Interest in remote working is at an all time high. Research from SEMrush shows that searches on Google for “remote work” have increased by over 300% in July 2022, compared to July 2021. And our own research shows that searches for “remote IT jobs” have skyrocketed in the last year, increasing by 900%.
In a recent example, Elon Musk attempted to end hybrid and remote work completely, forcing Twitter staff back into the office. We say attempted, after he reneged his own decision after Twitter staff reacted to this by leaving in droves.
So while demand is clearly high and growing higher, is remote work the best thing for you and your career? We’ve researched the short and long-term effects of remote working, and the results are less clear cut.
Current Attitudes To Remote Working
The evidence shows that remote and flexible working is on the top of everyone’s priorities. Owl Lab’s 2021 State of Remote Work report found that 84% of employees shared that they would prefer to work remotely, with 5% even willing to take a pay cut.
But here at Dynamic, we’ve noticed a shift in the attitudes of IT professionals. As we head into 2023 we’re speaking to more IT professionals who are wanting to get back into the office. Rising cost-of-living is making remote work less of the economic advantage it has been previously.
Remote Work and Mental Health
One of the biggest negative impacts of remote work is on mental wellbeing. In the early days of the pandemic, a study from Nuffield Health showed that 80% of Brits felt that “remote working had had a negative impact on their mental health”.
In recent years the UK workplace has adjusted to a more hybrid and remote friendly way of working. Unfortunately, things haven’t improved when it comes to mental wellbeing for everyone. Research from Chargifi reveals that “81% of younger workers say they would feel more isolated without time in the office”: Remote working appears to have a disproportionate effect on younger workers, and this isn’t just reflected solely in mental health issues.
But the negative impacts of remote work on mental wellbeing aren’t relegated solely to junior members of the team.
The latest data from Future Forum’s 2022 survey found that “executives reported 40% more work-related stress and anxiety, 20% worse work-life balance, and 15% less job satisfaction in the past year”. Whether these problems are due to difficulties in managing a largely remote workforce, the disconnect from the team, or having to adapt to this new style of management are less clear.
The Effects of Remote Work on the UK Workforce
Because the negative effects of remote work don’t just stop at mental health issues. It even has a documented negative impact on physical wellbeing.
ONS statistics show that the number of people being unfit for work because of neck and back injuries has risen by 62,000 between Quarter 2 in 2019 and 2022. Again this appears to have a large effect on younger workers, with long-term sickness among those aged 25 to 34 jumping by 42%.
It is these far reaching and long term impacts that will have employers worried about offering remote work to employees. Currently there are more open vacancies in the IT industry than ever before, and in the past year employers have struggled to find the right people for their business.
But the relationship between remote work and work-related wellbeing isn’t so clear cut. Microsoft’s Future of Work Report highlights the differences, that “Remote work and subsequent work-life balance and job autonomy can improve job satisfaction, but employees may feel socially isolated, guilty and try to overcompensate”.
The Effects of Remote Working on Your Career
Studies show that remote working can also have a detrimental effect on your career progression.
Remote workers are often overlooked compared to their in-office colleagues; whether it’s project involvement, being put forward for promotions or pay-rises. According to the Microsoft study, “remote work is also associated with lower perceived career prospects”. And a study from Alliance Virtual Offices highlights the disparity between the two groups:
- Remote workers are 38% less likely to receive bonuses.
- They don’t advance as quickly in their careers as their in-office counterparts.
- And that remote workers work more! They often do 50% more overtime compared to in-office colleagues.
So not only could you be paid less overall, you may end up working longer hours… And still not advance as quickly as the competition!
Owl Labs study shows the same, with 55% of employees saying they work more hours when working remotely compared to when working in the office. Arguments for why this is vary. Some workers feel the need to work longer hours to compensate for not physically being in the office. Meanwhile others have difficulty to separate life and work, when your home is also your office.
What Recruitment Experts Think About Remote Working and Your Career
Here at Dynamic, we regularly speak to candidates who want to work completely remote. And of course, we’ll do our best to help find a candidate that works for them. Part of the service we provide, is giving IT Professionals honest and candid advice about the current market, and to support their career progression.
And as we’ve mentioned, remote working can have a negative impact on younger workers’ physical and mental wellbeing. And their career progression is no different.
“The senior staff in the office are the people you’ll be learning from. If they’re in the office and you’re working remotely, you’re not going to learn from them. And if you’re not learning as fast as the competition, you might fall behind and miss opportunities that should be yours.”
Mark Humphreys, Managing Consultant
Of course this reflects equally on senior members of staff who want to work remotely. Without the proper processes and systems in place, when senior team members are working remotely it can be incredibly hard for the junior members of the team to learn.
While the statistics show that detrimental effects of remote working, this isn’t the case for everyone. For every remote worker who struggles, there are those who thrive working from home. It all comes down to you, your career path, your individual needs, and how you work best. But it’s worth baring in mind that there are serious drawbacks to your health and career to consider.
Here at Dynamic we work with a variety of IT businesses that offer remote, hybrid, in-house and on-site roles. If you’re not happy in your current role, reach out to one of our expert IT Recruitment Consultants here. Or, have a look at our open vacancies here to find a job that supports your working needs.