Our 2020 Salary Guide identified rising trends from the latter half of 2019 that we expected to see a rise in 2020. With everyday working life impacted across the globe by Coronavirus and lockdown across the UK, we thought it would be interesting to reflect on our 2020 trends and give an insight into how our trend predictions may be altered in the post-corona working world.
One of our identified trends was the rise in demand for flexible and remote working.
Our Salary Guide stated:
“Flexible working was set to be a rising recruitment trend for 2020 with the South-West having the highest percentage of part-time employment at 30.2%. With 47% of the UK’s full-time employees receiving flexible working hours as part of their contract, flexible working is becoming a key component in a candidate’s decision-making process when looking for new employment.
Flexibility in the workplace is frequently something our candidates are keen to discuss when reviewing a potential position. Companies offering flexible working arrangements are becoming increasingly more attractive to candidates trying to find the right work/life balance. 22% of UK workers have changed company or department to find greater flexibility, demonstrating the strength flexible working plays on employment opportunities at present”
One reason many employers refrain from considering flexible or remote working options is largely due to the feeling that implementing a remote workforce would be too big of a change. However, lockdown for the UK, enforced as a result of coronavirus, has thrown many companies into making these big changes resulting in full workforces now working in a remote capacity. This has compelled companies to roll out these big changes and almost test whether remote working would be a viable option for them. Likewise, employees are now experiencing the real truth of remote working, the upside of flexibility and the reality of managing a cohesive and productive work/life balance – whilst avoiding the endless snack supply and opportunities for procrastination!
This real-time “remote working experiment” comes with its pros and cons for the rising trend of flexible working. With international visits now becoming video conferences, commuting expensive null and void and reduced overhead per employee, there seems to be a financial upside to remote working. Alongside this, candidates are increasingly attracted to companies offering flexible working options widening the candidate pool to secure top tier talent, absence from work appears to be lower as it is comparatively easier for an employee to work from the comforts of their home whilst suffering from a cold and overall remote working provides better flexibility for a work/life balance for those with childcare.
However, the truth remains that there are still many companies that ultimately cannot incorporate a flexible framework into their infrastructure - driving the need for manned offices. Alongside this companies have found remote working can cause increased pressure on IT firms to deliver connections over Virtual Private Networks or VPNs, challenges in measuring or tracking employee’s performance and difficulties in ensuring maintained security for data protection.
Ultimately, even before the pandemic remote and/or flexible working was an accelerating and attractive trend to many potential candidates looking for a new position. The pandemic has compelled companies to trial run the viability of incorporating remote and flexible working patterns into their business, and all employees the chance to see if remote working is for them. Allowing us all to identify the pros - such as not having to take a long-distance flight for one meeting, in conjunction with highlighting the further infrastructural developments needed to maintain remote working as a viable option.
Although there does seem promise that many companies will begin to incorporate more flexibility and remote working options to their businesses, we may all find ourselves increasingly ready for face to face social office interaction after a few months! A complete office working remotely for a temporary period seems, to me, almost achievable but one key aspect is keeping morale present whilst working remotely is the bond between team members. The developed and established relationships between you and the client or supplier or customer or candidate. This bond is formed from real, face to face interaction. If we developed a completely remote working environment, the achievability of creating these relationships diminish. Imagine being new at a company you only ever communicate within a digital capacity? We think flexible working will continue to be a rising trend for 2020 but perhaps the real key lies in creating a balanced work/life relationship.