While remote working certainly existed before the Covid-19 pandemic, it wasn’t so commonly offered by employers or desired by employees. But after a long period of time being forced to operate away from the traditional office environment, perspectives have changed.
Businesses had to adapt to a remote-working model, bringing in systems and infrastructures to run their operations in a decentralised way. There are benefits and drawbacks of remote working, for both companies and their staff.
For a business, offering remote working can led to a more incentivised and engaged workforce, as well as the potential practical aspects of reduced overheads (for example if less office space is required). It also increases the talent pool that a company can recruit from when location is less relevant, and employees are less likely to be absent (for minor sickness, for example) when they can work from home.
For employees, remote work can offer a better work-life balance, less time spent commuting and greater flexibility. It can also promote independence and a greater ownership over their own workload.
However, not everyone enjoys being fully remote – it can be a lonely experience for some, with meaningful exchanges only happening on Zoom. Not everyone is self-motivated enough to work at home, and there are plentiful distractions around the house. Creativity and brainstorming often works better in person as opposed to online, and it’s harder to build a close team dynamic remotely. Employees may also feel more dissociated from the company that they work for when operating from their home office space.
So, clearly, some measure remote working is worth building into a new job role to reap the benefits and attract talent who are looking for some flexibility in their work pattern. However, what is more difficult to pin down, is what the expectation of remote working looks like. Is it fully remote, occasional visits to the office as required, or a set pattern of days spent working remotely and in the office?
What do employees and employers want from remote working?
Remote work, whether fully remote or hybrid roles, is something that employees are looking for when exploring new career options. Not just as a perk either – but as an expectation. In our article in February 2022, our data showed that 69% of those asked would only consider fully remote jobs, or roles with occasional office visits. At the other end of the scale, only 3% would consider a full-time return to the office.
This is supported by research from the Office of National Statistics, in its report entitled ‘Is hybrid working here to stay?’. That showed that 8 in 10 workers in February 2022 who had worked from home during the pandemic planned to continue with a hybrid model of work. And of all workers surveyed, 24% were hybrid working as of May 2022 (a rise from 13% in February 2022) and there was a drop in those working exclusively from home in the same period, from 22% to 14%.
This suggests that this year has seen a gradual return to an office environment, but very few (8% as of February 2022) planned to return permanently to their place of work. The most common hybrid working pattern reported (42% in February 2022) was mostly working from home with occasional visits to their usual place of work. Pre-pandemic, hybrid working would have been more widely considered the other way around – working mostly from the office with occasional work from home. It seems that our definition of ‘remote’ and ‘hybrid’ working has evolved. Hybrid working patterns are more common among those who earn a higher income, and among those aged 30-49 years.
The survey data also looked at the reported benefits of remote or hybrid working, with the top three advantages being an improved work-life balance, fewer distractions and being quicker to complete work. Employers also gave their top reasons for why they would offer more homeworking within their business models, and these included improved staff wellbeing, reduced overheads and increased productivity.
Remote and hybrid working trends are predicted to be here to stay in 2023. As employees continue to seek flexible working roles, companies need to continue to adapt and offer terms that will enable them to attract the best talent. The data shows that job seekers are open to a hybrid model of remote working (as opposed to fully remote), so the key is finding that balance between office days and remote days to reap the benefits for everyone. At present, the balance tips towards more days at home than in the office overall, but it will be interesting to see if this changes over the coming year.
Whether you’re a business looking to tailor your job descriptions to maximise applications from the best talent, or you’re looking for a role that offers a hybrid working pattern that suits you, then get in touch with us today. We have a wealth of experience in recruiting for office-based, remote-working and hybrid roles, as well as a deep understanding of industry trends.