Firms axe remote working in favour of the hybrid model

workingRemote working is no longer viewed as the ‘holy grail’ by employers, with hybrid working – a mix of working from home and office – now viewed as the perfect model for aiding staff retention, as well as helping them move up the ladder.

So says the Demand for Tech Talent report, published by recruitment giant Robert Half, which surveyed 750 tech hiring managers across the UK and suggests that remote working – widely touted as the ‘future of work’ both before and during the pandemic – is being shunned by companies.

During the pandemic, more than half (52%) of employers moved to a policy of fully remote working. Perhaps inevitably, this has now dropped back to a third (34%). However, of those that had a fully remote workforce prior to the pandemic, more than a quarter (28%) have now abandoned that policy in favour of a hybrid model, suggesting a decline that goes beyond a return to normal.

Previously, there was a gap between companies built around technology and those that introduced technology into an existing model., with the former more likely to operate a remote working model (46% v 25%), while latter were more likely to require employees in the office full-time (26% v 11%).

Both options have now taken a back seat to hybrid working, with three in five (60%) businesses now operating this model as standard, as they attempt to combat retention issues.

Seven in ten (69%) tech hiring managers agree that retaining valued employees has become harder over the past 12 months, as concerns with employee progression, corporate culture and identifying issues take hold.

Craig Freedberg, regional director – technology at Robert Half, said: “While remote working was highly desirable before the pandemic, the dream quickly became a nightmare for employees during lockdown when there was no other choice – but they are not keen to return to the office full-time.

“Hybrid working is a good compromise that allows employees the balance and flexibility they want, while allowing employers to address retention issues more effectively, which is essential in today’s hiring market.”

According to nearly three-quarters (73%) of tech leaders, remote working impacts opportunities for more junior team members to develop skills, as they are less able to learn from or check work with more experienced staff. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of employers agree that the progression of junior talent is being held back as a result, impacting loyalty and retention.

Freedberg added: “The progression and skills development of junior workers is something for organisations to keep an eye on. When your most ambitious employees are unable to acquire skills or progress in line with their expectations, they will start to look for new roles that can offer more opportunities, rather than risk stagnating or being held back.”

The lack of face-time with employees is also a concern for tech managers when it comes to cultural and pastoral issues. Seven in 10 (69%) employers agree that working from home makes it harder to identify potential employee issues, like mental health problems or staff dissatisfaction, while two-thirds (67%) are worried about corporate culture suffering.

Freedberg continued: “A lot of things can contribute towards an employee leaving, but employers stand a better chance of nipping issues in the bud when they can see people face-to-face. It is easy to hide problems behind a screen, especially when the camera is off, and in-person contact helps employers to look for signs of burnout or disengagement and address the situation early.”

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