Contemplating about this autumn’s work – remote or at the office – it is obvious that there are very different views on the advantages/disadvantages of remote working. Tessla’s CEO Elon Musk made a global splash when he in a leaked memo to staff said: “Remote work is no longer acceptable”. In a tweet he said remote workers “should pretend to work somewhere else”. Facebook’s owner Meta has a totally different approach and the company is recruiting people working totally remote and based also in cities where Meta not even has an office.
Meta says this strategy is increasing the diversity of candidates and workforce. 75% of staff is working from multiple locations.
Media giant Thomson Reuters this summer announced the company is expanding its “work from anywhere” policy and is introducing a new sabbatical scheme for employees worldwide. Under a programme called Flex My Way, Thomson Reuters employees can already work from anywhere in their country of residence for up to eight weeks. Now they will be allowed to work anywhere in the world for four weeks. The number of jobs that can be fully remote has been increased.
FULL-TIME IN PERSON
After two years working from home, many employees want to continue working remotely, at least partly, but Microsoft’s annual work index shows a conflict with leaders wanting the staff back to the office. “The source of this tension is clear as business leaders seek a return to what once was”, the report says.
50% of leaders say their company already requires, or plans to require, full-time in-person work in the year ahead.
This stands in sharp contrast to the data on the importance of flexible work to employees. Over half of respondents (52%) say they are likely to consider shifting to hybrid or remote work in the year ahead. And remote and hybrid jobs are still on the rise.
According to Microsoft-owned LinkedIn, in March of 2020, 1 in 67 U.S. jobs offered a remote work option. During the pandemic, this increased to about 1 in 7. And remote jobs on LinkedIn attract 2.6 times more views and nearly 3 times more applicants compared to on-site roles.
WE´RE NOT THE SAME
As the report says: “One thing is clear: We’re not the same people that went home to work in early 2020. The collective experience of the past two years has left a lasting imprint, fundamentally changing how we define the role of work in our lives.”
Microsoft´s 2022 Work Trend Index is based on study of 31,000 people in 31 countries, along with an analysis productivity signals in Microsoft 365 and labour trends on LinkedIn.
The study says that these are the five urgent trends business leaders need to know in 2022:
- Employees have a new “worth it” equation.
- Managers feel wedged between leadership and employee expectations.
- Leaders need to make the office worth the commute.
- Flexible work doesn’t have to mean “always on.”
- Rebuilding social capital looks different in a hybrid world.
What are employees looking for in a job now? Beyond pay, the top five aspects of work that employees view as “very important” for an employer to provide are: positive culture (46%), mental health/wellbeing benefits (42%), a sense of purpose/meaning (40%), flexible work hours (38%), and more than the standard two weeks of paid vacation time each year (36%).
”While new-to-the-workforce, Gen Z shares the same top three priorities, they list positive feedback and recognition as their fourth priority, while ranking a manager who will help advance their career in fifth place.”
NO GOING BACK
For Gen Z, there’s no going back, the report says. For younger employees, flexibility, mobility, and entrepreneurial freedom are non-negotiable.
Compared to last year, geographic migration is slowing. Today, 38% of respondents are considering moving because they can work remotely at their current job (compared to 46% in 2021), while 30% are likely to consider a move in the year ahead even if it requires finding a new job that lets them work remotely. Gen Z and Millennials are even more willing to change jobs in order to live in a different location
The Microsoft report concludes that meeting these new employee expectations will require a mindset shift that considers the experience of the past two years.
50% of leaders in information worker roles say their company is currently or planning to focus on requiring full-time in-person work in the year ahead, while 52% of respondents say they are somewhat or extremely likely to consider going remote or hybrid in the year ahead.
There seems to be clear different views on remote work if you ask business leaders or their staff. A FlexJobs survey of more than 2,100 remote workers in the U.S. found that most employees want flexible work to continue post-pandemic. However, a study by Texas-based management consultancy Vyopta shows business leaders think remote working has negative effects both for companies and employees.
96% of executives agree that primarily remote workers are disadvantaged compared to those who work primarily in the office. 94% say remote employees were less connected and have fewer opportunities within the company than their office-working counterparts. However, close to half of executives say the companies are to blame for employees not being engaged.
93% of executives agree the frustration of working remotely is causing some employees to be less engaged on virtual calls. They say collaboration challenges as the reason primarily remote employees are less engaged. The top issues are over-reliance on others to be collaborative (52%), lack of access to company leadership (47%), and less connected to colleagues and their office culture (43%).
92% of the executives say employees who are less engaged, either frequently on mute or don’t turn on their camera during virtual meetings, probably do not have a long-term future at their company.
93% say employees who turn their camera off are generally less engaged in their work overall. 44% strongly agree with this.
43% suspect that employees who are on mute or off-camera entirely are browsing the internet or are on social media, texting or chatting (40%).
46% say companies are not providing the tools to allow their workers to be as engaged as their in-
97% of executives see the lack of engagement in a virtual environment as bad for business across the board. The most frequently cited negative consequences are slower skill development among employees (46%), lack of collaboration across teams (42%), and errors or mistakes slipping through due to a lack of virtual engagement (40%).
”Executives estimate they fully trust an average of just 61% of their staff to be able to work remotely, down from 66% in 2021. Those that said they trusted 75%-100% of their staff to work remotely dropped more dramatically, from 46% in 2021 to just 30% in 2022.”
58% of US remote workers in the Flex Jobs survey said they would “absolutely” look for a new job if they cannot continue remote work in their current role. Another 65% wanted to work fully remotely post-pandemic, while 33% hoped for a hybrid work arrangement – divided between the office and at home. Only 11% said that working remotely is not a big deal.
The survey also explored what respondents like and dislike about remote work. When asked, respondents ranked “cost savings” as the number two benefit of remote work (75%), with “not having a commute” ranking number one (84%).
In addition, a majority of workers (55%) said that their productivity has increased while working remotely, while only 6% of workers think their productivity has decreased.
When asked about the biggest challenges they faced, they cited overworking or an inability to unplug (35%), dealing with non-work distractions (28%), dealing with technology problems (28%), and reliable WiFi (26%).
had suffered, 76% said that remote work had not impacted their skills. However, 14% said they felt their skills had been impacted to some extent, while 5% said they had “definitely” been impacted.
Remote workers are also often concerned that working remotely could negatively impact their chance at a promotion. The survey, however, found that a majority, 70% felt that working at home during the pandemic had not impacted their chances.
With the ever-evolving advances in technology, working remotely does not necessarily mean working from your bedroom. Digital nomads are remote workers who usually travel to different locations and use information and communications technology to perform their job. They often work in coffee shops, co-working spaces, public libraries, or hotel rooms, relying on devices with wireless internet capabilities like smartphones and mobile hotspots to do their job.
It is estimated that by 2035 the number of digital nomads will reach one billion, according to the Nomad List, the biggest global community for international travellers.
Recognizing that digital nomads can bring lots of benefits to their economies and tourism industries, many countries have introduced “working holiday visas” to attract people who love to travel while still working.
For example, Greece – a country that is largely dependent on tourism and whose economy was hardly hit by the pandemic – has announced initiatives to attract digital nomads. Thanks to legislation passed in Greek Parliament, digital nomads who come to Greece can take advantage of initial tax breaks. Croatia is also one of the European countries welcoming digital nomads through the introduction of a long-stay visa.
Circle Loop has created its Digital Nomad Index ranking the top ten countries to be a digital nomad:
Home to one of the largest tech hubs in the world, it’s almost no surprise Canada ranks at the top of the list for the best country to be a digital nomad.
UK has the second-highest number of global searches for ‘remote jobs’.
Taking the third spot on the index is Romania – one of the fastest-growing information technology markets in Central and Eastern Europe.