Number of remote working roles jumps again

| 6 April 2021

Over the last few years, flexible working and the ability to work from home have been seen as a benefit as part of some employment packages, a positive aspect and often a determinant of how forward-thinking employers were.

As a result of the pandemic the dynamic has changed and earlier this year we conducted research that highlighted treble the number of remote working roles advertised year-on-year. Since then, this number has increased again (to 78,000) however, since my last blog on the subject, the tone seems to have changed.

Over the last few months, this has resulted in three key issues which we have uncovered through the conversations that we, as a business, have been having with candidates.

As part of career conversations, the question of the location of the role has become more important, but interestingly the trend has been more for people asking if they are able to access an office space if they need to. Candidates want to at least have the option to go into the office and interact with their colleagues.

The pandemic has forced us into home working in a way that has resulted in a merger between home life and work life. Many of the candidates we have spoken to are working more flexibly, but working longer hours overall and spreading these hours out, so that the working day can feel longer.

Now that we are able to work from wherever we are and access the platforms that we use to do our work, do we ever get the downtime that we need? In what situation could you take a sick day? Can you truly be on holiday?
Continuing our analysis of jobs advertised with the ability to work remotely or work from home, using data from EMSI, we can see that the numbers have increased from 23,620 in February 2020 to 80,723 in February 2021.

Interestingly the overall number of advertised roles has decreased in the same time period, with 2,849,324 in February 2020 to 2,231,502 in February 2021. What this means is that the percentage of roles advertised with the ability to work remotely or from home has increased from 1% in February 2020 to 3.6% in February 2021.

What will be interesting is to see what this means for the future of work. The term “hybrid working” is increasingly used, but what will it mean? At the moment, we are finding that this is causing not only uncertainty with candidates but also with our clients who don’t yet know how to manage the situation and how it will play out.

Since my last blog, the dynamic seems to have changed. The desire to work get back to the office is stronger both from employers and from employees. The guidance from the government is not clear, so companies are having to interpret it how they see fit and there have been some differences in approach. Barclays announced that working from home is not sustainable, whereas Twitter are happy for their employees to work from home forever.

A factor in this is the type of people and skills required. EMSI’s data shows that 93% of the roles advertised in February 2021 with the ability to work remotely or from home require good communications skills. In addition, a key theme is for skills sets in these types of roles is related to programming languages, Agile, Azure, JavaScript and SQL. The opportunity to work flexibly is no doubt aligned to the type of job that you work in, so will this influence our career choices and what trends will we see in the future as a result of this?

The interesting dynamic here is the balance between business needs and employees needs. For most companies, people are their most important asset, so these are critical decisions, that not only impact current employees but also in the way that organisations can go to market for talent and attract the best people now and in the future.


Natalie Douglass is director of our Talent Strategy Consulting practice. We work with clients to help them navigate some of these important decisions and to manage the impact that this has on their talent strategy. Please get in touch if you would like more information about how we can support you in these vital decisions, using research, insight and our expertise.

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