What do you prefer: on-site, hybrid or remote? The pandemic forced us to work remotely as a temporary solution, and pretty much killed on-site roles when working restrictions were lifted. The fact is that the vast majority of people don’t want to be in the office every day, and many don’t want to be in at all.
Hybrid has become the standard since working restrictions have been relaxed, but new data suggests that remote may become far more common, as it is in tech where 40% of professionals now work remotely.
So what is driving the rise of remote roles?
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Competition for candidates has forced many businesses to offer hybrid roles whether they want to or not. But while hybrid may well suit many in theory, the term is nuanced; covering a vast array of policies, expectations and rigid formulas.
Rigid hybrid policies disenfranchise applicants, something that no industry with a shrinking talent pool can afford. Many candidates are likely to stay put where they already have good working relations with their employer. To fight retention, employers are being forced to offer more competitive flexibility options to keep the talent coming, hence more remote roles on offer.
But remote has more advantages than just employee satisfaction. For the forward thinking employer, remote hiring vastly expands the talent pool, particularly in terms of diversity, something many STEM-based industries suffer from.
Fully flexible roles are very attractive to working parents, particularly working mothers, who are statistically more likely to bear the responsibility of primary care giver, with up to 25% leaving the workforce in the UK following childbirth. Women in general are 9% more likely than men to take a job due to remote perks and 7% more likely to quit a job that doesn’t offer flexible working options.
In addition, the cost of maintaining offices is drastically reduced or non-existent, with an equal reduction in carbon footprint. The so called ‘green recovery’ has become extremely important in today’s heightened environmental conscious, and the chance to contribute rewards both companies and employees alike.
Green savings also translate into tangible remuneration; lack of commuter costs save employees thousands a year, once again heightening satisfaction and thus retention. This is never an excuse to be paid less, as employers are now competing on a global scale for talent. The employer hiring in Manchester is now competing not just with London, but every other vertical on the planet.
In 2022, a developer living in Sweden can take on a job in Costa Rica for a globally competitive salary; and that’s the way that aspiring companies need to think, in order to secure premium talent from every sector.
The corruption of hybrid
The term hybrid has become slightly corrupted, in turn driving the popularity of remote roles. Far from merely having the option to come into the office, most companies now expect employees to make a minimum number of appearances.
This resistance undermines the whole point of flexible options: to support employees in optimising their work-life balance, and in so doing, maximising their productivity. Arguments for “cultural fit” or “company culture” don’t really add up if, given the option, most employees don’t come in.
The element of trust is once again being eroded; employees need to be given the choice to plan office visits for themselves for hybrid systems to function productively and for company culture to develop organically.
If employers continue to prescribe rigid formulas for flexibility, then it is likely that competitively priced remote roles will start to dominate the market. Such changes can already be seen nationally in the UK with the number of remote roles rising 20% in the last month alone according to Hazelwood.
However, that doesn’t mean that offices will die. Fully remote roles often mean there is no office, which is far from ideal for most people. Many of us love and need the option of coming into the office for a variety of well established reasons, and that isn’t likely to change. The social interaction and in person team bonding are all plusses for many people, and for those with less than ideal working conditions, the office remains essential.
This is why coming in has to remain an option, not a rule, for the system to work. This is again backed up by Hazelwood, showing that 51% of employees who currently have the choice to mix remote and office work would leave their company if this flexibility was removed.
The power to choose is liberating and attractive. Professionals will always need the choice to decide for themselves how they would like to work, and the best companies get this, offering fully flexible, fully compensated opportunities that keep talent happy.
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