There is no greater driver of innovation than adversity. This is particularly true in the business world. Look around, and it’s easy to see that the past year and a half has been chock full of both the former and the latter. Players both large and small in the service industry adapted to empty restaurants and cafes. Retailers overhauled age-old operations strategies to accommodate online shoppers. Millions of workers were forced to upskill, with countless positions otherwise thought secure, going extinct overnight.
Fast forward to the end of the pandemic and one thing is clear: there is no ‘Return to Normal.’ The ‘New Normal’ has endured; the first global pandemic in a century has left a lasting impact that goes far beyond the healthcare space. Workers have taken notice that after a year of working from home, many grew fond of an office-less existence that replaced conference rooms with video calls and watercooler conversations with family time.
The result: companies must brace for a workforce that is not eager to return to the office. Professionals of all levels are not united in their desire to re-enter crowded financial districts and shared workspaces. In fact, a poll of 2,000 adults found that 87% of those who worked from home during the pandemic want the opportunity to continue doing so.
For employers, this news creates challenges. On the one hand, employees worked longer hours and reported morale increases during the lockdown – a direct result of the flexibility that comes with a home office. On the other hand, the massive financial commitments made to physical office space might yield less than satisfactory results. If employees don’t return to the office, were the dollars spent on these modern workspaces worthwhile?
Regardless, employers should not fret. As the global vaccination rate increases, the most prudent companies will build their hiring strategies around one principle: giving talent as much flexibility as possible. It should not matter where your top performers get things done; be it in their living rooms or at a cubicle, talent no longer simply wants a choice of work environment – they demand it.
This change will greatly affect how employers secure talent. Going forward, job seekers will expect bosses to allow a certain number of days each month in which they’re allowed to work remotely. Don’t be surprised if employers who offer maximum flexibility scare talent away from corporations that are unwilling to recognize this seismic shift.
Look between the lines and you’ll notice a transfer of power. Employers no longer own sole custody of workplace conditions. Instead, workers have every opportunity to migrate where they’re appreciated most. Why is that? The workforce’s most talented individuals will be attracted to these forward-thinking employers. In turn, their skills will help these companies grow and hire even more talent. The cycle rinses and repeats.
How can job seekers tap into this brave new world? A good start is letting a recruiter take over the burden of looking for opportunities to match your skills. Recruiting agencies will play a larger role than ever for two reasons: 1) Talent can lean on them to locate positions in companies that meet their remote needs and 2) Employers can rely on recruiters to educate a talent pool with the endless choices of premium job opportunities and the pristine corporate cultures they offer.