Although China seems to be a notable exception, in many countries the vaccine effort, the Omicron variant and new drugs have all helped to play a part in bringing the Covid pandemic under control.
Along with it, the Covid-induced global experiment in working from home is also coming to an end. With many countries now relaxing restrictions, the dust is settling and the workplace that has been reshaped by the pandemic is becoming better defined.
For many, hybrid working – the mix of working from home and the office and its proven ability to support better productivity – is perhaps the main way that things have changed.
Recruiters will be acutely aware of the importance of including hybrid working in job descriptions. Gallup recently asked workers what was most important to them when deciding whether to accept a new job offered by an employer.
The survey data from February 2022 found that 61% of respondents cited a greater work-life balance and better personal wellbeing as a requirement for their next job.
Some companies wholeheartedly embraced the flexible approach of hybrid working long before the pandemic. Many that didn’t, cite remote working created problems for key management duties and business activities, such as supervision, collaboration and training, to name but three.
Some employers have been held back by an unwillingness to try it out and judge hybrid working on its merits and have had to wait until now to see the proof.
Perhaps the most notable example is Google, which has long opposed the practice. However, the company required employees to return to the office from early April, but now this only needs to be for three days a week.
This is still way more than the most progressive tech companies. Atlassian, an Australian headquartered global IT service management software provider, must certainly be a leader when it comes to the work-life balance and working from home. It only requires attendance at the office four days a year.
Many recruiters might assume the case for hybrid working is an open and shut case. However, you would be sorely mistaken.
Faced with irrefutable proof, there are still some that refute the hybrid model and want to see a full five-day week return to the office. One of the most high-profile is the British Government.
Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, Minister of State for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency, wrote to ministers of other government departments urging them to coerce staff to return rapidly to the office.
He has also been seen leaving notes in empty Whitehall workspaces saying: “I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon.” This is a move some have labelled as ‘patronising’ and ‘passive-aggressive’, sure-fire qualities that are at odds with recruiting for the modern workplace.
Citing his mandate to deliver efficiency, his motivation is to obtain taxpayer value from the prime real estate of London government ministry buildings by having full occupancy.
This is out of step with the approach of commercial businesses that are generating cost saving efficiencies from hybrid working by downsizing existing offices, relocating to smaller more economic premises, or even ditching the bricks and mortar model altogether.
There is a strong suspicion that this will lead to difficulties in recruiting government jobs, especially where younger workers are needed. With the talent shortage well established, it is likely that civil service jobs will look very unattractive against private sector roles.
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