Flexible Working - The New Expectation

In-office work is returning, but candidates aren’t buying it. In this, the candidate’s market, it’s flexibility or bust.

A few months into 2022, we’re starting to see the real effects of the WFH experiment. In 2020, the internet was awash with thinkpieces on how the world of work would be changed forever by the pandemic. However, it's only now that the actual reality of work in the post-pandemic era is emerging. And, as expected, the future is remote. 

But of course, not everyone is happy about this. The disconnect when it comes to what employers and employees want is well documented, with most workers favoring hybrid or remote models. The fallout from this workplace tug of war has many names - The Great Resignation, The Great Reshuffle, The Great Migration - and what it has created is a candidate’s market, where employees have more leverage than ever before. Study after study is showing that talent is calling the shots, and what they’re demanding is flexibility, or they’ll look elsewhere. 

Great Expectations - Out with the old, in with the new

LinkedIn’s 2022 Global Talent Trends report spells it out in black and white - flexibility is one of the great drivers changing the employment market. Post-pandemic, workers now know the benefits of working remotely. They’ve seen the light, and now there’s no going back. Flexibility is becoming a key value proposition for employers - there has been an 83% increase in job postings on LinkedIn that mention flexibility since 2019, while there have been a whopping 383% more mentions of flexibility in company posts in the same time frame. 

According to The Employee Expectation Report by Oyster HR, 59% of respondents expect the ability to work from anywhere. Tiffany Dyba, a recruiter in New York, spoke to the New York Times for their Future of Work issue about the state of recruiting for the tech industry. In the interview, contained in an article from the issue, Dyba says that “​​the nature of work has changed so much that sometimes, she knows, the recruits don’t care: Their top priority is remote work; and if they are going to be doing data analytics at home, a basic disconnect from the larger business can easily set in.” 

The same article pointed out that when recruiters send out email blasts, the responses (if there are any), sometimes say only three words -  “Rate? Remote? Client?”. Clearly, flexibility is at least on an equal footing with remuneration. 

Flex Culture - Company culture rebooted

LinkedIn’s report is calling this “a watershed moment for company culture”. The expectations for flexibility in the current jobs market are leading researchers and experts to call this new paradigm “flex culture”. “Flex work puts new demands on company culture, which must now deliver an equitable experience for every employee, no matter where or when they work. Strong, highly functional cultures will work well no matter what time zone you live in or what time of day you do your work,” the report explains. 

Slack’s Future Forum Pulse survey says that 72% of workers who are dissatisfied with their current level of flexibility at work say they are likely to look for a new job in the next year. The survey also reported that 78% of respondents said they want location flexibility while 95% want schedule flexibility. So, the where and the when are the primary motivators for flexibility. The why also plays into the sea change in company culture - candidates are seeking culture’s that champion purpose as well as performance, and passion alongside output. 

Wellbeing - Flexibility for life

Flex culture also embodies a seismic shift in where a company’s priorities lie. The Global Talent Trends report states that “Companies are recognizing that the key to their own success starts with fostering a culture that prioritizes the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of their employees.” The impact of company cultures that prioritize employee wellbeing is clear - employees that feel like their company cares about them are three times happier at work and are almost four times as likely to recommend working for that company. In the age where attracting talent is a battle hard fought and even harder won, pivoting company culture to be more in line with employee expectations will not only boost your resourcing capabilities but will also positively affect your bottom line. 

The Hiring Crisis - A candidate’s market

Hiring is in crisis - the job market has never been so buoyant, but never before has hiring been so challenging. Traditionalist employers are lagging way behind remote-first organizations in terms of the hiring war. Ryan Sutton, a tech recruiter for staffing firm Robert Half, told the New York Times, “If you are not going to offer remote work if you’re not going to offer at least hybrid, we can’t help you.” Not only that, but recruiters are going after the staff of any company that is digging their heels in about a return to the office, meaning that candidates have more leverage and power than ever before. 

A by-product of this hiring crisis is near-shoring, a process that is set to become a major trend in 2022 in response to staffing shortages, according to Prosperity’s annual Salary and Employment Survey for 2022. This is a practice where a tech company’s operations are relocated to a nearby country, as opposed to a distant one. Near-shoring works in tandem with flexible and hybrid work practices for many digital sector workers.