Special Feature

Remote working jobs are here to stay, and some employers are worried

Tech workers are set on long-term remote working, a new survey of industry employees suggest. But employers are concerned about what it means for team work.

Mobile Application Developer Works with Graphics on His Personal Computer with Two Monitors.

Tech workers are keen on fully-remote roles, whereas employers would rather see their staff come into the office at least a few days a week.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Tech organizations are worried about the impact of remote working on team building and workplace culture as new data suggests technology professionals are increasingly prioritizing remote roles when looking for jobs.

A survey of 2,000 UK tech workers and employers on jobs marketplace Hackajob found that 50% of employers found it more difficult to build and maintain a strong team working remotely, while 54% said having a distributed workforce had a negative impact on office culture.

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Technology professionals, on the other hand, are of a different opinion. Just 22% of tech workers surveyed by Hackajob agreed that remote working had a negative effect on workplace culture, with the majority (44%) feeling that it had no impact at all.

The findings demonstrate the challenges businesses face in trying to appease employees' shifting expectations of work as jobseekers seek an end to the daily commute and more flexibility from their careers.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of tech workers surveyed by Hackajob cited remote working as one of the key perks they looked for as part of a jobs package, while 67% said they had broadened the scope of their job search due to the possibility of remote working.

Meanwhile, one in five (21%) respondents said they were looking to leave their current job because of a lack of flexibility from their organization, with 21% citing a lack of remote working options specifically.

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Mark Chaffey, co-founder and CEO at Hackajob, speculated whether the growing demand for tech workers could push organizations to rethink their working models, adding that the demands of employers and employees "are not aligned at the moment."

Chaffey said: "Tech workers are in demand and our data shows it is a buyer's market now, so employees seem to be in the driver's seat."

Tech skills wanted

Organizations face a tough hiring market as businesses expand their digital operations and intensify recruitment for employees with digital skills.

According to data published this month by professional service firm Accenture, technology job openings in the UK increased by 10% over the first six months of 2021, from 85,000 in January to 93,000 in July. While listings are still well below pre-pandemic levels, the results indicate that growing demand for technology professionals is fuelling a jobs recovery.

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What's more, Accenture's data found that demand for skills in emerging technologies is driving growth in the overall technology job market. For example, open roles in quantum computing shot up by 157%, while those in blockchain increased 72%.

Shaheen Sayed, technology lead for Accenture in the UK & Ireland, said competition for skilled technology workers was likely to intensify "as businesses fast track their transformations and industries become permanently digitised."

Employers are already feeling the pinch: 60% of employers surveyed by Hackajob said they had lost out on talent over the past 12-24 months due to increased competition, while 63% said they had put initiatives in place to retain and upskill employees. 

Businesses are also casting a wider net when it comes to recruitment, with 42% of employers telling Hackajob they were considering remote candidates.

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Making remote work, work 

Most employers surveyed by Hackajob (84%) reported they were moving to a hybrid model that combined office and remote working. This transition may prove difficult for organizations whose workforces have largely been office-based.

Microsoft, for example, recently warned that remote working could have a detrimental effect on workplace communication and productivity after research found that its own US workforce suffered from communication issues when employees were instructed to work remotely in March 2020.

Meanwhile, Google has given its US staff the option to work fully-remote going forward, though at the expense of potential salary adjustments for those living in cheaper commuter towns.

In Hackajob's survey, 53% of tech workers said they wouldn't consider taking a pay cut to work remotely, compared with just 27% who believe this might be necessary to secure remote work. 

Chaffey said: "It will be interesting to see what shifts first and what shifts furthest – workers' expectations about remote working or employers' demands about being in the office."