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What the prevalence of remote work means for the UK workforce

UK remote jobs

UK workers aren’t actively searching for remote work anymore, but it’s not why you think. (Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels)

There are stark differences between how the UK and US labour markets approach remote work, and what that means for employers too.

Working from home, or from anywhere, has taken off in most countries around the world thanks to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most workers want at least some form of remote work. (Photo by Elina Fairytale on Pexels)

Almost globally, the popular opinion — at least among the workforce — is that its benefits outweigh its negatives and it should stay.

However, different countries hold different attitudes towards working from home.

In the United States, where the percentage of employees who work fully remotely or hybrid is lower than in other countries, remote work is in peak demand.

For instance, data from Indeed shows that searches for remote jobs take the cake amongst jobseekers, and remote jobs by far receive the most applicants even when the number of remote job vacancies is much lower than others.

In the United Kingdom, searches for remote jobs are far lower. But the reason why may surprise you, and it gives insight into exactly how remote work has permanently changed the way UK workers think about their jobs.


Why the search for remote work is down

Remote work is still incredibly popular in the UK. (Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova on Pexels)

On the surface, fewer searches for remote work can seem to imply less interest in working remotely.

However, make no mistake: remote work continues to be incredibly popular in the UK.

Rather, most employees in the UK are working hybrid, where they work remotely at least a few days every week or every month.

There is more of a focus on flexibility rather than outright remote work, especially with FlexFrom1st laws set to begin in the near future.

The data suggests that the reason why UK workers aren’t searching for remote jobs isn’t because they don’t want it; it’s because, by now, they expect it.

In a recent report, Indeed as much as confirmed this shift in mentality. It noted: “This may be a somewhat surprising signal that remote work options have become an expectation for job seekers after several years of successfully working from home, not something to be actively sought.”


What does this mean for employers?

UK employers should understand that workers expect remote work. (Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Pexels)

For UK-based employers, the fact that some form of remote work is expected suggests they have far less leeway to debate RTO than their American counterparts might.

While some US companies still grapple with their employees about forcing them to return to physical offices full-time, the fact that most of the UK labour force seems to expect remote work removes that option for UK employers.

Instead, forward-thinking companies should focus on how best to work with their staff on providing remote work options that are mutually beneficial.

It’s clear that the way we work and live has changed forever, and there can be no return to when workers were expected to face long, unpleasant commutes and rigid work schedules daily.

The proverbial battle over the matter has clearly already been concluded in the minds of UK workers, so now employers must adjust accordingly or be left behind.

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