The appeal of working remotely isn’t hard to fathom: surrounded by home comforts, no lengthy commutes, and the freedom to work uninterrupted (when the kids aren’t at home, of course). But how can it help you to win in the war for talent?

The grip of the pandemic may have sent the world into a tailspin, but it also served to highlight something that many businesses have been reluctant to acknowledge in years gone by: a lot of jobs can be executed just as well from home. 

There will of course always be exceptions to the rule – and people who want to head back to the workplace full-time. But for those who are happy to meld their home lives with their professional pursuits, the cessation of remote working could cause heads to turn. 

With a distinct shortage of candidates in the market right now, and a fierce battle for talent set to ensue, that’s not a situation any employer will be quick to welcome.


The increasing attraction of flexible working 

In a recent Randstad survey of 6,000 UK candidates, the opportunity for flexible working ranked as the 2nd most important factor when deciding whether or not to accept a new job – behind only salary, and equal to career progression. In fact, this year saw the importance of flexibility knock job location out of the top five for the first year ever. 

Flexible working options also appeared as the fourth most popular reason to remain with an employer, while the desire for more flexible hours emerged as the fifth biggest driver behind people wishing to change sectors. We also found that over half (51%) of shift workers would like more flexibility in their shift patterns

However, despite its appeal, only 17% of people would definitely feel confident in asking for flexible working; 29% probably would; 26% were unsure; 17% probably wouldn’t, and 11% definitely wouldn’t. 


Appealing to a new dynamic

Before the pandemic, just 16% of our survey respondents worked from home. Since the pandemic, 11% enjoyed a hybrid working set-up and 26% are working fully remote. In our REBR report, of the 55% of employees who started to work more remotely during the pandemic, 60% were involved in the decision-making process. However, we also found that 44% continued to work as normal – a figure that rose to 51% for men. 

The most important thing in the decision to continue, or to offer, remote working as an ongoing option is to talk to your people about their wants and needs. 

For some, work is a refuge and a chance to socialise, focus, and feel part of something; for others, home-working fits far better with family life, eases certain stresses, and allows for a better work-life balance. 


How to support remote working

Commute time was flagged in our survey as an important issue when considering a new role, but the option of remote working renders this somewhat obsolete. This does of course allow employers to target a much wider pool of candidates than when confined by geographical parameters.

But with the working environment ranking as the fifth most influential factor in accepting a job offer, it’s important not to neglect workplace culture if remote working becomes the norm.

We’d advise scheduling team check-ins, one-to-ones, virtual coffee chats, regular surveys to monitor wellbeing, open communication around workloads and stress levels, the option of in-person meet-ups for anyone feeling isolated, and of course the choice of hybrid working for those who thrive on a mix of old and new.  

Remote working can be an incredible draw to job seekers, and a valid reason for your existing employees to stay – so wield it wisely.