In 2022, business leaders around the globe face a plethora of questions: In a post-pandemic economy, what does the job market look like? Will a new remote workforce dominate for the foreseeable future, and what are the business implications if it does?
While uncertainties persist, we can turn to data to better understand this transitional job market. RW3 CultureWizard is teaming up with Revelio Labs to provide insight into how we can navigate these changing times with greater understanding and ease. As it turns out, the data shows that the outlook for a post-pandemic job market might not be as grim as anticipated.
Consensus on Remote Work
One of the most significant findings is that a large majority of employees enjoy working from home. An analysis of employee sentiment data finds that positive reviews mentioning remote work greatly outnumber negative reviews. Not surprisingly, the number of positive reviews with remote mentions increased dramatically at the beginning of 2020. Presently, it continues to hover far above the number of negative reviews.
A recent employee survey by RW3 CultureWizard had similar results. In 2020 Trends in Virtual and Global Teams, more than 70% of 2,600 respondents said they would prefer to continue working remotely even after offices reopen. While 20% were undecided, only 10% of employees surveyed said they would not want to continue working remotely.
Virtual work does pose certain challenges, most notably with relationship-building, communication, and a rise in job fluidity that some have labeled The Great Resignation—a wave of attrition that seems to be sweeping the organizational landscape, as many workers can now move more easily between opportunities.
In a world where virtual interviews have become the norm, some presume that a hypermobile workforce will negatively impact teams and businesses. However, for an accurate understanding of the job market, it’s best to look at this change in employment patterns through an objective lens.
The Great Resignation—Crisis or Opportunity?
One essential question is whether the Great Resignation is truly a new long-term job market norm, or just a temporary state of flux arising from a greater freedom to consider diverse employment opportunities.
While it might be the perception that people are now leaving jobs more quickly, an analysis of job postings data reveals that both in-person and virtual job openings are also filling more rapidly. Furthermore, as of May 2022, there was no difference between the time it took to fill remote and non-remote postings.
This data tells us that a remote workforce does not equate to a dwindling one. Also, the drastic increase in recent resignations combined with a sudden decrease in time-to-fill for all positions points to a temporary transitional state–an aftershock triggered in the wake of the Pandemic.
So does a remote workforce actually signal an ill fate for employers? Employee sentiment data from Revelio shows that, on the contrary, in-person and remote workers tend to stay at companies for the same amount of time. This suggests that remote work itself is not necessarily a primary causal factor in the fluidity that has recently flooded the job market.
In fact, it might be a welcomed respite. The data also shows that remote workers tend to be happier with their companies’ philosophies on work-life balance, so following the shock of a global health crisis, it seems that remote work could actually be what helps us recover.
Additionally, while survey results show that leaders of remote teams perceive some challenges with maintaining team engagement and motivation at virtual meetings, the data counters those results, revealing that virtual employees give higher ratings of senior leadership than non-remote workers.
So while high turnover rates pose real challenges for many companies, having satisfied employees who truly want to be where they are is also a major catalyst for organizational success.
Virtual Communication and Relationships
It is a common assumption–and statistically demonstrated opinion of business leaders–that relationship-building on remote teams is more challenging than on non-remote teams.
However, the 2020 Trends in Virtual and Global Teams survey reveals that communication and relationship-building on virtual teams doesn’t pose as great a challenge as expected.
When asked how much more difficult it is to communicate in a virtual work setting than in person, 35% said that there was no difference, close to 60% percent said that it was slightly more difficult, and less than 10% felt that it was much more difficult.
The results also revealed that remote employees felt managing conflict and building relationships were only “somewhat challenging,” while understanding accents, responsiveness, and participating during virtual meetings were not challenging at all.
When asked if virtual teammates were able to adjust their communication styles to compensate for the lack of visual contact, over 50% either agreed or strongly agreed, while just over 30% were neutral, and only about 10% disagreed.
These statistics indicate that while communication, relationship-building, and task management on remote teams might necessitate new approaches, these critical elements of productivity are not acutely threatened by a highly remote or hybrid work environment.
Where Do We Go?
Regardless of cause, the fact is that we are indeed facing a newly fluid job market, and we need effective ways to navigate it. This starts with changing our lens on the current situation.
Statistics clearly show that remote work doesn’t pose a significant threat to effective teams, job satisfaction, or career longevity. Ultimately, the data suggests that there is simply a call to address the expected, yet resolvable, challenges of a remote workforce.
Whether the recent increase in workforce mobility is transitory or a new normal, it is prudent to turn our attention towards enhancing interpersonal relationships and onboarding procedures; this will yield more collaborative teams that help meet the call of the modern job market.
Interestingly, survey results show that nearly 75% of employees have not received targeted training to increase productivity as virtual team members. These are the same participants who said that virtual communication was not a significant challenge.
Armed with the right awareness and resources to adapt, then, the minor challenges of a remote workforce could easily be extinguished. And given the statistically-proven preference for virtual work, this is an adaptation well worth pursuing. In doing so, both employers and employees might discover opportunities to cultivate novel skills and perspectives.
When survey participants were asked what practices they had adopted to enhance collaboration on virtual teams, they responded with an array of solutions, such as an increase in conscious inclusion, and more opportunities to connect on a personal level. These are practices that generate more collaborative and productive teamwork, whether virtual or not.
The post-Pandemic rise in remote work and the new job market flux offer reason to pause and reflect: what can our companies and teams do better to ensure strong, connected relationships that enhance organizational success and employee retention?
Ultimately, we will be much better positioned for success if we can address the current reality with an objective focus that’s free of fear or hypothesis, and instead implement actionable steps to meet this new reality with dexterity and dynamism.