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The Hybrid Workplace May be Settling on 3 Days in Office

As post-pandemic restrictions are lifted, workers are returning to the office under new hybrid workplace schedules. Some companies say 'hybrid' means three days in the office.

Full-time remote work may be nearing an end, and the new work schedule is emerging as three days in the office and two days at home. It isn't the hybrid workplace schedule all employees were hoping for, but some high-profile employers are being clear about their new schedules. 

Google, Uber, Citigroup and Qualtrics have all announced a three-day in-office schedule. But many white-collar workers may want more time away from the office.

According to a Gallup poll this week, 72% of white-collar workers continue to work remotely; although, for those in computer-oriented and mathematical fields, that number is even higher at 86%.

Among white-collar workers, the Gallup poll found that even after COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions are lifted, 41% of men and 39% of women "would continue working remotely as much as possible because they prefer it." That figure was 54% for people in computer and math fields. 

The return-to-work schedule "depends on who decides," said Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, a telecommuting research and consulting firm in San Diego. Business leaders are leaning to three days in the office, and two days out; employees, on the other hand, are leaning toward only two days in the office, she said. 

Qualtrics, for example, is settling on a three-days-a-week office schedule after surveying its 3,500 employees. Before the pandemic, approximately 91% of the firm's employees worked in the office.

Hybrid workplace future
"We've always had a very strong in-person culture," said Julia Anas, chief people officer at Qualtrics. The technology vendor's shift to more remote work comes from surveying employees and getting leadership feedback, she said. Fewer than 5% of employees indicated they never wanted to return to the office. 

The firm is thinking about how to redesign the workspaces "to accelerate innovation and creativity, build those connections and create unity across diverse teams," Anas said.

There was always a population at Qualtrics that was full-time remote, Anas said, and that will continue, but the company does not plan to expand on it. 

Qualtrics, which said it added 1,000 employees during the pandemic, isn't planning to downsize office space but is looking at expanding its office locations to give it more access to talent. 

Google announced this month its hybrid workplace schedule would be one "where most Googlers spend approximately three days in the office and two days wherever they work best," Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in an email to employees.

Uber told employees they could work from home two days a week, "but with a clear expectation that they also come into the office three days a week," wrote Nikki Krishnamurthy, its chief people officer, in a recent blog post.

Salesforce, a recently vocal proponent for the hybrid workplace, however, said its policy is flexible, with workers in the office one to three days a week. 

Patrick Thibodeau covers human capital management and ERP technologies. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.