Three years after the pandemic closed down offices around the world, the remote-work revolution has morphed into a tug-of-war between frustrated bosses and fed-up staff.

While workers don’t want to give up flexibility, leaders want teams back to boost collaboration and avoid a productivity slump. The impasse is the latest phase in a high-stakes battle that’s putting careers, profits — and mental health — on the line. It’s also prompting conversations about how to move beyond binary debates over "working from home” and "return to the office.”

Some executives are losing patience with remote and hybrid working. "Things changed over the course of the pandemic,” said Martin Sorrell, founder of WPP and chairman of S4 Capital, who has performed an about-turn on the issue. "At the beginning, it worked well. Then the productivity levels and enthusiasm waned a bit and the lack of engagement on a face-to-face basis was an issue,” Sorrell said in an interview.