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Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter was followed by his first email to employees banning remote work unless they have a specific exception (managers will send the exception lists to Musk for his personal review and approval) and setting out the expectation that staff will be in the office for at least 40 hours per week.

Musk’s move was widely anticipated after he informed Tesla’s employees, five months ago, that working remotely is no longer acceptable, and those workers unwilling to abide by the new rules can “pretend to work somewhere else”.

When such a high profile business owner makes his antipathy to remote work so unequivocal it must raise doubts about the predicted norm of remote work.

This week, a LinkedIn study, which spoke to 100 Australian company leaders, reported that 36% of local leaders were reducing flexible working and hybrid working roles already.

And half (47%) of all surveyed by LinkedIn admitted they’d also slashed employee sweeteners like WFH internet expenses, training and development, and remote work equipment allowances.

Founder of The Future of Talent, Kevin Wheeler‘s (pictured with me at this week’s ATC) number two prediction in yesterday’s Fearless Forecast was “remote work isn’t as sustainable as people thought it would be”.

Wheeler laid out the stats from recent data releases:

  • Only 16% of companies are fully remote
  • No remote work is the rule in 44% of companies
  • Hybrid working is preferred by 72% of employees
  • Only 12% of employees prefer to be in the office full time

Most tellingly, 51% of applications made via Linkedin, were made to just 14% of the jobs that were advertised as fully remote.

Airbnb and Atlassian offer fully remote work while Twitter heads in the opposite direction.

My 23-year-old son, Guy, has always enjoyed working five days in the office as he has always worked close to home.

Recently, he started a new job on the fringes of the Melbourne CBD, a 40-minute drive from his house, and now works from home two days per week.

He’s enjoying the extra hours at home and finds he now prefers his new work arrangements. Guy’s experience seems to mirror many of his Gen Z peers.

Many recruitment agency owners I have spoken to recently told me their Gen Z employees are mostly working from home and prefer to keep it this way.

For many employees (not just recruiters) I suspect there’s a high correlation between commuting distance (and cost) and the reluctance to work from the office more than two days per week.

Kevin Wheeler’s number one Fearless Forecast prediction was “talent shortages will remain and will get worse over time”, primarily due to demographic trends, and changing attitudes to work.

Any employer who takes a hard line to remote work will find their position thoroughly tested in the open market for the best workers, especially in knowledge work. Clearly some occupations, for example, tradies and aged care workers, are never going to be working from home.

The power of talent intelligence (Wheeler’s eighth prediction was “talent intelligence and analytics become the norm”) will play a critical role in helping employers differentiate, with greater certainty, the productivity of individuals and teams.

This real-time and high-quality talent intelligence will surely become one of the leading factors in the next wave of decisions about who, what, and when with respect to remote, hybrid, and on-site work.

Related blogs

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Musings from the 2022 RCSA Conference: The age of the individualist is here – are you ready?

A 2011 prediction of a key employee in 2020 – how right was Kevin Wheeler?

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James Purtell

I wonder whether, over time, we will have an even more exacerbated shortage of teachers, tradies and nurses because people will be more inclined to choose careers which allow them more flexibility in their work location.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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