Employees are Flexing their Right to Work Remotely

After nearly two years of either working at home or hybrid working there is a growing disconnect between employees reluctant to return to their desks and executives pushing to get them back — and that is exacerbating the challenges businesses are having globally in attracting and retaining employess in a white-hot labor market.

In a recent CNBC interview, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff observed that the popularity of remote work had caught corporate chiefs by surprise:

“Not as many employees are coming back into their offices as any CEO expected,” “You’re really starting to see some very low attendance numbers in offices because employees are so productive at home.”

The Great Resignation

In what’s become known as the great resignation, more and more people are leaving their jobs in search of a better lifestyle, with many having relished their lockdown-enforced experience of remote working and the extra freedom it’s given them.

Job vacancies in the UK hit an all-time high in 2021, with the number of open posts exceeding 1 million for the first time, according to the Office for National Statistics. As more sectors of the economy have re-opened, demand for talent is has fast outstripped supply and it’s now most definitely an employees’ market.

This was mirrored across the pond in America when in August 2021 US Job Openings Hit Fresh Record High, nearly 1 million vacancies above market expectations of 10.0 million.  And this trend is backed up by a survey from HR consultancy Randstad, which has found that a whopping 70% of employees are feeling “confident to move to a new job in the next couple of months”. 

Location is Unimportant – Connectivity is Key

Workers themselves have already made that physical and mental shift – they can and will work where they want to. U.S Recruiting software platform iCIMS reports that almost 1 out of 4 job applications submitted last year came from out-of-state candidates, and that number remains high today with roughly 1 in 5 candidates applying for out-of-state jobs.

R. Wang, founder and CEO of Constellation Research Inc. believes that having a dispersed workforce prior to the pandemic gave his Silicon Valley-based firm an edge in hiring.

“We’ve never been constrained by geography. I think it’s been helpful in that regard”

Improve Technology to Support Remote Work

One key measure organizations must take is to upgrade their technology,

“especially if that enables people to improve their work/life balance through hybrid working”

says Dr Grace Lordan, associate professor in behavioural science at the London School of Economics.

Modern workers, despite having a strong desire to self-manage, are still equally interested in feedback, connection, comradery, and human interaction. Using technology effectively, businesses can help their employees embrace and thrive in a remote position from anywhere in the world. From streamlining communications to fostering company culture, technology can make the difference between a happy hybrid workplace and a complete failure, where employees simply vote with their feet.

While technologies were already transforming operations before Covid-19, the pandemic was an inflection point. The Coronavirus crisis made crystal clear the need to upgrade technology to support remote workers and assure inclusion for every employee no matter their location.