Employers ‘toughen’ remote working rules 

Employers are toughening up remote working rules according to a new poll Randstad UK. Three in every five workers in the UK say that, in the past few months, their employer has become stricterEmployers are ‘toughening’ up remote working rules according to a new poll from Randstad UK. Three in every five workers in the UK say that, in the past few months, their employer has become stricter about making staff come into the office. In a survey of 2,000 workers across the UK, 60 per cent agreed with the statement: “In the past few months, my employer has become stricter about making sure staff come into the office.” But the research claims that cutting remote working options may prove counterproductive for organisations.

More than half of the workers polled (54 per cent) described being able to work from home as “non-negotiable”. Women felt more strongly about this than men with 56 per cent saying the same. And when existing employees were asked what they would do if their employer told them to spend even more time working in the office, 55 per cent said they would consider quitting their job. Millennial and Generation Z workers felt the most strongly with 63 per cent and 62 saying the same.

The research also claims to highlight a disconnect between the amount of time workers wanted to work from home and the amount of time employers wanted them to work in the office. When asked, “In an ideal world, how many days per week would you work from the office, as opposed to working remotely?” workers wanted to work in the office 2½ days a week. Civil servants and those working in telecommunications wanted to spend the least amount of time in the office (2.1 days and 2.0 days respectively).

But most employers demand their workers spend more time in the office, with respondents reporting they had to work 3 days in the office, on average. The industry with the closest match between expectations and reality was financial services, where employees say they want to work 2½ days in the office, on average, and say their employers’ policies demand they work 2½ days in the office.

Randstad also asked workers if they wouldn’t accept a job if it didn’t provide flexibility around where they worked (e.g. working from home), 39 per cent agreed with 48 per cent of Generation Z saying the same. The highly educated were far more likely to turn down a job without remote options (42 per cent) than workers with a lower standard of education (28 per cent).

When asked about their current job and/or potential future employment, 81 per cent of workers said flexibility in terms of working hours was important to them — unchanged from the previous year. Flexibility in terms of hours was most important to Millennials (those born between 1981-1996) (84 per cent) and Generation X workers (82 per cent) but was still important to Boomers (79 per cent) and members of Generation Z (78 per cent).

Almost three-quarters of workers (69 per cent) reported that flexibility in terms of location including remote working was important to them — also unchanged from the previous year. Boomers — presumably including more managerial roles than other age-groups — reported valuing hybrid and remote options the least (61 per cent view this as important) along with Generation X (65 per cent). Millennials (79 per cent) and Generation Z (74 per cent) valued it more highly.


What really matters

The top 3 priorities of workers remain unchanged in terms of order: work/life balance pay (95 per cent — compared to 94 per cent last year); pay (94 per cent — compared to 93 per cent last year); and job security (91 per cent — unchanged).

The research also found that workers looking for new jobs are becoming less interested in their employer’s attitude to sustainability, diversity, transparency. The purpose and values of their employers has become less important to workers with only 22 per cent saying it is very important — compared to 31 per cent a year before — and only 36 per cent describing it as somewhat  important, compared to 41 per cent last year.

Victoria Short of Randstad said, “Factors that employees value in their current or next jobs are not necessarily constant and employers hoping to attract new workers via a cocktail of benefits will need to adjust their recipe to keep pace with changing tastes.  When you’re trying to attract and retain staff, you have to be creative with your benefits package as the pendulum of workers’ priorities swings. Fashions change, sands shift, and as an employer working in a talent shortage, you can’t afford to sit on your laurels and rely on an out-of-date benefits package. While an organisation’s ‘mission’ is beginning to feel a bit… 2022, flexibility, including the option for remote working, remains hugely attractive to employees; the good news is that this is a low-cost way for organisations to compete for talent. This means that employers that do not offer some form of hybrid working will continue to be at a disadvantage when hiring. It will affect retention, too. A lack of flexibility will prompt career changes among some employees. Flexibility will also help speed up your hiring process.”