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How will remote working impact businesses?

Posted 8 months ago by Heidi Moreby
Remote Working

Remote working has been one of the biggest buzz words over the course of the past year.

Whilst 2020 was many things, it undoubtedly accelerated the trend for remote working in office based environments. For instance in 2019, whilst 30% of the workforce held the opportunity to work remotely only 6% did so on a regular basis. Fast forward to 2020, and this figure grew to between 48-61% of workers depending on which studies you consider.

What is the future of remote working?

Towards the end of last year we did some digging into our candidate network to find out exactly what they are looking for from employers in 2021 and beyond.

A resounding 87% of job seekers are expecting some form of flexible working to remain in place from 2021 onwards, with 73% preferring a hybrid approach (a split between home and office working), compared to the 5% who would want full-time office working to remain in place.

How does more remote working impact businesses?

Talent acquisition

With the job market remaining so candidate driven, even during a recession, employers who are able to communicate and be flexible with remote working packages are likely to have a better chance of attracting the right employees for their business.

With candidates now trying to gain a stronger sense of a work/life balance, the willingness to undertake long commutes to city centre roles is declining and can be troubling news for city based businesses who rely on further afield talent.

However this can only be a negative if businesses fail to adapt to candidate needs and expectations. With 51% of candidates willing to accept a city centre based role if flexible working options are available, those businesses who implement and communicate their flexible offering throughout the application process are likely to have the most success in attracting talent.

Talent retention

Talent retention has been a challenge for some businesses throughout 2020 and moving into 2021. For many candidates furlough provided additional time to reflect and we saw more candidates than ever undertaking significant career changes through 2020. There were also candidates who raised concerns about how they were treated during this period, how their employer fared financially and whether or not they would have a stable role to return to.

In times like these some staff turnover is entirely natural and to be expected. However in some cases it can be prevented and offering an attractive benefits package can really help with this.

Though many employers often assume elements like competitive salaries and social benefits are key, many employees would be willing to take a cut here if it meant they were compensated better in other areas. In fact, at present the number one reason candidates will stay with a company is their ability to offer a flexible working package which suits their lifestyle.

More competitive business model

Businesses incorporating flexible working into their employee benefits package are likely to have a competitive edge.

Julia Williams, our Senior In-House consultant, believes this means that “businesses are likely to become more competitive in the market, as candidates are more likely to apply/commit to roles that offer home working” creating an opportunity for businesses to attract talent that previously may have been won over by competitor offers.

Additionally, due to offering a flexible working model “businesses will be able to reach a wider pool of talent and can target certain geographical areas where competitors may be based”, opening up the talent pool to a wider range of prospective candidates.

This is especially beneficial for those businesses looking to recruit for niche hard to find skillsets, who otherwise may have been put off by location and the prospect of a lengthy daily commute. And is especially beneficial in the agency market, where access to a broader talent field may help to reduce pressures associated with the digital skills shortage.

What remote working means for freelance services

The benefits of remote working are not just limited to permanent employees, opening up your business to more flexibility is likely to have a positive impact if you are looking to utilise freelance support.

Many freelancers have experienced working remotely throughout their careers, it’s nothing new to them. The quality of their work and their productivity levels have to remain high whether they are office based or working from a home office set up. The introduction of more remote working in more businesses will mean they will be even less restricted by location.

As with permanent employees this is likely to open up the talent pool further, giving businesses greater access to niche skillsets faster than ever.

But there is also another benefit. Ellie Tibbs, our senior freelance and interim consultant believes one of the biggest benefits outside of skill access will be the availability of cheaper rates.

“Candidates often have two rates. Normally remote work comes out as being slightly cheaper, because they do not need to make adjustments to their workload or budgets to account for travel to and from location, which can be beneficial for businesses operating on a tighter budget.”

It is clear that implementing more remote and flexible working can have numerous benefits on business recruitment drives and talent retention. To gain a clearer understanding about candidate wants and needs in todays market, you can download our “The future of work” report for free.


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Header: Image adapted from Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels