November 28, 2022

Will Remote Workers Be the First to Go

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Businesses are adjusting to post-pandemic operations, trying to grow and remain profitable but balancing an increasingly challenging workforce development and management scenario. Labor shortages, skills gaps, the Great Resignation, and changing employee expectations make for a very tight labor market. Add to that, the advantages, and disadvantages of hiring remote workers.

Remote Workers Worried Despite Trends and Predictions 

Remote job market trends and projections predict that work from home is going to be big in 2023. But talent acquisition sources report that workers are worried about remote jobs getting cut. With economists predicting a recession in 2023, many employers are planning adjustments.

That has remote workers thinking they will be the first to lose their jobs if there are reductions in force. A recent Goodhire survey of 3,500 Americans shows that almost half of workers say they would accept a pay cut to keep working from home. But many more are worried about remote jobs.

Workers More Willing to Return to In-Office Work but Still Conflicted

The survey showed some surprising results about how workers feel about remote and on-site work. About half would take a pay cut or give up a benefit to remain working remotely, almost the same amount would not accept a pay cut for remote work. Compared to in 2021 when 61 percent would take a pay cut to continue working remotely. More than three quarters feel that remote workers should be paid less than those who work on-site full time.

Additionally, 84 percent of workers are worried about missing out on raises and promotions if they work remotely, even if pay cuts for remote working don’t happen. More than half of workers believe employers who don’t offer remote work will have a hard time finding applicants and have to offer higher salaries for in-office work. A majority felt that remote workers are more at risk of being cut during a recession than on-site workers.

More Managers Say Remote Workers Will Be Cut First

Companies that hire remote workers could be less and less desirable as employers as the recession looms nearer and workers become more worried. LA Times reports that in  another recent survey by business presentation software maker, 60% of managers said remote workers would probably be cut first. Workplace proximity bias is most likely behind this management sentiment.

Experts explain this bias as being stronger more recently as more people return to the office as pandemic-forced remote work eases up. Talent acquisition experts like those at outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas report that workplace proximity bias will be stronger if top executives prefer having people on-site. Front line managers and department heads will most likely follow top management’s preferences.

Remote workers aren’t a protected class and aren’t protected from employment discrimination. They also don’t fall under protections of the WARN Act that requires employers to give 60-days’ notice of mass layoff or plant closing because they fall into a legal gray area that hasn’t been clarified in the courts of the Department of Labor. This is more cause for concern for those who work from home.

More Open to Return to Office in 2022 than in 2021

Survey results in 2021 and 2022 show a slight shift in worker sentiment regarding remote working. In 2021, without the looming shadow of recession, workers felt more strongly about remote work. In 2022, they still like remote work but are more open to on-site and hybrid work. They feel remote work may not be as stable or good for their careers as it was earlier in the pandemic.

Even as companies bring workers back to the office, layoffs are increasing, further cause for workers to worry about their positions. Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported a 68 percent increase in job cuts in September 2022 over 2021. While remote work may seem more vulnerable going into a recession, many still value it for the work-life balance and cost savings it affords workers.

Employers may still benefit from expanding remote job opportunities. While there are no accurate studies for the best ways to survive remote job layoffs yet, the coming recession appears to have made workers both more worried about remote work and more willing to work on-site.

The Experts at AccruePartners Can Help 

The recruiting team at AccruePartners are experts in making the right talent match for all types of career opportunities.  Whether the opportunity is in-office, hybrid, or fully remote, our recruiters thoroughly prepare candidates for each step of the hiring process while supporting hiring managers to make sure the right career match is made and they are positioned for success.  

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