This week I was thrilled to appear on Nine’s Today Extra to talk about the latest research from the University of South Australia.

Have you seen it? 45% of the workers they surveyed said they’d be willing to take a pay cut to have the ability to work from home. 20% said they’d be willing to sacrifice up to 1/3 of their salaries.

Interestingly, women and all genders in their 30s and 50s were the most likely to accept a pay cut to work from home.

The article I read didn’t mention what those in their 40s said – proving once again that Gen X IS the most overlooked generation!

**** Okay that last bit was a joke. Gen X are well into their 50’s by now (which probably feels like a joke for them). :)

Seriously though. This just shows the disconnect between what employees want and are willing to sacrifice and what senior leadership wants – with up to 2/3 of Aussie CEOs expecting people to come back to the office full-time within 3 years.

So who will win?

I believe there is a short-term answer to this question and a long-term answer.

The short-term answer is entirely dependent on the economy. If we experience a downturn workers may be willing to go into the office for job security. BUT (and this is a big but)…

In the long term hybrid work (part in and part out of the office) will almost certainly win out. The skills shortage isn’t going away according to every single study I read and, as the above study shows, workers want this flexibility so much they are willing to sacrifice their pay.

AND (and this is a big and) companies that demand that workers return to the office full time should be ready for an exodus and a difficult time filling roles when the economy rebounds.

We saw that during the GFC. Companies that made big slashes to their workforce had the most difficult time staffing up after it was over.

And that was over a decade ago – before the skills shortage was as dire as it is now.

This should also be a cautionary tale for those who choose a redundancy strategy to handle the downturn…but that’s the subject of another article.