Hamilton Lindley Office Return

Over the past two years, hybrid and remote positions have dominated advertised vacancies, reshaping workplace norms and giving employees power when it comes to flexibility and where they work. According to McKinsey, 87% of Americans want to work in a flexible environment that allows for work in an office setting as well as virtually. But some business leaders say all signs point toward companies forcing employees back into the office in 2023.

A recent survey by Slack found that only 12% of people would choose to be in the office full time. Yet 50% of leaders are demanding their employees come back full time. And that will result in a spike in turnover, according to Doug Dennerline, CEO of Betterworks. “Organizations are guaranteed to lose great people, not only for lack of flexibility, but because many of the best employees moved out of expensive cities during the pandemic and won’t be moving back,” he explains. “With the right performance management technology in place, where productivity can reach optimal levels and the best talent can work from anywhere, there’s no reason employees should be forced to work from an office.” 

But Dennerline’s predictions are falling on deaf ears. At the start of the New Year, Adzuna research shows early signs of a reversal in remote work as employers demand the return to office. Known as “The Great Mismatch,” Adzuna’s data shows that employers are becoming firmer on mandatory return-to-office policies. The proportion of roles specifying they are “office-based” has risen to a 19-month high of 4.2%. Although the number of new jobs posted every month continues to grow, hybrid and remote positions continue to dominate advertised vacancies. But over the last five months, the proportion of “office based” job vacancies has started to creep back up, as some employers become firmer on returning to the office.

The Future Of The Office

For this study, Adzuna conducted a year-over-year analysis of advertised job vacancies across the United States and found that from November 2020 to 2022, job postings grew by more than 6.2 million. Yet less than two percent were for office-based roles, whereas ads for remote roles rose by nearly 10%.

More key findings from the Adzuna analysis:

  • In March 2020, advertised vacancies fell from 4.3 million to 3.9 million. Numbers fluctuated in the coming months before rising again in August to 4.6 million. With the return of job postings, there was also a downturn of office-based roles and a rise in remote and hybrid positions.
  • In February 2020, positions specifying they are “office-based” made up 2.8% of advertised vacancies with hybrid positions making up 0.6% and fully remote positions making up 4%.
  • By April 2020, only 2.4% of postings were advertised as “office-based,”compared to 0.5% advertised as “hybrid” roles and 5.2% as “remote.”

Increased Demand For Remote Work

Since then, there’s been a steady increase in remote roles while office-based positions have stayed relatively steady.

  • In August 2022, vacancies labeled “remote” accounted for 15.4% of advertised positions, while vacancies specifying they are “office-based” made up four percent of positions.
  • This is a vast difference from August 2020 where “remote” postings made up 4.6% while “office-based” positions made up 1.6% of advertised vacancies.

2023: Year Of The Return To The Office?

Looking at Covid-19’s highest peaks, such as the Delta and Omicron variants, Adzuna’s data shows how these variants affected the job market.

  • At Delta’s surge during summer 2021, the number of remote postings rose from 10.7% to 11.2% before falling at the end of summer back to 10.4%.
  • During Omicron’s reign towards the end of 2021, the number of advertised vacancies in general dropped from 9.3 million in November 2021 to 8.2 million in January 2022 before rising again to 8.9 million in February.
  • Since summer 2022, many companies have become firmer on mandatory return-to-office policies, and the proportion of roles specifying they are “office-based” has risen to a 19-month high of 4.2%.
  • Meanwhile, the proportion of vacancies labeled “remote” has slipped to a 10-month low of 13.8%.

“Employers are becoming more polarized in their approach to flexible working,” according to Paul Lewis, chief customer officer at Adzuna. “In one camp, the likes of Elon Musk are mandating a return to the office, with the Tesla CEO recently asking Twitter employees to prepare to work 40 hours a week on site.” And Musk isn’t the only one, Lewis points out, with companies including Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs also adopting a non-flexible approach. “In the other camp, some employers have become remote first or guarantee flexible working as tactics to attract new talent,” Lewis notes. “We’ve seen a surge in the number of advertised vacancies for remote and hybrid positions, even with the return-to-office push seeming to be in full effect from top companies, and flexibility remains at the top of many job seekers’ wish lists. The current market still seems to be a job seeker’s game, however, with more companies drawing a line in the sand over their return-to-office policies and demand for labor cooling slightly, it’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here.”


  • Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Journalist, psychotherapist, and Author of 40 books.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, psychotherapist in private practice, and award-winning author of two novels and 40 nonfiction books that have been translated into 15 languages. His latest books are CHAINED TO THE DESK IN A HYBRID WORLD: A GUIDE TO WORK-LIFE BALANCE (New York University Press, 2023)#CHILL: TURN OFF YOUR JOB AND TURN ON YOUR LIFE (William Morrow, 2019), DAILY WRITING RESILIENCE: 365 MEDITATIONS & INSPIRATIONS FOR WRITERS (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). He is a regular contributor to Forbes.com, Psychology Today, and Thrive Global. He has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, ABC's World News Tonight, NPR’s Marketplace, NBC Nightly News and he hosted the PBS documentary "Overdoing It: How To Slow Down And Take Care Of Yourself." website: https://bryanrobinsonphd.com.