Half.

Most likely to be pushing hard for full-time on-site work again in the D.C. area are finance and accounting and nonprofits.

Its survey also included employees and it, like other recent surveys, indicates that half of the professionals would look for a new job that offers remote options if their company required employees to return to the office full-time. That’s up 16% from a year ago.

Is that just talk, or would they really follow through?

“I can tell you right now, the statistics say that they are actually following through with that. We continue to see the Great Resignation, and that is not slowing up,” Barnette said.

Hybrid schedules — some days in the office, some days remote — were expected to emerge as a favored compromise by both employers and employees, but Robert Half’s recent survey found that just 38% of D.C. area senior managers say their companies will support it long-term.

For professionals hoping to win some kind of flexible remote work concessions from their employers, a sort of hybrid-of-a-hybrid proposal is an option.

“Maybe it could be a morning or an afternoon. So if people have child care concerns they can still be in the office part of the day, and get home to be able to get their kids when they get home from school,” Barnette said.

Working parents, along with millennial professionals, are most likely to say they’d quit if called back to the office full time, Robert Half said.

Despite the emerging disconnect between employers and employees, Robert Half said remote work is here to stay going forward.

“While some jobs may require to be in office, hybrid work is here to stay. Companies that don’t embrace the flexibility will potentially have some long-haul risk of losing valuable employees,” Barnette said.

Robert Half surveyed more than 2,300 senior managers and more than 1,000 professionals for its report, which is posted online.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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