Remote war rages on. What’s your take?
Career

Remote war rages on. What’s your take?

We are currently witnessing a large-scale social experiment unfold:   Can we be just as effective when working from home?   Are we just as engaged, productive, and happy?   The COVID-19 pandemic forced many workplaces to shut their doors entirely, resulting in millions of workers being required to work from home.   Now, three years […]

August 11th, 2023
*

Abby.

Founder

A search expert making key hires for over twenty years.

We are currently witnessing a large-scale social experiment unfold:

 

Can we be just as effective when working from home?

 

Are we just as engaged, productive, and happy?

 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many workplaces to shut their doors entirely, resulting in millions of workers being required to work from home.

 

Now, three years later, coronavirus is under control. We can freely socialise and engage in the activities we used to do, including working from the office.

 

However, it is predicted that today nearly 40% of UK workers work from home at least one day a week. In fact, a recent survey found that 65% of workers say that they want to work remotely all of the time, 32% prefer a hybrid setup, and only 3% want to return to the office full-time. The appeal of remote work is so high that 57% of workers would look for a new job if their current organisation didn’t offer any remote or hybrid working opportunities.

 

Put simply, today’s talent wants flexibility in where they work. But, is it keeping us as engaged, productive, and happy?

 

Let’s break down the remote work debate:

 

The current scope

Since the pandemic, approximately 90% of organisations have embraced a range of hybrid work models that allow their employees to work off-site some or most of the time. Following their experience with these models, it is reported that more than 4 out of every 5 employees want them to continue.

The increasing popularity of hybrid work has resulted in over 70% of HR executives now struggling to retain talent when adhering solely to on-site work policies. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that employers who offer flexible working arrangements are excelling in both hiring and talent retention.

 

 

Why is remote working proving so popular?

For employees, flexibility remains the biggest reason why remote and hybrid work setups are proving so popular.

Today’s talent report that it improves their work-life balance by avoiding lengthy commutes, allowing them to better work around other important things in their lives:

 

“Working hybrid, I’ve changed my life. I live in the country, walk my dog, and grow my wildlife garden. I get to watch the seasons change and volunteer at my local food bank. When I go up to London, I enjoy the delights of the big city, my colleagues’ company, and gain new insights. None of this would be possible without the flexibility of hybrid working.”

 

 

What is the picture for productivity?

It appears more complicated than we think. With several disturbances over the last few years, including a pandemic, layoffs, and inflation, experts say that they have all likely contributed to a downward trend in productivity.

Co-CEO at Leapsome, Jenny von Podewils, said that “all of that insecurity and change has cost a lot more focus”. So with 66% of employees citing that financial stress impacts their work and personal lives, it appears that remote working isn’t the only thing to blame.

 

Should bosses be leading a return to the office?

Despite the evidence of happier employees and improved talent retention, remote working may not be as smooth sailing as it seems. One in three remote workers confess that they struggle with the notion of having fewer reasons to leave home, which is leading to increased isolation and loneliness. So, while we may perceive a better work-life balance, it’s apparent that some employees are facing challenges behind closed doors.

 

An article from The Guardian discussing the remote work debate quoted that 80% of UK workers feel that working from home harms their mental health. They asked why such alarming statistics persist if most of us still opt to work remotely. Besides cases where employees face lengthy commutes or childcare responsibilities, the author pondered whether many of us might be forming self-sabotaging behaviours that only our employer could help us break by prodding us back to the office.

 

As well as considering the impact on employee well-being, another factor being debated is whether remote work is harming our creativity and innovation. Some bosses of giant tech companies have already been vocal about their opinions and believe in a full return to the office.

 

 

Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon feels that “we just do our best work when we’re together”.

 

He continued by saying that “the energy and riffing on one another’s ideas happen more freely, and many of the best Amazon inventions have had their breakthrough moments from people staying behind after a meeting and working through ideas on a whiteboard”.

 

 

However, other bosses have differing views. Vice President at Atlassian, Annie Dean, believes that any bosses expecting office presence to solve problems such as creativity and innovation by itself will be let down: “Those are all ‘how to work’ problems, not ‘where to work’ problems.”

 

What’s your take?

Recently, we initiated a discussion concerning the remote work debate with some of our clients and network to gather insights from more of today’s leaders.

 

According to our survey, approximately 70% believed that bosses should not be leading a return to the office.

 

The debate was widely recognised as a complex issue, with many believing that an absolute approach would not be helpful.

 

Some pointed to the 9-5 office model, saying it was outdated and that we need to embrace a new normal:

“We now live in a 24/7 world, with messages coming from different time zones all day and night. The 9-5:30 office model is no longer fit for purpose. Either we all go home on time, as people used to, which would massively reduce productivity in global teams, or we have to acknowledge that technology has changed how we work and move forwards.”

 

 

Tracy Corney, Director and Consultant at The Little HR Department, believes that we should be investing more time and energy into how we can move forwards:

 

“Maybe we need to invest more in thinking “How do we do it differently?”. How do we upskill managers to be better remote managers? How do we create ways for employees to engage that don’t require a water cooler moment?” “I don’t have all (many) of the answers, but it feels like maybe it’s less about trying to go back, and honestly looking at what do we need to move forwards.”

 

 

Another important aspect being discussed was how both leaders and employees could effectively transition into a hybrid/remote working world. Regarding virtual collaboration, Group Reward Director at Vanquis Banking Group, Stephen Clements, believes that leaders just “require different skills, not impossible ones.

He thinks they need to “be clear about what needs doing,” be “supportive without being intrusive,” and make sure people are speaking regularly so any stress or tension is identified early.

 

Consult with your employees

Overall, there was a clear consensus that employers should take a proactive approach and collaboratively determine what works best for their employees. Catherine Eadie, Founding Director of MHScot Workplace Wellbeing, emphasised this by stating, “all organisations need to be consulting with their employees about what’s going to work best for them.”

 

Chief People Officer at The Briars Group, Amanda Simon, further reinforced the importance of open communication. Her advice was to “speak to your employees, offer a range of agile working so they can choose the most suitable for their needs. Performance has increased, and engagement has improved for the majority… if your company isn’t seeing the benefits of working from home, then look at the setup and speak to your employees.”

 

We need to find a balance

In conclusion, finding a balance that works for both employees and employers is crucial.

 

Ann Kiceluk, Chief People Officer at World Vision UK, believes that “hybrid is most definitely the future (for office-based roles at least), but we have to get that balance right and also support our managers and employees to be able to work in a way which is best for performance, team connectivity, engagement, productivity, and well-being”.

 

Employees’ priorities have changed.

 

Employers must actively participate in open discussions within their teams to identify the most suitable work style for everyone.

 


 

The opinions expressed in this article concerning the remote work debate belong solely to the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organisations.

 


 

read more employers

 

💡 Why Leaders Need to Foster a Learning Culture

 

💼 3 Business Leadership Skills You Need to Hire in 2023

 

🧲 Want to attract the best talent? Here are 8 easy wins to get started

 


 

read more candidates

 

💡 How to Give Your CV the Edge

 

🎯 8 Steps to Getting Your Career Back On Track

 

4 Leadership Skills That Will Turbocharge Your Career

 


 

Who We Are:

Yellow Bricks hire exceptional interim and permanent leaders for scaling organisations. Learn more here.

 

For more people, culture, growth content like this, subscribe to our newsletter.

 

Looking to hire? Get in touch with one of our hiring experts.

 


To find out more about how to focus on your brand, get in touch today.
Want to hear about our other articles?
Looking to hire your next superstar?
Keen to explore our latest vacancies?
Yellow Bricks is a female-owned and led executive search firm hiring predominately for software companies with diversity and inclusion at the heart of our offering. To learn more, click here.
Related posts
UK Visa Sponsorship: Explained

UK Visa Sponsorship: Explained

Employing a motivated, overseas worker: Not hard, not expensive   Immigration Law is often considered procedurally complex, expensive, and bureaucratic. I’ve omitted those parts to show employing an overseas worker doesn’t have to be a burden.   The following attempts to simplify a path for the employment of overseas nationals in the UK. To do […]
Abby’s Takeaways from London Tech Week

Abby’s Takeaways from London Tech Week

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending London Tech Week. I really felt it should have been called UK Tech Week to represent the huge amount of talented Tech organisations flourishing across the country. With over 6000 in attendance, it was great to be in a room with so many like-minded tech enthusiasts.   […]
5 Practical Ways to Beat Imposter Syndrome in 2024

5 Practical Ways to Beat Imposter Syndrome in 2024

How many times have you recently felt that you have lost your career edge? Do you feel like others are more confident and overtaking you to achieve greater success? You are not alone; self-doubt has crept in, and we’re here to help you banish it!   As experienced recruitment specialists, we understand that individuals often […]
6 Tips for Working In Hot Weather

6 Tips for Working In Hot Weather

As the UK declares a national heatwave emergency with temperatures set to exceed the record set in Cambridge in 2019 of 38.7 degrees, we provide some useful tips for getting through a day of work in the sweltering heat. With the huge rise in people working from home, access to industrial-sized, state-of-the-art air-con units for […]
Why Leaders Need to Foster a Learning Culture

Why Leaders Need to Foster a Learning Culture

The pandemic brought a transformation to the working world, and as we enter the age of AI, businesses need to act now to future-proof themselves.   Going forward, the growth in technology and workers’ re-evaluations of their working lives means that incorporating a learning culture needs to become a top priority for organisations to future-proof, […]
Why leaders are being told to evolve or face extinction.

Why leaders are being told to evolve or face extinction.

Global CEOs believe their organisation won’t be economically viable in 10 years’ time if they stay on their current path.   This is not just a warning but an urgent call to action. In PwC’s recent Global CEO survey, 4,410 chief executives all agree: you must “evolve or die”.   The turbulence of recent years, […]
Predictions for Hiring and the Workplace in 2022

Predictions for Hiring and the Workplace in 2022

With 2022 fast approaching, we anticipate how hiring and the workplace will continue to evolve following the effects of a global pandemic and a shift in the way we work 💻   Here are some of our workplace predictions for 2022:   📈 Strategy will be high on the agenda. With the way in which […]
3 Business Leadership Skills You Need to Hire in 2024

3 Business Leadership Skills You Need to Hire in 2024

In the fast-paced and ever-changing business landscape of 2024, hiring the right leader is critical to organizational success.   As Deloitte found, businesses with a culture led by great leaders were 12 times more likely to have high business performance.   But you’ve got to know what to hire! And that can be difficult to […]
7 basic interview tips to stand out and get the job

7 basic interview tips to stand out and get the job

Have you got an interview coming up?   Has it been a while?   We have plenty of interview tips to get you started with your preparation.   Attending an interview can be a daunting feeling. Read on to discover our top tips to show your best side during an interview.   As soon as […]
5 career-boosting moves women can make

5 career-boosting moves women can make

As the leader of an independent search firm, I am privileged to witness, influence, and guide the remarkable achievements of women entering and excelling within leadership across diverse industries. The resilience, talent, and dedication I see daily is truly inspiring.   As we head into International Women’s Day this week, I wanted to reflect on […]

Join 2,500+ forward-thinking leaders.

People. Culture. Growth.
Unlock your leadership potential with our biweekly newsletter. No spam, only gold.