18 March, 2024

Future of Work: What’s in PMI’s 2024 Pulse of the Profession Report?

We now have PMI’s 2024 Pulse of the Profession Report: The Future of Project Work: Moving Past Office-Centric Models. Having covered every Pulse report since 2016, I can say this one is good, but not a classic.

The links go to my assessments of these reports. There was no Pulse of the Profession report in 2022.

Highlights of What We Will Learn

Future of Work: What's in PMI's 2024 Pulse of the Profession Report?

To give you a flavor of what we’ll find, let’s start with some quotes from the Foreword by Pierre Le Manh, PMP President & CEO of Project Management Institute:


‘We can confidently say that project management’s future success is defined by adaptability to the changing environment’

Hybrid Delivery

‘The use of these hybrid approaches has increased from 20% in 2020 to 31% in 2023’

‘Project teams perform equally well using predictive, hybrid and agile project management approaches and within onsite, hybrid and remote work arrangements.’

Remote Working

‘Today, approximately 61% of project management professionals work remotely at least some of the time.’

Professional Development

‘Organizations that provide supportive programs (we call them enablers), such as mentoring and communities of practice, to help individuals and teams learn new skills demonstrate better project performance.’

In this Assessment of PMI’s latest Pulse of the Profession Report, we will look at:

  1. Choosing the Right Approach Is Just The Beginning
    = Ways of working and the growth of hybrid
  2. Breaking Myths — Different Work Arrangements Are Equally Effective
    = The Growth of Flexible Working
  3. The Future of Project Work — Enablers of Greater Project Performance
    = The Need to Invest in Building Capabilities
  4. The Bottom Line
    = What Organizations Should Start Doing
  5. My Conclusion

Section 1: Ways of Working and the Growth of Hybrid
Choosing the Right Approach Is Just The Beginning

Insight #1

Hybrid management frameworks are gaining ground as the fit-for-purpose approach, and organizations are combining predictive and agile practices to cope with different challenges and needs in their project work. Adopting the right approach for managing projects should be considered the starting point from which to seek additional strategies to increase project results.

To me, this is a confirmation of the strap line I used on this website and my YouTube channel, throughout 2022: All Project Management is Hybrid Project Management.

PMI tells us that

‘we see comparable rates of project performance regardless of the approach used, indicating that most organizations are consistently using the right approaches for their projects.’

I rather like Figure 1, the Ways of Working Spectrum, on page 6. It shows a spectrum from Predictive to Agile via 3 examples of hybrid approaches. What I like is that it shows us that there is more than one way to combine concepts. What I don’t like, however, is the implication that some may draw, that there are discrete hybrid models, or positions on the spectrum. That would be plain wrong!

The Rise of Hybrid

But the illustration that tells the story is Figure 2. This shows a steady year-on-year decline in the use of Predictive approaches from 58% in 2020 to just under 44% in 2023. At the same time, Agile delivery rose slightly from 23% to a peak of 27% in 2022, before falling back to just under 25% in 2023. Overall, I think this line is flat, to within statistical variance. It is hybrid working that has risen and risen, from just 20% in 2020 to 31.5 in 2023.


What a shame, then, that the scaling on PMI’s chart is – for want of a better word – bonkers!

Below, I represent the figures they use on a simple Excel plot. I have inserted a low-resolution image of their published chart, used for educational purposes. This shows why I argue the Agile line is, effectively, flat.

Re-plot of Figure 2 - Use Of Hybrid Project Management Approaches Rising Among Project Professionals - PMI Pulse of the Profession, 2024

The PMI Figure 2 is clearly a picture, not a graph, and misrepresents the data.


How did you let a designer or second-rate analyst get away with that?

The Adoption of Hybrid in Different Industries

To me, a far more interesting chart is that in Figure 3. It’s a nice illustration (I have not checked how well the graphic represents the cited data values) of the different uptakes of Predictive, Agile, and Hybrid approaches in four sectors: IT, Financial Services, Healthcare, and Construction.

I’d like to have seen more sectors represented, but the data in in the appendices in Figure 17. So, too, by the way, is a breakdown by region, in Figure 18. As I’d expect, the construction sector skews massively to predictive PM, and the Healthcare sector less so. I was a little (but not very) surprised to see that the financial services sector skews towards agile. But what did surprise me is how balanced the uptakes of predictive, (52%), hybrid (55%), and agile (53%) are in the IT sector.

…and Different Regions

From the data table at Figure 18, we learn that uptake of Agile is lowest in the MENA, Asia Pacific, and China regions, with a high dependence on predictive working. Hybrid and agile working are highest in South Asia.

[MENA: Middle East and North Africa]

Lot’s of Data

There is plenty of other interesting data in this section, making this Pulse of the Profession report the most data-rich for a while. This sits alongside some short, mini case studies, and a PMI commentary which asserts that there is little variation in performance across organizations that choose one approach or another. It does, however, argue that organizations that are consistent in their way of working are slightly more successful, but the data looks marginal to me.

Summing-up Section 1: Choosing the Right Approach Is Just The Beginning

What the report does not attempt is to assess how well organizations are choosing their delivery approach. The consistency in performance may simply reflect a broadly similar level of wisdom in that selection. But that level of wisdom may be equally high, equally low, or equally mixed across organizations.

So, whilst I agree with three of PMI’s takeaways from this section, I find the third of the four to be unsupported by the data.

Pulse of the Profession 2024 - Four Takeaways from Section 1: ‘Choosing the Right Approach is Just the Beginning’

Learn More

Check out these articles:

Section 2: The Growth of Flexible Working
Breaking Myths — Different Work Arrangements Are Equally Effective

Insight #2

As we move away from the traditional, office-centric model, the demand for flexibility and the ability to work from anywhere are becoming key factors in how teams operate and deliver projects, with a significant majority of employees favoring flexible work models. Organizations need to adapt their strategies to a diverse array of scenarios, combining different management approaches and work arrangements to optimize team collaboration, innovation, agility and efficiency, as well as access to and retention of top talent.

In this section, PMI leans heavily on research from McKinsey.

To quote the report:

‘Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most organizations expected employees to spend more than 80% of their time in an office. … Today, however, only 10% of organizations expect in-person work all of the time, and 90% of organizations have embraced a range of flexible work models that allow employees to work remotely from off-site locations some or most of the time, according to McKinsey’s The State of Organizations 2023 report.’

A Perfect Metaphor

I like the metaphor that PMI interviewee, David Dabscheck, uses. He likens the shift in working practices to the introduction of television. At first, TV shows were much like radio plays that had been filmed. Eventually, producers learned to take full advantage of the opportunities of the new medium to innovate. We are still in the stage of trying to replicate office working practices through remote working. But we need to learn to adapt our practices to make use of the opportunities that flexible working offers us.

I will return to this metaphor later.

The Post-Covid SHift

PMI’s research shows a shift back to office working, following the peak of remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic. I don’t find this at all surprising.

In discussing the differences between senior leaders’ perceptions of the applicability of remote working and project managers’ experiences of taking it up, PMI speculates on the reasons. My own speculation is that we do not yet feel we have the skills and the toolsets to work remotely as effectively as we would like to, so the take up is less than I could be. But do read the report to assess your own point of view on PMI’s data and conclusions.

The Impact on Performance

Perhaps the most important conclusion PMI draws on this topic is this:

‘Data from the PMI 2023 Annual Global Survey on Project Management suggests that, comparatively, work location has no negative impact on project performance.’

They therefore argue that organizations do not need to bring more staff back to the office to gain performance improvements. I’d go further. Instead, they need to invest in tools and research, to find even better ways to enable effective remote collaboration.

I agree with all four of PMI’s takeaways from this section.

PMI Pulse of the Profession, 2024: Four Takeaways from Section 2 - ‘Breaking Myths — Different Work Arrangements Are Equally Effective’

Learn More

Check-out our guest article, Stakeholder Engagement: How to Make it Work Effectively in Hybrid Work Environments.

Section 3: The Need to Invest in Building Capabilities
The Future of Project Work — Enablers of Greater Project Performance

Insight #3

In today’s dynamic business environment, supporting the evolution of work styles is crucial. Organizations must not only provide technological tools but also focus on building employee capabilities to navigate the demands for flexibility and agility.

An Evergreen Topic

This section feels a little like PMI banging the same old drum. But, who am I to complain? It’s the same drum I have been banging for most of my professional life (over 30 of my 34 years of working). We need to support our professionals by offering support to their learning, development, and personal professional growth.

This is what, PMI claims, makes the measurable difference in project performance, across organizations. Sadly, however, PMI found that, among the Project Managers they surveyed, ‘less than one-half said their organization offers any single specific enabler such as mentoring programs or communities of practice.’

Yet they also found that ‘organizations that offer at least three enablers report significantly higher project performance rates.’


They illustrate this with a rather nice figure (Figure 12), that sadly once again distorts its axes.


The data are compelling without this nonsense.

Types of Professional Development

What I particularly like is Figure 15, which sets out the types of Enablers (professional development programs and interventions) and their relationship with project performance. This considers:

  • Coaching and mentoring to help project professionals plan and achieve professional development
  • Training on new ways of working
  • Communities of practice to share knowledge and expertise
  • Dedicated communication channels for employees to ask questions regarding changes
  • Training on resilience and managing change
  • Utilize vendors/consultants when introducing new ways of working
  • Employee resource groups to help navigate change
  • Support for managing change via mental health resources

These all have (to within 3.2%) the same impact on project performance. But the proportion of organizations offering these varies from just 48% at the top of my list, to a paltry 21% at the bottom.

I agree with all three of PMI’s takeaways from this section.

PMI Pulse of the Profession, 2024: Four Takeaways from Section 3 - ‘The Future of Project Work — Enablers of Greater Project Performance’

Learn More


Section 4: What Organizations Should Start Doing
The Bottom Line

PMI advocates that organizations should start doing three things.

Ways of Working

  1. Be aware that project teams are achieving comparable levels of performance with agile, hybrid, and predictive approaches. Choosing the right project management approach is the starting point; it is not enough to give the organization an edge in terms of increasing project performance rates.

This, to me, seems a pretty weak conclusion. I’d rather frame it around two programs:
1. Researching which approaches work best in the different contexts within the organization, and developing structured selection methodologies
2. Training project managers to better understand a wider range of approaches, methodologies, and frameworks, and to more effectively select and tailor approaches to achieve optimal ways of working

Widen Options around Work Locations

  1. Bridge the leadership perception gap around the myth that work location impacts productivity and effectiveness. Leaders need to empower teams to choose the right way of working and think beyond traditional, office-centric models.

Once again, this seems a wishy-washy recommendation, that needs some research oomph behind it, to allow project managers to find novel approaches to hybrid working regarding place of work and means of collaboration. Yes, there will be some failures and false starts. But, to continue David Dabscheck’s metaphor, there were some pretty poor TV shows through the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. But look at the shows we have had since the late 1990s, from The Sopranos and The West Wing, to Mad Men and The Wire, to Game of Thrones and Better Call Saul.

Support Professional Development

  1. Champion a holistic approach to provide critical enablers to help teams become more empowered; build new skills; nurture culture and resilience; and practice a continuous learning attitude. This approach will give the organization an advantage and contribute to greater project performance rates.

I don’t disagree with this at all. I just find it overly jargon-rich and hard to read. What’s wrong with ‘Do more to provide opportunities and resources for people to learn and grow, professionally’?

My Conclusion

Once again, PMI has produced an interesting report, filled with compelling evidence and interesting discussion. Yet it is marred by examples of weak analysis and downright fraudulent misrepresentation of the data. That said, the misrepresentation does not contradict what the data says – but it does amplify the apparent effect unnecessarily.

For an organization that makes such a big play (rightly) on the importance of professionalism, this is, well, unprofessional.

And that is sad.

But, what do you think?

Please do share your thoughts in the comments below. I’ll respond to every comment.

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Mike Clayton

About the Author...

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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