Presenting your organization as an employer of choice for contingent talent is always important. But given the skills shortage, the best talent can be choosier about what organizations they want to work with — and also those they don’t.

As businesses increasingly implement ironclad return-to-office policies for staff employees, contingent worker program managers should consider the impact such rules will have on their contingent workers and their program’s ability to attract the best talent going forward.

Is a hybrid approach a better option? Here are some thoughts to consider.

Surveys and research have found that workers of all types have adjusted to working remotely, and the majority prefer to stay that way.

Employers have also benefited from the ability to contract talent regardless of location, oftentimes at lower costs. However, some organizations have reported declines in productivity and say the lack of in-person camaraderie and regular face-to-face interaction is hampering collaboration and teamwork creativity.

With a hybrid option, project managers can work with their teams to find the most convenient days for everyone to meet in person. While this could mean an occasional long commute or even a plane flight and overnight stays for some, it may make the most sense in the long run if it keeps the team together, the talent happy and — most importantly — the project successful and on track.

While a fully remote policy allows for a huge net to be cast to find talent, a hybrid policy still expands an organization’s geographic reach beyond what a fully in-person policy would provide. For an exciting role with a top-notch company, many job candidates would be willing to be “super commuters” on occasion if it is balanced with work-from-home days as well.

For the last two-plus years, employees have perfected their remote work strategy, reestablished their work-life balance and saved time and money on daily commutes, Sal Viveros, head of Global Corp Communications at Ivanti, wrote in a Forbes article. Now, many who have the ability to do their jobs remotely do not see the advantage of returning to the office full time.

The “everywhere workplace” is playing a larger role in employee retention and attraction, as employees are now looking beyond paychecks and benefits when they’re considering a position. Ivanti’s “Everywhere Workplace Report” — which launched in March 2022 and surveyed 4,510 office workers and 1,609 IT professionals globally — found that 71% of employees would rather work from anywhere than be promoted.

“Companies have the opportunity to foster a truly global workforce once the limitations of four walls are removed,” Viveros wrote. “This could expand talent pools from a few dozen to hundreds of qualified workers. This means companies can truly find the best person for the position, not the best one who happens to live within a drivable distance.”

Preparing for a Hybrid Future

Omdia’s “2022 Future of Work Trends” report, which includes the results of a global survey of 450 C-level executives, states that 48% of the total workforce will work in a mobile or hybrid fashion over the next two years. In addition, half of companies surveyed, 49%, believe that remote working has improved employee productivity and collaboration, and 50% reported company culture has improved.

“I think hybrid work is often misunderstood as being this work style that we all had to embrace out of necessity during the pandemic, and that’s just not true. That was just purely work from home for most people,” report author and Omdia analyst Adam Holtby told InformationWeek. “Hybrid is different. Hybrid is that mix between home working, working in an office and working in a coffee shop or remote location sometimes.”

IT leaders and other business management must consider how to evolve their physical workspaces for this new era when employees are returning to the office part of the time.

“They will be looking to better augment those physical places with technology to make the experience better and different from what you can do at home,” Holtby said. “Nobody wants to commute for an hour and a half just to go sit in an office and do the exact same thing that they can do from home.”