University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business
Trying to find a new job where you can work from home? The pandemic prompted many job-seekers to look for remote or hybrid work, but how do you know whether the job you’re applying for now will stay remote in the coming years?
Some of the biggest clues can come from a company’s competitors.
In my latest research — co-authored with Smith PhD student Jingwen Yang, Charles Ham of Indiana University, and Wenfeng Wang of City University of Hong Kong — we looked at work-from-home job postings and found employers are more likely to offer remote work when more of their peers already do so.
Many people like the option to work from home. According to research, some employees are even willing to accept lower wages in exchange for workplace flexibility. Several employers such as Airbnb noted their career pages receive considerably more views when a job description includes the flexibility to work from home.
Even CEOs who are reluctant to offer work-from-home flexibility may be forced to if many of their competitors do. If not, they risk losing employees to those competitors or facing strong headwinds when attracting new talent.
The risk is even more real in a tight labor market, but if the economy enters a recession and the job market cools, bargaining power could shift back to employers. Companies that prefer a return-to-office policy might choose to stand their ground instead of caving into pressure to offer remote work flexibility.
Here’s how to evaluate job opportunities for their long-term work-from-home potential —and how to ease a reluctant employer’s concerns if you do land a work-from-home position.
Look at what the company’s peers are doing. Take note of competitors and the industry landscape. Some firms continue to embrace remote work (e.g., Airbnb, Amazon, Citigroup, and Facebook), while others prefer a return-to-office policy (e.g., Apple, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Tesla). Our research finds that employers are more likely to offer remote positions when they face greater competition from peers, especially in areas where employee demand for remote work is stronger. If many employers are offering remote work in the industry where you’re seeking a job, you can feel more confident the one you want will stay that way. But if most of the companies in that industry have called workers back into the office, there’s a risk that even jobs advertised as remote now could return to in-person in the future.
Keep an eye on the economy. If the economy enters a recession and labor markets loosen, the bargaining power may return to the side of employers. Companies that reluctantly adopted work-from-home policies may reverse those even if their peers continue to offer remote work.
Be ready to compromise. The future of work-from-home is unknown — I don’t think we will go back to where we were before the pandemic, but I also don’t think we’ll go all the way to 100% remote work either. That could mean being ready to accept a hybrid work situation.
Show your worth — even remotely. Some businesses worry that work-from-home has a negative effect on productivity. And employers are concerned that face-to-face communication and interaction are essential for teamwork, innovation, knowledge-sharing and forming a strong corporate culture. Because of those concerns, employees who work from home may have to make an extra effort to demonstrate their value to the firm.
Make an effort to stay connected. Face time with your boss and other colleagues still matters, especially when you’re new to a company. Some young workers worry remote work will affect their career growth. Even if you’re not in the office, make an effort to connect in person on occasion with your manager and co-workers.
Rebecca Hann is the assistant dean of Doctoral Programs and Dean’s Professor of Accounting at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. Read more about this research: Going Remote? The Role of Labor Market Competition.
Story Credit: usatoday.com