In the wake of Covid-19 we’ve seen a huge shift in the way candidates want to work, with top talent asking for more hybrid working (working between home and the office) opportunities and flexibility. We’re also seeing a change in attitudes towards career paths, progression and what employees want in the future world of work. 

In a recent PageGroup survey, we asked over 2000 employees their opinions on returning to the office and whether the pandemic has had a lasting impact on their attitudes towards work. The results are in, and we have uncovered some interesting insights into how employees feel about their future careers.

The rise of the digital nomad

The Covid-19 pandemic has rewritten the rules governing work, with some employees choosing to ditch the office permanently in favour of remote work. While many are leaving the busy cities to settle in more affordable and spacious locations, a small but growing number are taking this desire for flexibility to the extreme. 
20% of respondents we surveyed said they would like to be able to work from anywhere in the world in their next role. The interest in digital nomadism has spiked during the pandemic and many workers have already begun to move towards fully remote set-ups. Whilst digital nomads were typically envisioned as creative freelance workers in the past, we are now seeing spikes of interest across sectors like finance, IT, and telecoms as well. 

For employees, having the ability to work anywhere in the world unlocks a rare opportunity to both work and travel freely. For employers, this tech-savvy community not only offers a source of affordable digital skills that they might not have had access to before but also brings the benefit of a geographically widened candidate pool. 

Career progression is key 

23% of respondents said they have thought about leaving their current company since the start of the pandemic and that they want a new job in 2021. A further 23% of respondents also said that it was a lack of support during the pandemic that served as a catalyst for this decision. 

The pandemic has given many employees time to think about what they really want in their careers, and candidates are now reconsidering how they want to progress, upskill, or change career paths altogether. As an employer, this is something to be aware of. Are you offering your current employee's learning and development opportunities? Is there enough internal mobility for employees who do want to try something new? Putting these processes in place will make you stand out as an employer of choice, as well as increasing the retention rate of your current workforce.

Entrepreneurial spirit 

There’s been a significant rise in the number of working Brits that are operating their own business on the side since the pandemic started. 16% of our respondents admitted to starting a business or side hustle during the last 18 months, and a further 13% said that they would eventually want to start their own company and become fully self-employed. 

Naturally, you may be wondering what this might mean for your business and the future of your workforce. For example, issues can arise if an employee's side hustle starts encroaching on or affecting their regular work. A conflict of interest could become a real problem. But on the plus side, an employee with diverse enthusiasm could breathe new life into an existing project or department, if you embrace it and give them the opportunity. It may also make your employees less likely to look elsewhere or start out on their own.

Candidates want a better work-life balance 

When asked how the pandemic has impacted their attitudes to work over the past 18 months, 26% of respondents said they would like more time to spend with their family. A further 17% said they want a job that’s closer to their home. When asked about their ideal next job, 21% of respondents said they want to be with a company that offers hybrid working, and a further 20% said they wouldn’t apply to work for a company that doesn’t embrace flexible working in some capacity.

Working from home during the pandemic has allowed many people to enjoy quality time with partners, children, and friends. This is something that people are not going to want to leave behind as the UK moves forward.

Although candidates are still career-driven, there has been a huge shift towards employees wanting a better work/life balance. The key here is to offer your employees more flexibility. Speak to candidates and your current employees to find out what they really want moving forward and how you can best accommodate that in your business.

What next? 

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