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Hybrid work model wins the work-location battle in treasury

The battle between work from office (WFO) and work from home (WFH) versus hybrid work options is witnessing a clear winner – the hybrid model. It is where we are headed and is expected to be the dominant style of work in 2023 and beyond.

Hybrid work has come to treasury as well. In fact, the majority of treasury departments are adopting hybrid work arrangements, as per Strategic Treasurer’s 2023 Return to Office (RTO) Survey.

Between February 2nd and 15th, 2023, Strategic Treasurer conducted a survey of 249 professionals comprising CEOs, CFOs, treasurers and executives in a variety of treasury roles across corporate, financial, government and non-profit sectors.

“The 2023 Return to Office (RTO) Survey sought to gauge the current perspectives, attitudes, work location, and expectations for and against an RTO”, said Craig Jeffery, managing partner at Strategic Treasurer, a leading treasury consulting firm. ⃰

Shift from WFO to hybrid

According to the RTO Survey, “Hybrid is preferred by most and is expected to continue for the majority of companies.”

Source: Strategic Treasurer’s Survey Report Treasury’s Return to Office Status

Note: The table above excludes "Unsure" or "I don't know" responses.

The shift to hybrid workplace ecosystem is real and here to stay. The RTO survey shows that while 16% of the respondents had moved to a hybrid model prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has grown four times and is expected to land at 69% this July.

Before the pandemic, nearly three-quarters (73%) of those surveyed were fully WFO, but only 10% expect to remain so by July of 2023. “Some of these workers shifted into the fully WFH category, which grew from 8% pre-pandemic to an expected 17% in July 2023”, the RTO survey noted.

However, a majority of the treasury departments are hybrid (see table below). This was supported by another finding from the survey, which showed that “Over half of the survey respondents indicated that ‘most or all’ of their treasury department is on a hybrid schedule (56%).”

Source: Strategic Treasurer’s Survey Report Treasury’s Return to Office Status

Note: The table above excludes "Unsure" or "I don't know" responses.

The response of 10% of treasury employees was varied, with some of their coworkers on a hybrid basis, some WFH, and some working in the office. Only 14% (one in seven companies) of respondents stated that their departments are primarily WFO five days a week. This is counterbalanced by 18% of companies where most of the treasury professionals are WFH.

“The only two notable variations come from European respondents (21% WFH to 11% WFO) and small companies (32% WFH and 13% WFO). The middle of the bell-shaped curve is hybrid”, the survey explained.

RTO mandates and negative response

Seven out of ten (70%) organizations have experienced an RTO. Of these, 85% were mandated (58%) or highly encouraged (27%).


Source: Strategic Treasurer’s Survey Report Treasury’s Return to Office Status

A mere 12% indicated that return to office was done on a mostly voluntary basis, with those wanting to continue WFH allowed to do so.

Strategic Treasurer’s survey findings revealed a highly net negative response to RTO mandates. More than eight out of ten (82%) survey respondents indicated their department’s response to a mandated RTO as negative (see table below). Of these, nearly half (48%) termed it as “Moderately Negative” and one out of three (34%) as “Strongly Negative”.

Source: Strategic Treasurer’s Survey Report Treasury’s Return to Office Status

The survey further reports that “Bankers, who appear to have experienced more RTO activity than other sectors, and European entities have the highest negativity ratio among the survey respondent population.” Bankers are twice as negative (in terms of the negativity ratio) as the corporate respondents. “This is the ratio of strongly negative divided by the population that generally accepts the return to office mandate”, the survey explains.

The negativity ratio is another strong indicator that a majority of treasury employees prefer a hybrid work arrangement and are resistant to a complete reversion to the office setting that was standard practice in the pre-pandemic environment. This was further corroborated by a key finding of the survey where four in five respondents (81%) said that they would not like their treasury departments to return to the office on a pre-pandemic schedule.

WFH and hybrid advantages

“The benefits of WFH and hybrid outnumber the disadvantages. The differences should be reviewed carefully as you contemplate staff or personal work locations, efficiency, collaboration, and other considerations,” Jeffery recommends.


Source: Strategic Treasurer’s Survey Report Treasury’s Return to Office Status

The most significant benefits of working from home were employee satisfaction (54% net spread, with net spread being the difference between a 64% improvement and 10% deterioration), productivity (38% net spread) and mental health (27% net spread). Besides saving employees commuting costs, WFH and a hybrid work model appear to improve work-life balance, reduce stress and foster healthier lifestyles.

While they survey results show that WFH and hybrid working have increased employee productivity, the two areas where deterioration has taken place were coworker relationships (-20% net spread) and collaboration (-7% net spread). The core message here is that remote work has impacted employee relationships and impeded collaboration. Communication and connection, which are essential to effective coworker relationships and collaboration, are arguably now harder within the WFH and hybrid world.


Strategic Treasurer’s 2023 Return to Office Survey captures the mood and feelings of treasury professionals on a contemporary issue that is likely to emerge as the future of work.

By offering important and immediate insights, the survey empowers treasury teams to start investing in the future of work and to find the right balance between flexible work and optimum productivity. Furthermore, it is a great reminder that the move to a hybrid footing will necessitate finding ways to build relationships and bond with coworkers to foster effective collaboration.

Please listen to Strategic Treasurer's RTO Survey podcast discussion below. 

Disclosure: Strategic Treasurer owns CTMfile.

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