What harms your workplace productivity more: a new worker who is fully remote or one who doesn’t meet the qualifications for the role?

What about a remote worker compared to an essential position going unfilled for weeks or months?

These dilemmas are playing out in offices across many countries, because many workers are attracted and retained by workplace flexibility policies.

Return to office mandates are especially risky if you’re willing to fire people who want to stay remote. This is because of three core reasons:

  1. In the United States, there are 1.9 million fewer people in the workforce today compared to the start of 2020. Globally, the shortfall of workers is projected to expand significantly and reach a shortage of 85 million workers by 2030.
  2. For the roughly 6 million unemployed American workers, there are 9.8 million job openings. Similar things are happening across the globe, such as in Singapore, where there are 163 job openings for every 100 unemployed people.
  3. Hybrid and remote companies are growing their headcount twice as fast as fully in-office companies.

There are more jobs and fewer employees either qualified for or attracted to these openings. Workers, especially younger ones, are maintaining strength in the job market. From a data perspective, forcing unpopular RTO policies puts your company at risk of losing staff and seeing a drain of institutional knowledge and skilled labor.

On the whole, not providing flexibility is a threat to your top and bottom lines.

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No handwaving this away

In my discussions about remote work with leaders and managers, tech is brought up regularly.

Many nimble tech startups are embracing remote options because it enables them to hire top talent while avoiding many traditional overhead expenditures. That means utility costs and office space are handled by employees — they pay for their own electricity and work-from-home spaces. Other fringe costs like office lunches are also handled by employees, meaning that these startups save on more than just rent.

At the same time, tech companies boom and bust. They also grab negative headlines. Major layoffs have often started in the tech sector. All of this makes the tech market an easy scapegoat for pointing to the explosive growth and so-called dramatic death of remote. But, the data show that’s not the true story.

According to a new report, every sector and company size grouping are seeing the same increased demand and faster hiring rate for remote and hybrid compared to fully in-office. Even if you completely remove tech jobs from its consideration, in-office firms are growing at half the rate of others.

Don’t neglect existing staff

If you’re hiring right now — or simply want to retain your existing staff — another important thing to know is that only 11% of jobs on LinkedIn are remote. However, they’re attracting 50% of job applications and are closing faster.

Think about this, as well: your existing in-office teams might be some of those people applying to those remote jobs.

Our final set of important stats comes from a recent McLean presentation on HR trends. It notes that fully or mostly onsite organizations have a 1.5x higher turnover rate than partially- and fully- remote companies. These onsite organizations also spend the most HR time, money, and effort on recruitment, which takes away from work HR can do for existing employees.

You already know that a strong employee experience translates into a strong customer experience. Your people determine your outcomes. What’s next is a clear opportunity, or threat, based on how you respond to employee needs and requests.

Which valuable member of your team might you lose tomorrow if you’re not taking their remote work requests seriously?

Category: Remote