Remote jobs decline but demand stays strong, as firms struggle to recruit

Posted on Oct 25, 2023

The latest quarterly Flexible Working Index – a report which tracks evolving trends across the flexible jobs market – has recorded a sharp shift away from remote work among employers. 

Amongst job seekers, however, demand for remote work remains strong. The more flexibility companies offer staff around working locations, the more popular they are amongst job seekers.

Over the last quarter, there were 305 candidates searching for everyone “remote-first” role (whereby there may be office or co-working space available for staff to use, but there is no obligation to come in) posted.

The findings come as nearly three-quarters (73%) of firms who are currently attempting to recruit admit that they’ve found it difficult to fill vacancies. 

The Index analyses data from Flexa: the platform where flexible companies get discovered. This latest analysis pooled data insights from a sample of over 360,000 job searches, and over 2,200 job adverts between July and September 2023. 

More roles require more office attendance

Over the last quarter, the number of jobs advertising “fully remote” work (whereby companies are unlikely to have offices and have no requirement for staff to come in even if they do) has remained level, but very low. Fully remote roles accounted for just 4% of job posts overall between July and September, on average. 

Remote-first roles were more common than fully remote roles, but were in sharp decline. Over the last three months, the number of job adverts offering remote-first work dropped by 22% – accounting for 23% of all job posts in July, compared to 18% (nearly a fifth) of all job posts in September.

During the same period, the number of jobs advertising 3-4 days of home-based work per week fell by 24% – accounting for 46% of all job posts in July, compared to 35% of all job posts in September. 

This means that roles offering 3-4 WFH days per week still represented over a third of all job adverts in September however, making them more common than roles which offered just 1-2 WFH days per week last month. But whilst the former are in decline, the latter have risen rapidly. 

The number of jobs advertising 1-2 days of home-based work per week almost doubled (up by 91%) over the last three months – accounting for 11% of all job posts in July, compared to 21% of all job adverts in September. 

Increasing requirements for more office attendance may therefore fuel even more competition for roles offering location-based flexibility going forward if supply continues to decrease and demand holds firm.

Molly Johnson-Jones, Co-founder and CEO of Flexa, comments:“The news is full of stories about companies cutting back on remote work, and calling workers back into offices right now. Our data confirms this trend. It also reveals the flipside of the story. A huge majority of companies still offer some degree of location-based flexibility. And whether staff spend four days working from home or one, it’s important to remember that this still ‘qualifies’ as location-based flexibility. “Many employers undersell their offering by thinking that they can only lay claim to location-based flexibility if their staff work from home year-round. This risks companies losing out on tons of talent that would rather have the option to use office space some of the time and work from home on other days – an arrangement that arguably offers staff the most choice of all. Therefore, at Flexa, we encourage companies to specify exactly how they split their time between home and the office so that candidates can make informed decisions and find roles that suit them.”

The more WFH days roles offer, the more job seekers want them

When it comes to job seekers’ preferred working locations, job searches have remained stable. Over the last quarter But – and, indeed, since the start of the year – the more location-based flexibility roles offer, the more popular they are amongst job seekers.

Between July and September, over half (53%) of workers were searching for companies that offer fully remote jobs, on average. During the same time period, 41% of workers were searching for remote-first jobs, 11% were searching for roles offering 3-4 WFH days per week, and 6% were searching for jobs that came with 1-2 WFH days per week (on average).

Only in January 2023, when the same number of job seekers were searching for companies that offer both fully remote and remote-first roles (47% overall), has the working location preference pecking order been any different. 

Job searches for companies that offer different kinds of flexible working set-ups have also remained stable over the last quarter. For example, the number of workers searching for flexible working hours has hovered at the 10% mark since July. 

Molly Johnson-Jones, Co-founder and CEO of Flexa, comments:“We’ve seen a fair bit of movement when it comes to the kinds of roles companies are advertising over the last quarter. But job seekers know what they want, and are standing firm on their preferences. For the 73% of companies who are struggling to recruit right now, at least this makes it clear how they could turn things around. In some cases, this might simply mean recognising and celebrating the flexibility already on offer – including location-based flexibility that takes the shape of 1 or 2 WFH days per week. “Job seekers are clear on their preference for fully remote and remote-first work in particular. And the flexible companies we showcase at Flexa are doing them proud. This month, we celebrated the most flexible companies across different industries as part of our Flexible Industry Awards, with 80% of the winners offering remote-first work. They include Blood Cancer UK, Centrica and Oliva.”

Recommended For You