The number of ‘remote working’ roles advertised in the UK jumped to almost 78,000 in February 2021 – more than three times the total a year earlier according to New Street Consulting Group, the leadership and people solutions consultancy. 3.6 per cent of roles advertised in February were remote, up from just 0.8 per cent a year earlier and double the 1.8 per cent of roles advertised as remote working in August of last year.
New Street Consulting Group says that the number of job roles advertised as remote working continues to rise sharply. However, there is now a divide emerging between businesses that are committing to remote work as part of their long-term model and those that are aiming to bring staff back to the office as soon as it is safe.
In March Nationwide told 13,000 of its staff to ‘work anywhere’ once the pandemic ends, allowing it to close three offices and consolidate office staff at its headquarters. Meanwhile Barclays CEO Jes Staley told the World Economic Forum in January that he did not think working from home was sustainable.
New Street says that while working remotely has worked well for some staff, others have found it difficult to maintain productivity and motivation while working in isolation. The firm cautions businesses that moving to a fully remote working model may make it difficult for them to attract talent. Natalie Douglass, director of Talent Strategy Consulting at New Street Consulting Group, says that many workers appreciate being given the opportunity to work away from the office but fewer want to never visit their workplace.
“For businesses, the attractions of moving to remote working are often very clear – the reduction in property overheads can be substantial. But for some it may come at a cost to talent acquisition and retention,” says Douglass. “We’re expecting more businesses to experiment with hybrid models. The debate in this area moves so quickly that many employers are going to continue testing those hybrid models for many months before committing.
“What a lot of workers have discovered over the past year is that having the option to work remotely can be good but not having the option to go to the office at all can make a job much harder,” she adds. “Not all workers have a suitable environment in which to work at home and appreciate being able to go to the office, connect with colleagues face-to-face and get a break from their home life. Others working in creative, collaborative roles need to be working in the same physical space as their colleagues to increase their productivity.”