Remote no longer a differentiator – Stability and Security are key

With a critical mass of people experiencing remote work over the course of 2020 employee expectations have solidified around their desired remote setup.  

We conducted a number of surveys through Q4 2020 with the technical community in Ireland to better understand these expectations so that companies can better understand the needs and desires of current and future employees. 

98% of those we surveyed expect future roles to have at a minimum a blended remote option. This leaves no doubt that remote in one form or another is here to stay and companies must adjust with this change. With remote becoming more commonplace companies will no longer be able to compete using remote work as a differentiator or pull factor and instead will need to consider their remote policy and processes and how to stand out as a leading remote employer. 

To do this, it is necessary to understand the needs of one’s market and in this case employees. One of the clearest trends identified in our research is that while seeking remote flexibility a majority of people are still looking for a level of stability and security in their work. 

 

There are three main areas in which people are looking for this stability and security 

 

Permanent Employees

Over 75% of those we surveyed stated it was either “very important” or “extremely important” for a company to have a legal entity in their country so that they could be a permanent employee rather than a contractor. 

Our expectation is that this is due to the greater stability offered as a permanent employee as well as the additional benefits offered by companies. Convenience is another driver we believe as people do not wish to take on the burden of working as a contractor and the administrative work that can accompany that. 

For companies, we believe this is an extremely important finding. It forces companies to be strategic in looking to incorporate remote work as there will likely be a need to establish an entity in the country. On the positive side for local companies, it does limit some of the global competition that companies can expect from candidates being more open to remote work.

Focus on In-Region 

This reduction of the impact of global competition is continued as we see candidates prefer to work for a company with a presence in the region they are based. 

Just under 90% of those we surveyed stated that their preference for proximity to a head office would be within +/- 1-3 hours. This is strengthened as we saw over 30% state they would reject messages from companies more than 4 hours outside their own time zone and an additional 40% state they would reject them from companies 7 hours away. It seems for employees the location of their line manager is important too with only 13% stating they would be comfortable with a manager more than 4 hours outside their own timezone. 

This shows that while people are looking for remote flexibility and benefits they wish to retain a sense of stability and belonging through proximity to a manager and office and continue to work close to standard business hours for their country. 

For companies, this decreases the impact of global competition and we believe they should focus recruitment efforts on the local market first. The likelihood of engagement from candidates decreases with distance from the company and this should be incorporated as part of recruitment and talent strategies. 

Compensation

Across 6 options over 30% of our respondents stated that compensation would be the most important consideration when deciding between different remote roles. This is reflective of the fact that when remote is no longer effective as a differentiator when looking to recruit there is a greater focus on compensation by candidates. While it may not be the deciding factor and companies can compete based on culture, ambition, and opportunities it is once more going to be a factor between roles that all offer remote work. 

Remote work brings its own specific challenges for compensation. 60% of those surveyed stated they would expect for their compensation to be based on the HQ market rather than the local one. This creates issues for companies targeting low cost economies as talent sources and will be an emerging challenge for HR and People Ops to benchmark compensation when recruiting remote talent. 

Additionally, candidates will be increasingly looking for support in working remotely whether this is to cover utilities only (36%) or having their working day food covered too (25%). This carries to their remote office setup with people expecting the company to cover costs of new equipment across laptops, chairs, headphones, and a variety of other items. 

Given this, while there may be some savings available to companies through reduced real-estate and office costs there are additional financial considerations as remote becomes more commonplace and companies compete on compensation and candidates expect companies to cover costs for working from home. 

 

Conclusion: 

For Irish technical talent, remote work is here to stay and expectations have solidified around what they want and need from employers. 

Companies should be proactive in looking to create an attractive offering that gives employees the benefits of remote flexibility while allaying any concerns around security and stability of work.