Remote work jobs are disappearing, providing goldmine of talent for remote bosses

It’s becoming increasingly rare to find a manager still preaching the benefits of fully remote work four years out from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Bosses of the world’s biggest companies have walked back flexible remarks on office working habits as they seek to get more control over their staffers and make use of expensive office space.

But those who have stood firm against growing return-to-office calls may reap the benefits by accessing the cream of the crop from a growing talent pool. 

Remote positions plummet

According to new data from LinkedIn, the share of remote positions posted on the job site has plummeted in the last 12 months. 

In the U.K., remote job postings have dipped more than 13% since February last year, while in Ireland they have dropped more than 21%. The falls are higher in Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

However, the oppressive message hasn’t gotten through to applicants, who appear as keen for remote work as ever. 

Around two out of five applications on the job site are for remote roles in the U.K., Ireland, and Germany, according to the job board, with little change from early in 2023.

The inevitable outcome, according to LinkedIn, is a higher share of talented individuals will be fighting for a shrinking share of remote jobs, creating a potential goldmine for those employers.

“It’s clear that companies offering flexibility will attract the best talent,” said Josh Graff, managing director for EMEA & LATAM and a vice president at LinkedIn.

“While businesses continue to reflect on what’s right for their organisations, it’s important that business leaders consider the wider benefits of flexible working, which are proven to aid workforce diversity and are particularly appealing for those with care-giving responsibilities.” 

There is still an evident pandemic carryover in remote work levels, with one out of 10 roles in the the U.K. listed as remote, much higher than before COVID-19. 

But LinkedIn’s data is the latest to show a supply-demand mismatch between stubborn employers and flexibility-seeking employees. 

Increasingly, employees appear willing to make sacrifices to maintain a fully remote existence. 

According to a survey by FlexJobs published in October, a majority of employees said remote work was more important to them than their salary, their work-life balance, and a good boss.

That means many workers would be willing to take a pay cut to keep a remote job, the research found.

That olive branch isn’t being accepted by most employers though, who have stepped up their anti-remote work rhetoric in recent months, with some trying to force staffers back to the office full-time.

Earlier in March, the CEO of U.K. retailer Boots demanded his employees return to a five-day work week from September. 

The shift is likely to severely affect working mothers, who already appear to be searching for new roles.  

Remote employers get their pick of the bunch

However, the data will be music to the ears of remote-first CEOs like Coursera’s Jeff Maggioncalda and Tumblr-owner Automattic’s Matt Mullenweg.

Maggioncalda told Fortune last October that he often didn’t know exactly where most of his 1,400 employees were at any given moment, thanks to the company’s highly flexible remote work policy.

The Coursera boss and Automattic’s Mullenweg agreed they had been able to hire the best talent by not constraining their search to someone who could live within traveling distance of the office, or simply those who were willing to give up remote working. 

They and other companies may expect to have access to a wider, more diverse talent pool.

“In a year where three-quarters of UK professionals are looking to change roles, flexibility will be key to retaining the very best talent,” said LinkedIn’s Graff.

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