Even before the pandemic, change was brewing – big change. We know the pandemic caused disruption to the world of work, but we also know that it merely accelerated evolution, it didn’t necessarily cause it.
Even before March 2020, people had begun to ask “Why do we have to travel to work together in a single building?” When technology can link our data, resources and enable us to communicate as if we are together from anywhere in the world, why are we limiting our working practices to physical locations and times? In many cases, the answer was: “Because we have always done it this way.”
This new way of thinking, along with the rapid acceleration of social distancing and enforced home working, has given birth to the Work Anywhere Workforce.
What is the Work Anywhere Workforce?
It’s a new cohort who have a new set of expectations from their current and future employers – to trust them to get the job done without requiring them to travel to an office. There is also a call for employers to rethink work in terms of results-based measures of success and productivity, rather than counting the hours someone is physically present in a work environment. If the job is done, and done well, does it always matter when or where it took place? The pandemic has simply given credence to all of these arguments and removed barriers to implementing new ideas.
The Work Anywhere Workforce are looking for remote-first or remote-friendly employers, and see no reason why they have to commute into a shared built environment in order to get a job done when they are perfectly capable of doing the same role from home, or from anywhere with a secure Wifi connection.
Remote working isn’t new
Remote working, particularly within the tech industry, has been on the rise for some time. The pandemic turned it from a rising trend into the new normal overnight. As a result, millions of workers have been given the opportunity to prove their jobs can be done from home. Most found that productivity remained consistent and, as a result, trust blossomed. Employers realised they could treat their staff like grown ups and they would behave like grown ups. Employees realised they could reduce their commuting costs, spend more time on leisure activities or with their families, and be happier.
Accessibility isn’t simply a matter of geography
The length of a commute isn’t the only barrier to many employee/employer relationships.
- Professionals with disabilities or long-term health conditions often want to work, but find commuting or the expectation to be based full-time in an office a barrier to employment.
- Military spouses often need to relocate frequently, which affects their employment prospects. If their physical location is irrelevant it means they don’t need to worry about where their spouse’s next posting might be and can upsticks whenever necessary whilst maintaining continuity at work.
- Parents, or those with caring obligations, can be particularly benefited by flexibility.
- Older people who want to remain in employment and have a wealth of skills and experience to give may prefer the flexibility of remote working to enable them to maintain a comfortable pace of life but still keep their minds active and remain financially productive.
- Rural dwellers needn’t have to compromise on their lifestyle by renting midweek city pied-à-terres or having to manage exhausting commutes.
A win-win situation
This new breed of worker has changed how companies operate and will impact how employers attract, recruit and retain talent for years to come. Perhaps even permanently. Even as lockdown restrictions are lifted, many businesses are downsizing their office space whilst increasing the size of their workforce.
Job postings for remote roles increased 3-fold since the pandemic hit, and 40% of these roles were within the marketing and IT jobs markets. This isn’t only due to increased demand by employees, but also because employers have realised the benefits to them of adopting a flexible working policy.
The benefits of remote working include reduced overheads for both employer and employee, a positive environmental impact and increased employee satisfaction and loyalty. But, what is often overlooked is the potential for diversifying your workforce. The greatest benefit of all might be that we are all able to recruit from a much wider candidate pool. This is a massive benefit in sectors hit the most by the skills gap.
When commuting distance is removed from the equation, everyone benefits from increased choice and freedom of opportunity. Remote working can connect employees and employers who would otherwise be incompatible. The talent pool gets infinitely bigger – becoming that figurative talent ocean. With this growth, the potential for growth and prosperity for businesses increases, along with the potential for the wider economy and the labour market.
Increased opportunities and growth potential for all
The potential created when adopting a flexible working policy can be transformative. So, when you’re recruiting for your future workforce, or looking for your next career move, the same advice applies: If you’re casting your net only as wide as the average commute to/from an office location, are you really getting the best talent or role you could possibly attract? Or are there bigger, better fish out there? Food for thought.
Whether you’re looking to grow your team, or for the next step in your own career, we are eager to talk to you about it. Please get in touch.