How important is flexible working to tech candidates?

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How important is flexible working to tech candidates?
Darren Topping

How important is flexible working to tech candidates?

Methods of working – both actual and desired – are constantly changing as we continue to move away from the COVID-19 pandemic, which ushered in a new way of working for everyone.

Methods of working – both actual and desired – are constantly changing as we continue to move away from the COVID-19 pandemic, which ushered in a new way of working for everyone. Lorien’s recent What Tech Candidates Want survey has helped us to narrow down the most current working methods, and what candidates actually want when it comes to how and when they work.

In this blog, we’ll explore:

  • Can flexible working boost candidate attraction?
  • Is the future of work hybrid?
  • What are the pros and cons of flexible working?

To discover more insights like this, don’t forget to check out all of the results from our latest candidate research. Download your free copy of What Tech Candidates Want and join the hundreds of businesses that are using the latest candidate analytics to get ahead in the market.

Do candidates want flexible working? What the research tells us

When it comes to searching for a new role, 26.43% of respondents said flexible working options matter most to them – second only to salary. Although flexible working is not a new possibility, the candidate-driven market and pandemic have shifted the boundaries of office work – and candidates are reluctant to go back to the way things were.

Currently, 5.02% of candidates have gone back to the office full-time, however only 2.14% would actually like to permanently work from an office. This drives home that the five-day working week in the office is a thing of the past, and candidates need more flexibility from potential employers.

However, the lack of desire to work full-time in the office does not mean that all candidates want to be completely remote– the happy medium is allowing candidates to choose their own method of working.

In our survey, 63.44% of respondents were currently working fully remote, but only 55.16% wish to be fully remote, with the remaining 44.84% of respondents wanting a few days in the office each week. This highlights the benefit of flexibility within a role;  with such variation in what candidates want organisations that are open-minded to different working patterns will be best placed to attract the full breadth of talent

Generational and gender differences in remote working requirements

Our What Tech Candidates Want Survey results also called attention to generational and gender differences when it comes to ways of working.

For example, women prioritise flexible working arrangements on a job advertisement, and are currently more likely to be seen in the office when compared to their male counterparts. This is an interesting contradiction, which suggests that women may be more likely to feel pressure for presenteeism than their male counterparts. It also showcases the changing expectations of office vs hybrid working, with men and women looking for opportunities to maximise flexible working in both their current roles and their future ones.

Additionally, zero candidates surveyed under the age of 25 work in the office full-time, and none of them have the desire to do so. This showcases just how much both hybrid and remote work could take off in the next decade, as younger workers who may not have experienced office culture pre-pandemic now become part of the UK’s central workforce.

As the first digital-native generation, Gen Z were already anticipated to shake up office conventions, and with technology-enabled remote working already a proven concept, organisations will need to work hard to prove the value of the office to younger workers.

What organisations have to say

Flexible working can be very divisive amongst organisations. Research from Staffing Industry Analysts shows that flexibility is a fixture in the market, with 28% of all new job postings in January 2023 being advertised as remote. Additionally, many candidates are willing to sacrifice salary and additional benefits for more remote working time as 32% of office-attending candidates would take a pay cut in exchange for the ability to work remotely.

In a previous blog exploring the findings from What Tech Candidates Want related to salary expectations, we highlighted how salary is still the number one driver for job seekers. Therefore, almost a third of office workers saying that they would  be willing to take a pay cut for more flexibility speaks volumes about the importance of hybrid and remote working. It’s also no secret that flexibility leads to a healthier work/life balance, and 46% of current employees feel that working where and when they want has led them to greater job satisfaction.

Not every organisation shares the same thoughts about the benefits of flexibility however, with many global companies pulling back on their remote work policies such as Disney, Tesla and Amazon. These companies cite better collaboration opportunities, teams being better connected, and more learning opportunities as reasons for new return-to-office policies. Following this, findings in particular organisations have stated that working from home full-time reduces collaboration and a disbelief that any role can be performed completely remote.

Despite many companies backtracking on their flexibility promises, remote working remains permanent in many organisations. GitHub closed their offices completely in cost-cutting measures, with all employees working from home permanently. Companies such as Starbucks, Twitter and KPMG are advocating for hybrid working, with a balance decided between a manager and employee. So, although flexibility is still out there, candidates may have to work harder to find them during their job hunt.

Attracting candidates with flexibility

12.41% of candidates believe having the working arrangement on a job advertisement prompts them to apply, meaning that flexibility and choice are non-negotiables for many professionals. Employers who aren’t willing to budge on flexibility will corner off part of the talent pool and limit their potential candidates. And with reported benefits of less commuting time, more autonomy and increased motivation, why should candidates be expected to sacrifice flexibility in 2023? Employers will benefit from the positives of giving candidates more flexibility, alongside cost-saving and a reduction in absences that will lead to higher revenue intakes.


Click here to view other results from our What Tech Candidates Want 2022 survey, including views on salary and the recruitment process. More Lorien insights are also available to view here.

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