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Remote Resistance: Despite Company Mandates, Employees Seek Flexibility in Australia

Remote Resistance: Despite Company Mandates, Employees Seek Flexibility in Australia
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Morgan McKinley Survey Reveals Demand for Hybrid Work 

Four years after the pandemic, the Australian workforce is still debating the merits and downfalls of hybrid work patterns. Insights gleaned from over professionals and employers in Australia by: Morgan McKinley as part of its Global Workplace Guide found:

  • Preference for Hybrid or Remote Work: 97% of Australian workers express a strong preference for continuing in a hybrid or remote work model
  • Employee Satisfaction: Professionals working in hybrid models express the highest contentment with their work patterns, with 65% willing to forego pay raises for desired flexibility
  • Remote Rewind: Despite employee preferences, 65% of Australian companies are urging staff to return to the office more regularly
  • Employee Dissatisfaction: Onsite workers show higher rates of actively seeking new employment opportunities compared to hybrid and remote workers
  • Impact on Talent Attraction: Flexible working arrangements emerge as a crucial factor in talent attraction and retention, with 62% of hiring managers highlighting its importance

The survey found that in Australia, 1-2 days in the office is the favoured weekly working pattern for 56% of professionals, with a further 24% selecting 3-4 days. Only 3% are happy to be in the office for the full 5 working days. The survey also revealed that half of employees would even skip a pay raise if it meant they got their desired flexibility.

Despite employee preferences, 56% of companies globally with 65% in Australia are urging staff to increase their in-office presence, indicating a disconnect between employer and employee expectations. Our research also showed the potential attrition of employees with 56% of respondents who work onsite five days a week are the ones most actively looking for a new job in the next six months compared to hybrid employees (41%) and fully remote employees (44%).


Australia pushing for more in-office presence

The survey also found regional differences from companies mandating for employees to return to the office with Hong Kong (91%), Australia (65%), Japan (62%), Singapore (61%), and China (59%) exhibiting higher rates of return-to-office mandates compared to 40% in the UK, 40% in Canada and 42% in Ireland.


Dominic Bareham, Managing Director, Morgan McKinley Australia, commented: “Four years post-pandemic, the global workforce is still grappling with the ongoing debate surrounding hybrid work models. Simply mandating a five-day-a-week office presence would likely encounter resistance and productivity dips. Our research underscores the resounding preference for flexibility, with 86% advocating for continued adoption of hybrid arrangements.”

“The current tightening labour market has spurred companies to mandate working in the office, viewing it as an opportune time to do so. The approach that companies take is likely to differentiate themselves over many years to come and will see people moving organisations to find the ideal set up for each of their circumstances. The conversation will continue and we are seeing it’s a key factor in individuals' decisions to interview and accept an offer. We are seeing organisations that are starting to use this differentiator to attract talent that might have previously lost to higher-paying companies.

“Companies, therefore, need to implement a strategic and mindful approach to this remote rewind. Striking the balance between flexibility and practicality calls for close collaboration through open communication channels and understanding the motivations driving employees' desires for flexible work arrangements. We advise our clients to be clear on work from home and flexibility policies early in the process to maximise success rate when hiring to create a more inclusive, productive, and resilient workforce

The Morgan McKinley Global Workplace Study gathered insights about various hiring and workplace trends by surveying over 3400 professionals and 650 employers/hiring managers globally.


About Morgan McKinley

Morgan McKinley is a global talent services expert, offering the full spectrum of solutions to meet employers’ and jobseekers’ needs. With 19 offices in 10 countries and nearly 1000 employees, it provides 3 distinct solutions for customers. Morgan McKinley Recruitment Solutions encompassing deep expertise across 10 professional disciplines offering temporary, contract and permanent recruitment; Morgan McKinley Executive Search for targeted C-Suite talent searches; and Morgan McKinley Talent Solutions including RPO, MSP, Project Recruitment and more.

Morgan McKinley is part of Org, a more human kind of professional services company that harnesses the power of talent to bring better business outcomes for clients across the world through advisory, managed services and talent services.