While they've reaped rewards from a geographically unbounded hiring pool, better collaboration and improved productivity, CEOs largely want staff back in the office. So, Elon Musk is not alone in his demand that Tesla workers be at the office 40 hours a week.
Only 28% of CEOs said they'd prefer hybrid during the next three years, while just 7% said they'd like a fully remote arrangement.
A third of KPMG's respondents are CEOs of companies with over $10bn in annual revenue, headquartered in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, UK and US.
Also, 86% of CEOs see a recession happening in the next 12 months and 46% of them are looking at cutting headcount in the next six months, while 75% have already started or are planning a hiring freeze over the next six months.
Given this outlook, the balance of power could tilt in favor employers who've weathered a tight labor market for all workers since the pandemic, not just high-tech ones. KPMG notes that even if employers have more bargaining power, CEOs need to make sure their people have "purposeful interactions" at the office.
"How do CEOs define what an optimal structure looks like? Now is the time to experiment and see what works best. Active listening, empathetic communications and a commitment to finding the right balance over the long term will be key," KPMG said.
"Employee expectations when it comes to remote work are evolving, so it's important for CEOs to develop a better working structure that suits their people in what is still an emerging area," it warned.
Microsoft, which is gearing Office software towards hybrid, found that many business leaders are suffering hybrid work "productivity paranoia". Its recent survey of of 20,000 people in 11 countries found 85% of business leaders suspect remote workers are shirking, while 87% of workers reckon they're just as efficient at home. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said employers need to overcome productivity paranoia.
It's unclear what the work norm will be in a world facing stagflation for the first time in 50 years. Currently, job postings for hybrid work are on the rise, according to GlobalData, yet LinkedIn's hybrid job postings have tapered off during the past few months.
KPMG found that 77% of CEOs see information security as a strategic function and a potential competitive edge. Some 73% of CEOs said geopolitical uncertainty had heightened concerns over cyberattacks, up from 61% in 2021, while 76% said protecting partners and their supply chain was as important as building their own defenses.