If you want to work from home — or negotiate a hybrid work schedule with your boss — you may want to double check the office’s zip code first.
Managers in certain U.S. cities are more likely to favor work flexibility for their employees than others, according to a new survey from staffing agency Robert Half.
Nearly 3,000 senior managers across different industries including finance, technology, marketing and human resources responded to survey questions about hybrid work and returning to the office.
Boston ranked as the number one city to embrace flexible work, with 45% of managers saying they’d continue to allow their employees to work remotely part or full time even after the threats of the Covid-19 pandemic have subsided, followed by San Francisco (38%) and Philadelphia (37%).
These cities top the list because they’ve been early adopters of hybrid work, Paul McDonald, the senior executive director at Robert Half, tells CNBC Make It. “They’re all very progressive and tech forward,” McDonald says. “They’ve figured out that a hybrid environment can be a great tactic to attract, recruit and retain talent in a tight, candidate driven market — some of these cities, like San Francisco, were trailblazers for this kind of work even before the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Commutes in Boston, San Francisco and Philadelphia tend to be longer than other locales, too, McDonald notes, so managers may feel a greater sense of urgency to allow hybrid work or risk losing talent.
Managers in other cities, however, are far less likely to allow their employees to work hybrid work schedules, the survey found. Only 13% of managers in Austin said they favor a combination of in-person and remote work, the lowest of the 28 cities surveyed. Miami, Denver and Charlotte trailed close behind, with 16% of managers in each city reporting they would not allow employees to be remote part- or full-time once Covid-19 pandemic restrictions lift.
Austin’s results are surprising at first, as Mayor Steve Adler has been a vocal proponent of hybrid work throughout the pandemic. The progressive city has also consistently ranked as one of the best cities for remote work in different reports given its low cost of living and growing tech scene.
Instead of adopting a hybrid work schedule, many companies in Austin have decided to either go completely remote or return to the office full-time, Thomas Vick, a regional director at Robert Half who oversees the Austin market, says.
“Austin was becoming tech forward before the pandemic, so a lot of companies were already ahead of the curve, and figured out that working fully remote worked best for them and their employees,” Vick explains. “Many of them don’t see a reason to change that, or pivot to a hybrid schedule.”
Other Austin companies have pushed for a full-time return to office, he adds, after building massive, expensive branches downtown. In fact, recent data from the security company Kastle Systems shows Austin has one of the highest rates of office occupancy.
“We’ve gone through a huge construction boom over the last five years,” Vick says. “So companies have these new, extravagant offices that managers want to use, and you’re not seeing much pushback from employees either, because they have access to all these amenities — full kitchens, libraries, pool tables, you name it.”
Still, as Covid-19 cases continue to spike and companies push back their return-to-office plans, many workers are not willing to compromise job flexibility. According to a recent survey by Morning Consult, 1-in-3 American workers would not want to work for an employer that requires them to work on site full-time. Moreover, 87% of respondents said they want the flexibility to continue some form of remote work.
Employers not willing to grant that will be faced with a lot of empty desk chairs, McDonald warns. “Workers are telling us they want choices,” he says. “There are so many open jobs right now, that if you don’t listen to them, they’ll find it elsewhere.”