Many U.S. employees hoping to continue working remotely, even partially, after the Covid-19 crisis subsides likely will have those hopes dashed by their manager.

That’s according to a survey by Robert Half. It found that while the surge in coronavirus cases suggests that many remote employees won’t be returning to the office in the near future, almost three-quarters (71 percent) of senior managers in the U.S. expect all of their employees to return to the office on a full-time basis once health-crisis restrictions are completely lifted.

The poll by the global human-resource consulting firm also revealed that only 16 percent of managers will allow employees to follow a hybrid schedule — which would allow workers to divide time between the office and another location — while an even smaller number (12 percent) will permit staff the freedom to choose where they work.

Those findings stand in contrast to what workers want: Almost half of employees currently telecommuting (49 percent) prefer a hybrid arrangement, and about a third (34 percent) plan to look for a new job if they will be required to work in the office five days a week, according to a separate study by Robert Half.

The results only serve to amplify the “disconnect between what managers prefer and what employees expect,” Paul McDonald, Robert Half senior executive director, said in the report.

“But in this talent-driven market, especially, companies need to prioritize their people and look to the future,” he added. “Providing flexibility is a low-cost way to create a positive employee experience and inclusive workplace culture.”

A lack of trust

The top factors driving managers’ concerns about extending remote work after the pandemic included communication with employees (22 percent) and trusting employees to complete their tasks (20 percent), the survey showed.

“As a company that has embraced hybrid work, we’ve experienced some of the challenges and opportunities firsthand. It’s a moving target that requires ongoing commitment and collaboration from many teams, but the outcome of increased employee morale, productivity and retention is worth the investment,” McDonald said.

The poll also found that managers’ views about the future of hybrid work vary by city, practice area and company size. Those most likely to favor flexibility reside in Boston (45 percent), San Francisco (38 percent) and Philadelphia (37 percent.)

Business leaders in marketing (30 percent) and finance (28 percent) departments are the most hybrid-work friendly. Large organizations with 1,000 or more employees are more likely to allow a hybrid option than smaller enterprises.

The Robert Half survey, conducted by independent research firms, includes responses from more than 2,800 senior managers with 20 or more employees in the U.S. Industries polled include finance, technology, legal, marketing and human resources, and the data was collected from June 4 to July 1, 2021.

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