My own Great Resignation and reflections on remote working
January 2022, by Vicky Hossack, People and Development Consultant
Like many, 2021 brought about an opportunity to reflect and consider my current position and my future professional development. The pandemic created huge changes in the way workplaces organised themselves and for the first time I experienced remote working from home and enjoyed all the benefits it personally brought about, namely less time spent commuting and avoiding the stress of a daily M1 drive to work and the precious gift of additional time this created to spend with my children both before and after school.
Returning to the office after lockdown came with the realisation that pre-Covid, I routinely spent my Monday to Friday always consciously aware of the clock, experiencing panic when meetings ran over and using the dash to the car park to check traffic on google maps to make sure I picked the best route home in time for nursery pick up. After just a few short weeks back to that same routine, I came to understand that this was the incentive I needed to finally start making my next career move, finding unexpected resolve to make a positive change that would remove some of the main stressors affecting my work/life balance and recognising the importance on my mental health and wellbeing whilst doing so.
As I was finding this resolve, so too did the millions of other UK workers who moved into new roles over the summer of 2021. The Office for National Statistics report that 2.2 million people started a new job between July and September and the number of job vacancies in the UK reached a record high. Motivations likely differed; perhaps a higher salary, a desire to apply a skillset to a new role or like myself, to pursue a more manageable work/life balance through remote working. Throughout this time, workplaces were also changing to suit the new needs and demands of future employees, adapting their working models to be hybrid or fully remote in order to attract and retain talent. The rise in demand of remote working saw opportunities extended to a whole new group of workers who now weren’t constrained by geographical limits.
The emerging data is supporting my experience and other anecdotal evidence. Many workers are moving to industries and sectors more likely to offer hybrid work. According to LinkedIn UK figures, from August to October 2021, the net movement of workers entering software and IT services more than doubled year-over-year. The same report shows that Education experienced a net outflow over the same period and retail being the hardest hit in terms of resignations.
Currently, many businesses are still figuring out their hybrid work policies and whether they need to permanently adapt their working models to meet the demands of the job market. As organisations make these changes, employees are moving to find the working style and patterns they want at this point in their lives. This could see a continuation of the current unsettled labour market as people move around and organisations try to provide solutions that bring out the best from their teams.
What can organisations do in the meantime whilst the market remains unsettled? Here is our advice:
Continue to re-evaluate your hybrid and flexible working policies as your workplace evolves and adjusts to the pandemic. What worked well at a certain point of lockdown easing may not continue to be fit for purpose in the future.
Try and make clear to potential applicants what your approach to hybrid working is through recruitment approach. Help them to imagine what a typical week may look like and how much flexibility they will have in deciding where they will work.
Consider the desirability of your offer to new employees, particularly in jobs which aren’t able to accommodate as much flexibility in remote working. Take a look at the benefits and rewards you can offer to potential applicants as a whole package. Approaches to pay are already being considered by sectors experiencing the most significant disruption – evidenced by recent rises in supermarket wages at major retailers.
As the world of work continues to shift and change with the pandemic, most important is the ability to be flexible and agile in the face of continued changes to the recruitment and labour market. Try to maintain a commitment to engaging your new and existing employees in the development of new policies and working practices to make sure the solutions you create feel right for your organisation.