Forge Recruitment Survey on Work from Home Flexibility and Employee Engagement
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the idea of working from home may have been met with criticisms like: ‘it cannot be done,’ It is not effective;’ ‘How will we monitor employee performance?’ The thought of allowing staff to work from home, while still ensuring work was completed, billables were met, and clients were taken care of, was almost unheard of.
March of 2020 forced firms and businesses to adapt and evolve. Schedules changed, meetings went online, and ultimately, how, and where people worked changed. The adaptation to secure employees’ wellbeing while keeping them engaged presented several challenges, but one year later; many have mastered the art of balancing work and home life. As a recruitment firm, we wanted to identify how candidates are working and what the future looks like for firms, to ensure they continue securing top talent.
The Data and Trends:
In May of 2021, Forge Recruitment conducted a survey to determine how employees feel after more than a year of working a work from home (WFH) model. Our goal was to gain an understanding on what employees are looking for to keep them engaged, happy, and comfortable, while also determining what the future of work looks like for law firms and organizations. What we found was that even a year later, 60% of respondents stated that they are currently working from home full-time. 24% of respondents stated that they have a mix of work from home and work in office and, not surprisingly, only 16% of respondents stated that they are working in the office full-time.
Considering the above, the vital question becomes: “In a virtual world, how can companies continue to secure talent through work from home options?”
We found that 73% of respondents describe their ideal work model as being a mix of work from home and work in the office. In fact, 55% of respondents told us that they would consider changing jobs if asked to return to the office 100% full-time. Although these numbers may be alarming, a reassuring 76% of respondents of an earlier survey (December 2020) suggest that employees feel comfortable returning to the office, just not 100% of the time. Employees have identified that a WFH model works and now know that it can be accomplished. If they are not provided with this option, it is highly probable that these employees may explore new career opportunities.
From an engagement perspective, while Zoom fatigue is becoming a real challenge, the data shows that most people are still quite happy with their employers while working from home. In fact, 41% of respondents stated that they feel very engaged with their current job and company, while 47% still feel somewhat engaged.
Further, 52% of respondents feel they have the same level of support and opportunity for career advancement currently, as they did prior to the pandemic when they were working from home. 25% of respondents stated that they felt they have greater support now than they did prior to the pandemic. (Perhaps remote work has pushed Managers and Supervisory Staff to be in more frequent communication with their teams to discuss succession and goals).
Looking to the Future:
Addressing the many criticisms to a WFH model, including a lack of employee engagement and the inability to provide employee support, we have found that when managed and implemented correctly, work from home flexibility not only works, but allows employees and businesses to flourish.
Forge Recruitment itself began as a business that was fully work from home since its inception in 2017. In that time, the business has managed to grow and scale through providing weekly touchpoints with staff, ongoing training, and monthly social events to maintain employee engagement.
As the job market becomes ever more challenging and competitive, candidates are in an ideal position to make demands of prospective employers, including asking for a work from home model, requesting additional training and support, and prioritization of work-life balance. The above data is not only suggestive but should be at the forefront of managements’ mind in any working environment.
When considering a return to office, it is best to assume that your competitor is likely offering a fully, or hybrid, remote opportunity to that same candidate. Are you willing to risk losing your staff?