One of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the widespread shift to working remotely. Companies around the world were initially forced to shift millions of workers to remote work, and many have since decided to make that setup permanent or at least provide that option. This recent trend is so prevalent that many employers and recruiters assume the ability to work remotely is no longer really even a “perk” but rather something employees expect and competitors are offering.
But how true is that sentiment?
Pressure for Maintaining a Remote Work Model
“Data from a May 2021 Morning Consult survey of 1,000 US adults showed nearly 40% would consider jumping ship if their employers didn’t offer remote-work flexibility,” writes Meredith Turits in an article for BBC Worklife. “That number shot up to 49% for millennials and Gen Z. Increasingly, many workers have anecdotally reported doing so, too.”
That’s a lot of pressure on employers to accommodate the desire for remote work, but these employers’ ability to accommodate that desire must also be considered.
Just because employees want a particular benefit doesn’t mean that request is realistic. Every job candidate would probably like a $1 million-per-year bonus, but that doesn’t mean a potential employer has to shell out the money to land a new hire—and it’s unlikely any other employer would do so either.
A Variable Field of Open Jobs
Obviously, there are far more employers offering remote work than are offering $1 million bonuses, but Turits provides evidence that location flexibility may not be as universal as many might assume.
Although we hear there are many open jobs available today and employers are struggling in a job market that favors employees, “some data shows there simply may not be enough location-flexible jobs for everyone who wants one,” writes Turits. The data varies between countries and industries, and employees aren’t equally affected. This, says Turits, “might be a tough pill to swallow for workers who feel their options abound—and the result is that some jobseekers may have to bend to an in-office future they’re resisting.”
Finding the Right Model
Employers today often feel like they must offer the option to work remotely if they want to attract workers, particularly in the current labor market. But not all employers can or are even willing to allow all staff to work remotely. Employers should be conscious of this before they cave in to an office policy that doesn’t necessarily fit their business needs.
That’s important as employers seek to create a work model that meets the needs of the business and its key audiences. Of course employees are important, but their demands don’t always need to be met—and, for some organizations, they shouldn’t be.
Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.