As workplaces grapple with the now annual post-Labor Day return-to-office debate, it may seem like companies have finally had enough with remote work. Come work in person or find a new job, bosses seem to be saying. No, really. They mean it this time.
But those attention-grabbing proclamations obscure what’s happening in many workplaces. In fact, the largest companies have embraced hybrid work, according to the September Flex Report from remote work platform Scoop. The report finds 82% of Fortune 500 companies in the company’s Flex Index—which has information on 293 of those companies—offer workplace flexibility, the most common arrangement by far being two to three days required in the office.
On the most flexible side of things are companies like 3M and Allstate, which allow employees to work out their own schedule. In the middle are organizations like Chipotle and Disney, which have hybrid schedules for corporate employees. The least flexible, which require employees in office full time, include Goldman Sachs and Tesla, according to reports.
The Fortune 500 is a ranking of the largest U.S. companies by revenue and was devised by this publication in 1955. Scoop uses it as a benchmark because “small companies look to the Fortune 500 as leaders to aspire to be one day, and public companies look to see what the Fortune 500 is doing when evaluating their own business practices,” which this reporter will not dispute.
In general, large public companies are much more likely to offer flexible work policies than private organizations, according to the report. This is true in every industry Scoop tracks.
And the larger the Fortune 500 company, the more likely they are to offer what Scoop calls a “structured hybrid” work policy—meaning requiring a few set days in office (typically some combination of Tuesday through Thursday). “That will cement structured hybrid as the go-to model for large companies over time,” the report reads.
“Every year we do this dance around Labor Day. Will there be a big shift back” in the office, Rob Sadow, Scoop’s CEO and cofounder, tells Fortune. “I don’t think it will be that big of a shift. It’s settling into some kind of hybrid routine.”
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There are many reasons for this, says Sadow, including that decision-making is much more spread out in a large public company than in a private company. Whereas the private company’s policies may be dictated by a single executive, there are often differences between teams, managers, and locations in a public company.
Scoop collects data on the workplace policies of over 4,000 companies. It does this a few ways: Employees (with a company email) may submit information on their own, which Scoop then follows up on. It also pays attention to news reports on the biggest companies and scours career listings to learn about the policies. Finally, it reaches out to companies directly to let them know they will be included and gives them the option to update or clarify their policies.
The findings of the report first surprised Sadow, given all of the headlines about bosses cracking down on remote work. But they make sense, he says. After all, large public companies often have teams all over the country or all over the world—they are used to working with colleagues remotely.
Plus, public companies “have higher growth rate targets and expectations, so they have higher talent needs,” he says. “Job seekers are clear that flexibility is important to them.”
The survey’s findings further underscore the truce that employers and employees are reaching, he says.
“A lot of the coverage and discussion is on the CEOs who are pushing really hard on full time in-office, and there are a lot of readers interested in that,” he says. “But in reality, employees and employers are less far apart than it may seem.”
That trend has been noted by other research, including that of Nick Bloom, a Stanford professor who leads the WFH Research group and who has been studying remote work for two decades. Hybrid work environments will continue to win out, he posits, particularly in big companies that want to remain competitive.
Scoop’s research has previously found that newer companies—those founded since 2000—are also more likely than older companies to offer workplace flexibility.
“If you see companies that are as big and reputable as Fortune 500 being this flexible, and you see the newer companies being this flexible, it’s a pretty clear sign of where we’re heading,” he says. “That gives me some belief that this is where we’re largely going to stay. There may be some outliers who do more or less, but I think we’re pretty settled.”