- Job searches for flexible work are up 32%, while major companies are reining in their remote staff, reports Hiring Lab, Indeed’s research unit. Indeed cites results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey, which shows that the percentage of at-home workers grew from 19% to 22% between 2003 and 2016, as evidence for a growing remote workforce.
- But as more job seekers want flexible work schedules, some of the most high-profile employers are calling remote staff back into the office, notes Indeed. IBM, Best Buy, Wall Street Journal, Reddit and Aetna recently reined in their remote workers. Indeed's researchers say these companies want more control over employees’ daily work and better collaboration in the office.
- More employees want flexible work schedules despite the existence of a tight labor market, which is estimated to have one job opening for every unemployed worker. That could mean employers who aim to reverse the telecommuting trend are at a disadvantage in the race to attract and hire top talent, says Indeed.
IBM’s marketing staff reportedly wasn't happy about being permanently called back into the office. That kind of reaction shouldn't’ surprise HR; employees are generally reluctant to give up convenient benefits. Employers who take this route risk losing their competitiveness in recruiting, hiring and retaining staff.
To avoid those risks, employers might consider offering remote work opportunities to employees who want and need them, creating ways to keep those workers engaged and productive (like teleconferencing or Skype meetings) and/or inviting them to special in-office events. Don't forget to keep an eye on burnout.
Another recent survey shows an interesting generational divide on the issue: young employees prefer working in-office over working at home because they value social interaction and want the office visibility that can advance their careers. The same study shows that older generations prefer flexible work schedules that allow them to work from home.
Open offices, or layouts without walls, partitions or defined workspaces, might appeal to younger workers and others who prefer daily personal interaction with coworkers. Employers just need to be mindful that not all employees find open spaces conducive to work. They might like being in the office, but also require quiet, partitioned spaces to perform their work.