SmartRecruiters Blog
woman working at home

How Remote Work Drives Productivity and Expands Talent Pools

One of the most significant ways COVID-19 changed the workplace is by making remote work possible for many types of employees. It turns out that employees like remote work so much that they don’t want to return to normal — or even adapt to hybrid work — because they have not experienced a loss of productivity.

In 2022, the debate about bringing people back to the office reached peak intensity. Companies like Apple and GM announced return-to-the-office policies only to walk back their request after employees protested.

  • A Monster survey revealed that 40% of workers would quit if they were forced to return to the office even one day a week. 
  • According to the Future Forum, the remote work debate was a tug-of-war between executives and employees: non-executives are more than three times as likely as their bosses to want to work fully remotely.

When it comes to hiring, remote work opens up talent pools. Companies can attract candidates who live in faraway states or rural areas – and they might be more likely to be from diverse groups.

  • One survey found that remote jobs attract 2.2x as many candidates as non-remote​ jobs and 2.2x more women.
  • In September 2022, remote job posts on LinkedIn comprised 14% of all posts but received 52% of all US applications.
  • On Ladders, a site for jobs that pay over $100,000 per year, 36% of all postings for professional jobs were remote in 2022, up from 4% in 2019.

The power of remote work is flexibility

Workplace flexibility – on or off-site – is a productivity driver for people who want balance as they attend to life demands or caregiving responsibilities.

  • Workers with full schedule flexibility report 29% higher productivity and 53% greater ability to focus than those without the ability to shift their schedule. 

The availability of flexible work options has a direct impact on companies’ ability to hire and retain employees.

  • A 2022 survey of CEOs revealed that the number one driver of attrition was the inflexibility of work options and hours.
  • Remote-friendly companies experience 33% lower turnover, demonstrating the importance of hybrid/remote work as a driver for retention as well as productivity. 

Allyn Bailey, Executive Director, SmartRecruiters Hiring Success Services, shared her perspective on hiring in the era of flexible work in Worklife, ‘A lot of messiness’: Will hybrid working ever really work?.

“Those [employers] that are not offering some sort of flexibility or employee autonomy are having a hard time competing for top talent because people just won’t apply. That’s what’s pushing a lot of the HR strategies.”

Questions to consider for remote and hybrid hiring

In 2023, talent leaders will need to consider their teams’ ideal makeup and workflows in the era of distributed work. And recruiters will need to revisit their processes to ensure alignment. Allyn Bailey suggested this future-minded, people-driven approach:

“HR teams need to take a deep breath and ask three questions: What does the real world look like today for people? What does the business need? How do I think about forward-looking strategies rather than trying to retrofit what I thought worked before?”

– Allyn Bailey, Executive Director, Hiring Success Services in Human Resources Director, SmartRecruiters exec: Here’s the problem with hybrid work

As you think about forward-looking strategies, consider the success of your current remote/hybrid processes and look for areas to improve. Here are some additional questions to consider:

  • Which teams work best remotely together? Which positions can we make fully remote? 
  • Which geographic areas will we recruit from? How will this change our recruitment marketing strategy?
  • How will we manage the mix of off- and on-site interviews for candidates hired for hybrid roles? 
  • What promises about time on-site can we make to candidates that we know we can keep? How will we communicate our policies in job ads and during the recruiting process?
  • How will we build an equitable hiring process that evaluates candidates without bias – including proximity bias?
  • What does effective onboarding look like in a hybrid/remote scenario? How can we ensure everyone starts on the same page and is set up for success?

There’s not likely to be one answer to these questions, so you will need recruiting software that can adapt to any scenario – and partners who can guide you. We’d love to help.

Lee Ann Prescott