A new survey shows a growing appetite for hiring remote workers, but greater reticence about advertising for them. Is this just a time lag thing?
Are businesses more likely to consider hiring someone on a remote basis as a result of Covid?
A new poll shows that there is much more interest, although the number who say they would hire someone remotely contrasts with how many advertise remote working. The poll of 280 business leaders, conducted by Management Today (MT) and Hays, found 55 per cent would now be more likely to consider hiring an employee who was not within commuting distance to the office, meaning they would work mainly or fully remotely. However, just a third were advertising jobs as either partly or fully based at home. Most, however, anticipated doing so in the future.
Advertising of flexible jobs has long been an issue, whether that is part time [a particular issue for senior jobs], job shares, flexi-hours or remote or hybrid working. Often candidates have to tread the tricky path of when to bring up the subject at interview. This is especially the case for people who already have flexibility in their jobs and are looking to switch. Yet demand is high, especially for remote working jobs and likely to be higher still now.
A recent report from the CBI and Pwc shows that nearly three quarters of employers are reviewing their office space requirements in anticipation of greater remote and hybrid working. There has been a lot of talk about the transformation of the office in the last months, with some announcements that the office is now dead. That is unlikely to be the case, but it will change. Employers are asking themselves what the office is for and how it needs to be reconfigured. Is it for meeting, brainstorming and so forth? Does that change the organisation’s culture and if so, how is that culture maintained across both different offices and remote platforms?
It has been interesting to observe the discussions as someone who has worked for a remote employer for over a decade. It’s a small company, but there is a definite culture of support and shared values. All the talk about remote workers not being able to forge relationships doesn’t ring true either. Maybe that is because the organisation I work for is small, but larger organisations also operate within smaller teams. I do meet up with colleagues from time to time for social and work-based events, though not in the last few months. However, we do meet online for social events – this week there was an online mindfulness session. For work, we have regular zoom meetings and, before Covid, conference calls. We IM each other regularly. We call each other on the phone. We talk about non-work issues, particularly our children – though this is, of course, linked to the nature of our work. Several of my colleagues came to my daughter’s funeral and they have been of tremendous support in the months after her death. Yes, there can be a sense of isolation that comes with remote working which is not for everyone, but we do all tend to pull together and help each other out. Maybe it’s the nature of the work – or the people. Of course, you can’t extrapolate from one small example, but it’s definitely not like we are all working on our own. Culture at the end of the day is about people and values.
Each organisation and each team will have their own issues and will have to work through these, but that shouldn’t put employers off. It will be interesting to watch over the next months if they do start advertising part or fully remote roles and what the response is. It will also be interesting to watch over time what this does to house prices, smaller cities, rural areas and the like. With a proper, locally developed strategy and funding, it could be transformative.