The latest quarterly Flexible Working Index—a report which tracks evolving trends across the flexible jobs market—has recorded a sharp shift away from remote work among employers. Among job seekers, however, demand for remote work remains strong. The more flexibility companies offer staff around working locations, the more popular they are among job seekers.
Over the last quarter, there were 305 candidates searching for every one “remote-first” role, in which there may be office or co-working space available to use, but there is no obligation to come in. The findings come as nearly three-quarters (73%) of firms who are currently attempting to recruit admit that they’ve found it difficult to fill vacancies.
The Index analyzes data from Flexa, a platform where flexible companies get discovered. This latest analysis pooled data insights from a sample of over 360,000 job searches and over 2,200 job adverts between July and September 2023.
More Roles Are Requiring More Office Attendance
Over the last quarter, the number of jobs advertising “fully remote” work, where companies are unlikely to have offices and have no requirement for staff to come in, has remained level, but very low. Fully remote roles accounted for just 4% of job posts overall between July and September, on average.
Remote-first roles were more common than fully remote ones but were in sharp decline. Over the last three months, the number of job adverts offering remote-first work dropped by 22%, accounting for 23% of all job posts in July, compared to nearly a fifth (18%) of all job posts in September.
This means that roles offering three to four work-from-home days per week still represented over a third of all job adverts in September, making them more common than roles which offered just one or two work-from-home days per week last month. But while the former are in decline, the latter have risen rapidly.
The number of jobs advertising one or two days of home-based work per week almost doubled (up by 91%) over the last three months—accounting for 11% of all job posts in July, compared to 21% of all job adverts in September.
Increasing requirements for more office attendance may therefore fuel even more competition for roles offering location-based flexibility going forward, if supply continues to decrease and demand holds firm.
“The news is full of stories about companies cutting back on remote work, and calling workers back into offices right now,” said Molly Johnson-Jones, co-founder and chief executive officer of Flexa. “Our data confirms this trend. It also reveals the flipside of the story. A huge majority of companies still offer some degree of location-based flexibility. And whether staff spend four days working from home or one, it’s important to remember that this still ‘qualifies’ as location-based flexibility.”
The More Remote Work Days Roles Offer, The More Job Seekers Want Them
When it comes to job seekers’ preferred working locations, job searches have remained stable over the last quarter. But since the start of the year, the more location-based flexibility roles offer, the more popular they are among job seekers.
Between July and September, over half (53%) of workers were searching for companies that offer fully remote jobs, on average. During the same period, 41% of workers were searching for remote-first jobs, 11% were searching for roles offering three to four work-from-home days per week, and 6% were searching for jobs that came with one to two work-from-home days per week.
Only in January 2023, when the same number of job seekers were searching for companies that offer both fully remote and remote-first roles (47% overall), has the working location preference pecking order been any different.
Job searches for companies that offer different kinds of flexible working setups have also remained stable over the last quarter. For example, the number of workers searching for flexible working hours has hovered at the 10% mark since July.