The past two years have seen millions of people working from home. Since the pandemic, remote work opportunities have shot up, but now it seems the tide is turning.
US remote job postings made up 14% of all postings in September 2022, according to LinkedIn data. This is a notable decrease from the all-time high of 20% in February of last year.
And yet, demand for remote roles has only gone up — from 50% of US applications in February 2022 to 52% in September. It’s not just US candidates that continue to seek remote roles. Demand outweighs job availability in the UK, Germany, and India, too.
Leaders fear losing control
So why are businesses scaling back remote jobs? Economic uncertainty plays a large role in it. Many business leaders believe this will force companies to roll back flexible work arrangements.
Some commonly cited reasons for office returns include perceived productivity loss and ineffective collaboration. Beneath the surface, it seems business leaders fear giving up control to allow for true flexibility. But it’s a fear that will come back to bite them.
Employees want flexibility. They want to choose where, when, and how they work. And that desire isn’t going away. The data backs it up. So while it may feel safer to return to the old way of doing things, it’s not wise for business longevity.
Remote work unlocks opportunity
The businesses that embrace remote, flexible work stand to reap the rewards. They can scout the world’s labor markets for the best people. They can build more diverse teams. They can save money by hiring globally (and not just in the nearest big city). They can better retain and engage high-performing staff who thrive on flexibility. And they can build whip-smart global teams who propel their company ahead of the competition.
Trailer for our Globalization of Teams report
At Omnipresent, we’ve built a fully remote, global team. This has given us the freedom to tap into world-class talent in over 50 countries. In 2022 alone, we received over 175,000 applications to join our team. It also allowed us to support almost 30 people through relocation last year. That way, they could be closer to family, explore new places, and lead the life they want.
Without remote work, we wouldn't be able to attract or retain the quantity or quality of people we need to grow our business.
The benefits far outweigh the challenges
Yes, there are challenges that come with remote, global work. Communication and collaboration are inherently more complex within distributed teams. And you can’t physically see your colleagues working to monitor their productivity.
But those challenges are solvable. There are plenty of resources and tools to ensure effective communication and collaboration. And close monitoring doesn’t actually help teams perform. Instead, business leaders and managers have to build a culture of trust and psychological safety. They must create policies and systems that value performance and outputs over number of hours worked. That will earn employees’ respect and give them the confidence they need to excel.
An economic downturn understandably raises many concerns and anxieties for business leaders. There will be an inevitable slowdown in hiring as a result. But that shouldn’t come with a return to outdated ways of working, a retreat to what feels safe (but isn't).
Businesses need employees on their side to survive the months ahead and come out stronger. Their safest bet is to put employee experience and engagement first. The results will follow.