A recruiter’s perspective on the rise of working from home
In the beginning of the pandemic, many companies, notably large firms such as Allianz, seemed to have accepted that 100% flexibility is the new way to go to both accommodate Covid restrictions and keep employees happy. This made headlines, as the approach to allowing employees to work completely from home (at least where possible) was nearly unprecedented. It seemed working from home was a complete success and working in an office obsolete.
Regardless of recent advancements in remote working technology, regular working from home was not standard practice in most firms pre-pandemic, often being considered an employee perk rather than standard practice. According to research for the JCW salary guide 34% of firms based in Germany reported offering no remote working whatsoever pre-pandemic.
Despite the unique challenges that the forced introduction of home working posed, JCW research found that only 3% of firms based in Germany experienced a negative impact on their business, with 47% reporting an increase in productivity. This was the result of a number of factors, such as employees experiencing increased job satisfaction due to reduced commuting time and expense.
Nevertheless, when talking to candidates a different picture emerged soon. Although many could adapt to fully remote working for a while, many ended up missing the daily interactions with colleagues that office-based work allows.
From the conversations we’ve had with employers, a middle ground seems to have been reached. Today the company standard is more 2 to 3 days of working from home. The main motivation here seems to be to fulfill the need of direct contact and facilitating teamwork. Managers in particular struggled to foster an environment of information exchange and a feeling of “togetherness” during periods of 100% Home Office. A large problem was also picking up on the individual issues employees were facing without face to face interactions – it’s much easier to hide emotions behind a screen. Only a few companies we spoke to offered specific training on how to effectively lead in a virtual environment.
However, with opportunities to downsize offices, save on overheads and fulfil commitments to reduce their environmental impact, 80% of firms report that they will offer more remote working as a result of the pandemic. And whilst no firms said they would offer full-time remote working, only 20% plan to return to the same office/home balance as before.
Generally, what this shows is that Home Office working is highly individual. For some, with a family, long commute and other factors, it can be a blessing and lighten the burden of working, helping to implement a healthier work life balance, not to mention satisfying other human needs in the interaction and social context of the office. On the employer side though, we believe a more proactive approach to management is needed, especially with the rise of Home Office and individual solutions. Specific training on how to pick up on employee’s needs and foster a sense of community might support them to make the best of the situation.
*A full salary guide produced by JCW containing more exclusive market insights is available here.