One of the biggest changes to our working practices for many years has been the sudden shift to working from home. Thanks to lockdown, it is now so common that it is almost an expectation, and the abbreviation WFH has slipped into regular use. It’s wrong to simply put this down to Covid, though. Pre-lockdown there had already been a notable shift towards offering WFH where practical. Back in 2019 BC (Before Covid), remote working was seriously considered and was, for the most part anyway, a long-term change in practice. It is probably fair to say that it was often offered as a perk at that time. Remote working was an option but still an unusual one.
How things have changed!
When we were forced into remote working due to the Covid situation, many of us resented it, and it could be argued that this has helped obscure some really very positive aspects. For the employer, offering a remote working option can be quite beneficial. For the candidate, it could tempt them into accepting a job requiring some niche skills or experience, or it could even push a passive candidate into moving to a new team.
Working from home could motivate change
For the employer, there is often a financial benefit to having remote employees. Not having part of the workforce on site can directly translate into savings on bottom-line costs for utilities and the upkeep of working areas. More importantly, though, is that prospective employees are now expecting to be able to work from home. We are seeing candidates asking for roles with a WFH offer. This may well be partly due to concerns over Covid but, whatever the reasons, WFH has now become a requested option and almost an expectation.
For the candidate, some remote working in a job offer means:
– Working to suit their own schedules
– The ability to allocate time to pursue other interests
– Increased flexibility around caring responsibilities
– No commute or other additional wasted time
– Lower travel and subsistence costs
– No need for additional clothing expense
– Childcare becomes less of an issue
One thing that probably could be a factor for some time to come is the possibility of homeschooling. The year 2020 has changed our view on what it means to have a child off school. What was once a rare event because a child was unwell suddenly became a long-term commitment. Maybe this will stop being a factor at some point but, until it does, the prospect of suddenly having a homeschooling requirement is still there.
This raises whether not offering a WFH option could reduce an employer’s chances of attracting the right candidate. Lockdown hasn’t changed the fact that skills gaps are still a big problem in some industries, so anything that increases the candidate pool has got to be a good thing. Not offering a remote working option in the job specification could arguably reduce the size of the application pool by automatically (albeit unintentionally) restricting which candidates can apply. New parents, those with homeschooling duties, people who care for others and those who want a more flexible calendar may not look as favourably on the vacancy. Candidates will understandably also look for the better option in terms of salary, but this is not the motivator that people sometimes believe it to be. A few pounds extra at the end of the month is probably not as attractive as something that increases the candidate’s quality of life.
There can be negatives to working from home
Not that working from home doesn’t have a negative side. It can do, and we have all seen the bad side of enforced remote working recently. The problem of isolation and lack of ‘social’ work-related contact has been a real eye-opener. Although there is a positive result to some extent, in that we are all more aware of mental well-being and mental health issues are now receiving more attention, a nationwide lockdown was a difficult way for this awareness to come to prominence.
These days, WFH has gone from a rarity to enforced common practice. Perhaps one result of that is that there is a sort of resentment towards WFH that didn’t exist before. I suppose we just don’t like to be told what to do. However, when the covid crisis passes, it is probably well worth considering the pros and cons of keeping some option for remote working in a job specification. It may help ensure employers get the best candidates applying.
As always, we are here to discuss your employment needs, so why not give us a call or drop us a line to arrange a chat.