Forget return-to-office mandates. The most sought-after talent want ultimate flexibility. Their bosses need to get on board.

This will not be an easy transition. For instance, according to a report by workplace research firm Leesman, office-based working has been most popular with one group alone—senior leaders who had their own offices (or private meeting spaces). As a result, in 2023, veteran corporate managers will likely use the economic downturn to do a final attempt of dragging workers back to the office. It’s implausible to imagine that these more traditional managers might be rubbing their hands at the prospect of a short economic slowdown ahead, but using a softer job market as leverage to bring employees back to the office could prove a popular strategy. It might be too late; top talent has already made its mind up. There could be conflict ahead as it resolves itself.

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