The Remote Work Divide: The Debate Continues


5 min read

In the ever-evolving landscape of work arrangements, Morgan Smith's CNBC article, Bosses want to work from home more than employees do, says new survey—but they’re still pushing RTO requirements provides a deeper view of the debate over the future of remote work which has become a focal point of discussions.

Differing opinions of employees and employers on the topic of remote work

This excerpt suggests that while a significant majority of bosses, comprising middle managers, executives, and business owners, are in favor of continuing remote work, a noticeably smaller proportion of employees share the same sentiment. Additionally, the data points to a widespread desire for flexibility among executives, non-executives, and high earners, indicating that the nature of work is undergoing a paradigm shift.

Quoting an excerpt from the article:

"The survey found that 68% of bosses, a group that includes middle managers, executives and business owners, would like remote work to continue in 2024, while less than half (48%) of employees feel the same."

The divergence in preferences between bosses and employees regarding the continuation of remote work in 2024 raises intriguing questions about the evolving dynamics of the workplace. The fact that 68% of bosses express a desire for remote work to persist suggests that many decision-makers recognize the benefits of flexible work arrangements. This may stem from observations related to increased productivity, improved work-life balance, or other advantages that remote work has demonstrated over the past few years.

On the flip side, the revelation that less than half (48%) of employees share this enthusiasm for remote work is noteworthy. It could indicate that, for a considerable portion of the workforce, the appeal of the traditional office environment, social interactions, or a clear boundary between work and personal life still holds significant value. The reasons behind this disconnect warrant exploration, as it has implications for employee satisfaction, engagement, and potentially, talent retention.

Quoting another excerpt from the article:

"More than 80% of executives and non-executives want flexibility in where they work, including a majority (56%) of those in the office full-time, per Future Forum’s February 2023 pulse survey. This is true of high-earners, too: A July 2023report from McKinsey found that one-third of employees earning over $150,000would quit their jobs if they had to return to the office full-time."

The high demand for workplace flexibility, as indicated by over 80% of executives and non-executives, is a compelling aspect of the survey. Even among those working in the office full-time, a majority express a desire for flexible work arrangements. This aligns with broader trends suggesting that the future of work is likely to involve a hybrid model, allowing individuals to balance in-office collaboration with the benefits of remote work.

The McKinsey report's finding that one-third of employees earning over $150,000 would consider leaving their jobs if forced to return to the office full-time underscores the financial and career implications tied to flexible work. This signals a shifting power dynamic, where employees, particularly high earners, are placing a premium on the autonomy to choose where they work. Companies that understand and adapt to this sentiment are likely to be better positioned to attract and retain top talent in the competitive job market.

The divide between employer and employee preferences regarding the future of remote work presents a nuanced challenge for organizations seeking to define their post-pandemic work policies. Striking a balance between the aspirations of decision-makers and the preferences of the workforce will be crucial for fostering a harmonious and productive work environment. The overwhelming demand for flexibility across various professional strata suggests that the hybrid model is emerging as a potential solution, providing the best of both worlds for those seeking autonomy and those valuing the traditional office setting. As the corporate landscape continues to evolve, the ability of organizations to navigate and embrace this new era of work will likely be a determining factor in their long-term success.

Sunk costs of unused office spaces

This article also sheds light on a critical factor influencing executives' decisions regarding Return to Office (RTO) requirements – the sunk cost of unused office space.

Quoting an excerpt from the article:

"The sunk cost of unused office space has been a major factor in executives’ decisions to introduce stricter RTO requirements even if they prefer to work from home, says Kathy Kacher, a consultant who advises corporate executives on their RTO plans."

Kathy Kacher, a consultant specializing in advising corporate executives on their RTO plans, points out that the financial implications tied to maintaining underutilized office spaces have become a significant consideration. This insight highlights the economic challenge faced by organizations in maintaining physical offices, especially when a portion of the workforce prefers remote work.

A practical solution to mitigate the impact of this sunk cost could involve exploring alternatives such as coworking spaces. Renting a coworking space as an office offers a cost-effective way for organizations to provide a physical workspace for employees without the burden of maintaining a large, fixed office. Coworking spaces often provide flexible membership plans, allowing companies to scale their office space based on actual usage. This approach aligns with the evolving trend of hybrid work models, where employees have the flexibility to work remotely or access shared office spaces when needed.

In essence, leveraging coworking spaces can be a strategic move for executives aiming to address the financial challenges associated with maintaining traditional office spaces. It not only aligns with the preferences of employees who value flexibility but also presents a viable solution to optimize costs in the post-pandemic work landscape.


The debate over the future of remote work continues with a clear divide between the preferences of employers and employees. While a majority of bosses are in favor of sustaining remote work, less than half of the employees feel the same. A significant demand for flexibility, however, is evident across all professional levels, suggesting that a hybrid work model could be the way forward.

Additionally, the economic challenge of maintaining underused office spaces is a factor influencing Return to Office decisions. As the dynamics of the corporate landscape evolve, companies that can adapt to these changes, by perhaps considering alternatives like coworking spaces, are likely to succeed in the long run.