Work-from-home trend in UK may have peaked, LinkedIn survey finds

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Remote working may have peaked in the UK as a loosening labor market hands power back to employers, according to research by LinkedIn.

In September, 12 percent of UK jobs advertised on the site were remote, compared with 16 percent in January, as “paranoid employers worry about the productivity of working from home,” said Josh Graff, the managing director of LinkedIn for EMEA and Latin America.

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The company also found that three out of four bosses in the UK are concerned that the current economic slowdown means they will have to go back on flexible working, in a global survey of around 3,000 C-suite executives at large organizations.

The power is “shifting back to employers as hiring slows down,” Graff told Bloomberg Radio. “It’s certainly a tight labor market, but it is starting to loosen, and economic uncertainty is beginning to threaten the pandemic progress that we saw over the last couple of years.”

Despite the falling percentage of remote and hybrid work being advertised, it is still popular with candidates, said Graff. He noted that although just 12 percent of jobs advertised were remote, they got 20 percent of all applications. Graff described this as a “growing disconnect between what professionals want and what employers are offering.”

Some companies are already curtailing flexible work for existing employees, with Bank of America Corp. telling its global markets employees that they can only work from home for two days a month.

Graff added that staff and bosses also disagree about the efficacy of working from home, with “paranoia about the amount getting done.” Microsoft Corp. research found that 80 percent of managers felt their teams were less productive when they were not in the office. About 85 percent of managers worry they can’t tell if employees are getting enough done, while 87 percent of workers say their productivity is just fine, Microsoft found.

The UK labor market is still running hot with the 3.5 percent unemployment rate the lowest since 1974, according to the Office for National Statistics. However, Graff said the hiring rate on LinkedIn fell by 10 percent in the UK in September from a year earlier, in a sign of slowdown.

Graff cautioned that returning to “command and control structures might not be good for businesses,” as they risk losing “motivated employees at a moment when they need them most.”

“While difficult decisions undoubtedly have to be taken, it’s important to remember that your employees are your company’s most precious asset,” he said. “They have experience of your systems, your processes. They’re aligned with your culture and values and importantly they are the ones that hold deep customer relationships as well.”

Read more: UK financial sector urges caution over any ‘work from home’ legislation

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