Pre-COVID, this is a question that came up later – if at all – during my conversations with job seekers. Today, it’s one of the first questions that they ask. It’s also become a standard question on our client intake forms. It’s such an expected line item for candidates that not having a clear policy can put your business at a real disadvantage.
Fully Remote, In-Person or Hybrid: What Do Job Seekers Want?
There’s been a lot of attention given to how a year plus of remote work has changed our expectations for the workday. In a competitive talent market, candidates aren’t afraid to say “no” to companies that don’t align with their needs. In a few cases, I’ve spoken to candidates that strongly prefer to be 100% remote. Others are the opposite: they want to be in the office meeting with people in-person. But the vast majority of candidates I speak with prefer a hybrid approach.
For many candidates, hybrid work weeks offer the best of both worlds, providing invaluable work-life balance. They gain flexibility to address personal needs or skip a lengthy daily commute. For example, consider a candidate living in downtown Chicago who doesn’t have a car. Commuting to a suburban office five days a week won’t make sense but coming in one or two days a week might be an option. Companies that are willing to consider more flexible policies benefit from a deeper talent pool and more satisfied employees.
Why a Work From Home Policy Matters for Hiring Success
Recently, I worked with a candidate who accepted a new position. The company onboarded him fully remote and told him they planned to return to a hybrid work week. He believed the hybrid setup would be two days in the office and three at home, which he was excited about.
Soon, though, the company said it would actually be four days in the office and one day working remotely. This caught him off guard. With a commute of over an hour each way, the time burden just didn’t make sense. The candidate had to move on from the company because of that miscommunication.
I don’t fault the hiring manager for this outcome. They told the candidate what they anticipated would happen, but then senior leadership changed the policy. Unfortunately, the company lost a great new hire in the process. This is why it’s imperative to have a clearly defined work-from-home policy and be transparent about this policy throughout the hiring process. If changes do need to be made, it’s better to move from restrictive to more flexible rather than the other way. With so much in flux at the moment, candidates are considering a number of factors when making job decisions, and in general, the more flexible your business can be, the more attractive your company will look.
Beyond Flexible Schedules: Adding Other Benefits to Your Work from Home Policy
A work from home policy can encompass much more than a hybrid schedule. It may include a stipend for a home office, complimentary laptops, monitors and phones, or access to furniture like a standing desk or ergonomic chair. You may offer additional training or resources that other companies don’t.
The perks can also be tangentially related to working remotely. For example, at Lucas Group, we offer mental awareness programs and resources. The pandemic has taken a toll on mental health, with four in 10 adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. If your company has initiatives to address mental well-being, be sure your candidates know about them.
Remote work flexibility continues to be in high demand. Has your company made permanent changes to its work from home policy? I invite you to share what’s been successful for your business in the comments below.