In 2021, we saw the beginning of what has become widely known as the ‘hybrid working’ trend. In the aftermath of the lockdowns of 2020 caused by the global pandemic, many office workers who had never considered the possibility of working from home now had an appetite to continue doing so, either on a full time or hybrid basis. Data from Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Report backs this up, showing that although there has been a significant return to work (30% below the baseline in January 2021 versus 80% below the baseline in the peak of the pandemic in April 2020), we are still well below the pre-pandemic levels of office based working.
When looking at the benefits and flexibility working from home can offer, it’s easy to see why: according to Finder, 2 separate surveys found that ‘around two-thirds of employees say they’re more productive when working from home’, and ‘two-thirds of employers report increased productivity for remote workers compared to in-office workers.’ Couple this with reduced costs associated with working from home (Finder found that on average, workers will save ‘£44.78 a week by cutting out things like commuting and buying lunch out’), as well as the time back from the daily commute, which now averages at 59 minutes in the UK, it’s clear why this new way of working appeals. But in spite of this, some businesses remain reluctant to take the next step and begin hiring permanently remote staff. In this article, we will be discussing why now is the perfect time for businesses to be assessing their long-term plans and considering the many benefits that remote and hybrid work models can offer.
Wider talent pool
As we have discussed in depth within our 2022 Salary Survey, it is becoming increasingly evident that hiring sufficiently skilled and qualified staff for your business is no mean feat. A strategy to combat this is to begin advertising roles with the option to work remotely on a permanent basis. In doing so, you are no longer limited to recruiting on a geographical basis but can instead focus on recruiting based on the skillsets that you require for your role. With the technology now available to businesses, it no longer makes sense to miss out on recruiting the best talent purely because you are stipulating that they need to be able to show up to the office every day: all the evidence we have available now points towards remote working being a viable option that leads to increased productivity and higher output for businesses. However, if you are unable to take the plunge to hiring fully remote workers, even being able to offer a hybrid role is likely to increase the quantity of candidates available to you; offering flexibility allows those highly qualified candidates who have other commitments, such as caring responsibilities, to apply for your roles and widens the pool of talent you can recruit from exponentially.
When the pandemic hit back in March 2020, businesses were forced to massively overhaul their processes and find a new way of working and communicating virtually overnight. As challenging as it may have been, this overhaul in the way we work has now led to the possibility of business continuation on a national, company and individual level. External factors or circumstances that might previously have required business as usual to falter or even cease totally are now in many cases simple to circumvent; for example, extreme weather or loss of office internet will no longer be a cause for the business to close or become a company-wide issue. Similarly, an employee who might previously have had to book time off to have maintenance at their property can now simply work from home with minimal disruption to their working day and to the business itself. The ability to utilize the technology we have for remote working provides a mutual flexibility for both employer and employee that businesses should be capitalising on.
Improved employee retention
Given the many benefits that home-working offers, such as flexibility, time back, increased work-life balance, decreased stress and cost-saving opportunities, it makes sense that offering the option for remote working to new hires will not only increase your talent pool for recruitment but also aid in keeping your existing staff onboard. A recent poll of LinkedIn users conducted by Heat found that almost a quarter of responders (24%) considered the number one reason for leaving their job would be due to a lax of work flexibility. In the current market, there is increasing evidence that allowing employees the option to work from home is an excellent way of retaining your highly skilled and incorporated team members, making it an essential consideration.
In 2022, we are all looking for more ways to go green, and there are definite environmental benefits that result from switching to a hybrid/remote worker model. The Government Department for Transport report of May 2021 into Transport and Environmental statistics found that almost 70% of people drive to work in individual cars, and this type of travel is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions within the UK. Equally, a report from Finder found that ‘if those with remote compatible jobs worked at home half the time it could result in saving 54 million tons of greenhouse gas – the equivalent of taking 10 million cars off the road.’ To add to this, digital communication and work processes have resulted in less paper wastage as there is no need to print documents which can be sent electronically. By introducing a remote/hybrid work model, the need for lengthy commutes and electricity to power offices can be significantly cut or reduced. As an added bonus for businesses, the cut back in emissions and power can also result in fewer overheads: a win-win for you and the environment.
The reality is that home-working looks set to stay in some form or another for the foreseeable future. Employees are now looking for this degree of flexibility when they’re seeking new positions, with the option to work from home now expected as standard. If your business is not offering this option, it’s likely that you are putting yourself at a real disadvantage when it comes to hiring new talent and narrowing your options significantly. In order to futureproof your business and to be able to attract the candidates with the skillsets you need, considering offering an option for remote working is vital.