One of the key leadership lessons to come from the pandemic has clearly been that remote working does…work. As many organisations and cynics have discovered, working from home hasn’t resulted in a decline in productivity.
In fact, employees are working just as if not more effectively, with many saying that they are putting in more hours, especially now that they no longer have the daily commute to think about. Yes, remote working has led to Zoom fatigue and a lack of people interaction is affecting mental health but workers are able to be just as efficient – much depends of course on the role and industry of course. Indeed, a survey by the University of Law Business School revealed that productivity had risen for 36% of firms.
According to a recent New York Times article, some workers are actually dreading a return to the office and many want to have the flexibility to continue to work from home. In a Morgan Philips poll on LinkedIn in April 2021, we found that just over a quarter of employees (26%) were feeling anxious about a return to office life while almost 4 in 10 (38%) were excited to see their colleagues again. Clearly, remote working cannot simply be discarded.
Motivation to succeed
The good news for remote workers is that employers are now far more likely to hire remotely than before, which means that proximity will no longer matter. The same survey found that close to three quarters (73%) of businesses are prepared to hire someone who is based anywhere in the UK. Interestingly, women are more likely than men to hire someone based remotely.
But it is not just domestic talent that is on the radar for UK hiring managers. More than 1 in 4 businesses (29%) are also more likely to hire talent from abroad, which again won’t come as a huge surprise given the skills shortages that exist across many different sectors of the UK economy. The pandemic has changed the playing field, increasing the number of potential job opportunities for candidates beyond their own borders. And with organisations and hiring managers having more robust virtual assessment and remote onboarding processes, employers can mitigate the risks of hiring while not harming retention.
When considering the most important qualities to succeed in a remote working environment, self-motivation (41%) was deemed to be the most important skill, which is something that many have struggled with during lockdown. Resilience, which has been so much talked about during the pandemic, surprisingly was the least sought after skill achieving only 4% of the vote. Completing the top five were good communication (34%), adaptability (24%), organisation (23%) and teamwork (20%) which once again shows the importance of having strong soft skills.
Remote working has opened up a new world of opportunity for skilled professionals as employers realise that distance is not a hindrance and that they have a ready resource to plug their skills gaps.