TALiNT Partners Insights provides invaluable information that enables businesses to make informed, strategic decisions. Our curated insights are your tools for problem-solving, fostering growth, and achieving success within talent acquisition and staffing.

A forceful return to work is not the answer

Amidst debate over remote work, businesses navigate economic concerns and employee preferences for a hybrid future.

Content Insights

90% of companies plan to implement return-to-office policies by the end of 2024.
Towns and cities across the UK have recently undergone remarkable regeneration and development.
Businesses must recognise that their talent pool is only as strong as their flexible working policy.

Table of Contents

Information

Categories

Author

Since April 2023, Scottish Civil Servants have been permitted to fulfil their job roles from a foreign country for four weeks per year. But the policy hasn’t been met with open arms. Scottish Government officials do not support long-term working abroad, concerned with its knock-on impact on the local economy.

And Scotland isn’t unique in its concerns over the impact remote work will have on the economy. Many businesses are requesting employees return to the office full-time – not only in line with productivity concerns but also with government bodies’ broader concerns around long-term economic growth in city centres.

Right now, we’re seeing more companies – especially big tech – requesting employees return to the office five days per week. Data from Resume Builder reveals that 90% of companies plan to implement return-to-office policies by the end of 2024, with nearly 30% stating they’ll threaten to fire employees who won’t comply with in-office requirements.

But even though requests to return to the office may be on the rise, office occupancy has remained low, and workers (40%) say they prefer flexible working arrangements. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the future of work, research shows a blanket return to the office isn’t the answer. So what does the future look like?

High-performing employees frequently interpret stricter attendance policies as a sign that their organisation does not trust them to make the best decisions about how they complete their work.

Working for global companies

According to Deel’s 2024 Global Hiring Report, the hiring of UK talent by international companies increased by nearly 10% last year. This likely correlated with the elimination of fully remote roles and employees’ desire to continue to work more flexibly.

Global employers are eager to tap into UK talent, wanting more control over their working patterns, to help their own companies grow and innovate in emerging areas like AI. But what’s more important to recognise is that employers aren’t just driving the uptick in global hiring. Workers (71%) continue looking for distributed and hybrid roles and often choose companies that offer hybrid work versus strict in-person working.

Employee satisfaction & opening talent pools

High-performing employees frequently interpret stricter attendance policies as a sign that their organisation does not trust them to make the best decisions about how they complete their work. Meanwhile, others may want to come into the office to feel more connected to the company culture. A one-size-fits-all policy doesn’t work.

Recent research of 137 S&P500 companies shows that return-to-office mandates are more likely in firms with poor recent stock performance and don’t positively impact employees or a business’s bottom line. Glassdoor data found RTO mandates significantly reduce employee ratings for job satisfaction, work-life balance, and senior management retention. The study also found no significant impact of RTO mandates on firm profitability or stock returns.

What can change a business’ growth and trajectory is widening its talent pools to those outside a 30-mile radius of its office. Companies can find the best talent for their company, not just the best talent nearby, by allowing employees to choose where and when they work. In return, employees are more productive, loyal and have higher levels of job satisfaction.

For recruiters looking to hire a diverse skill set into the business, it’ll be essential to remember what job seekers are looking for in their new roles – and work with business leaders on workplace perks that attract this talent into the business. A robust and flexible working policy gives employees autonomy and control over their work lives. It serves as an effective recruitment tool and gives employees the freedom to manage their work schedules across suitable locations.

Thriving local economies

As hybrid settings become the norm, we expect a positive knock-on impact on local economies, smaller towns, and villages.

Numerous towns and cities across the UK have recently undergone remarkable regeneration and development initiatives. These efforts have resulted in the development of new homes, job opportunities, office spaces, improved transport links, and green spaces. And many individuals opted to move out of city centres at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Businesses can continue supporting local economies while widening their talent pools through hybrid work opportunities.

For example, hybrid work has the potential to reshape the distribution of economic prosperity, resulting in a more balanced landscape across regions. For businesses opting to tap into talent pools outside of major urban centres, it becomes possible to reduce economic concentration in metropolitan areas, spurring regional development and supporting the flourishing of small businesses in local communities. Especially on the days that employees work from their local areas.  

As hybrid settings become the norm, we expect a positive knock-on impact on local economies, smaller towns, and villages.

Furthermore, a recent study found that flexible working encourages more working mothers to enter and stay in the workforce. The paper showed a 10% increase in working from home increases mothers’ employment by 1%. This drives faster economic growth by increasing the labour supply and opens the talent pools for more diverse recruitment opportunities.

No one-size-fits-all answer

If hybrid work is to stay, there is a unique opportunity for people living in rural or underserved areas to actively participate in the global economy without having to travel long distances five days a week at high costs.

This inclusive approach to employment encourages diversity and inclusivity but also helps foster equitable economic growth throughout the country.

In essence, rather than forcing a return to outdated norms, businesses must recognise that their talent pool is only as strong as their flexible working policy to remain competitive. Organisations can create a workplace that benefits employees and the business by valuing flexibility and empowering employees to balance their professional and personal lives.

Share

Deel MPU 1