Over a third of workers want to return to the office full-time

August 30, 2021, 5:05 PM UTC

Americans are gearing up for a hybrid workweek this fall, with many companies planning to give employees the option of working some days in person and some remotely. 

But a hybrid workweek can range from one day in the office to four, depending on the company’s protocols and individual managers. So what’s the sweet spot among employees? Three days a week in the office, according to a new survey by the Harris Poll of over 1,100 U.S. workers fielded in August 2021.

But while the majority of workers want some flexibility, there is a significant portion who want to return to a five-day workweek. Just over a third of respondents, 37%, want to return to the office full-time. And men are slightly more likely to want to return in person than women; men wanted to be in the office an average of 3.5 days a week, compared with 3.1 days among women. Older workers over the age of 57 reported they wanted to spend an average of 2.7 days in the office a week, while younger workers felt more comfortable with 3.4 days in person. 

That optimal workweek is fairly consistent across all job levels, from entry level to C-suite, although it does vary a bit across different industries, the survey finds. Workers in industries that are more traditionally in person, such as food services, manufacturing, construction, and trucking, typically reported an optimal hybrid work situation of closer to four days in the office, on average. 

About half of active job seekers prefer to work remotely, said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter, a leading online employment marketplace. That’s remained consistent throughout 2021, Pollak told Fortune. And the share looking to work remotely even after the pandemic ends is also around 45%, she said, adding that the desire to work remotely is highest among workers ages 25 to 44.

About 18% of companies plan to use a hybrid workweek this fall, according to a recent survey from PwC. Another 18% plan to use a mix of in-person and hybrid options, and 19% plan to require that employees work fully in person this fall. 

“Companies have a tremendous opportunity here to transform work,” Neil Dhar, PwC’s chief clients officer recently said. By redesigning the workweek, companies can help drive growth, better prepare for uncertainty, and create a workplace that top talent is eager to join, said Dhar. And that can be a huge advantage as 65% of workers are currently hunting for a new job.

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