Remote work job listings are soaring. By February 2022, they accounted for more than half of all employment postings on LinkedIn, a first for the professional network site. In the UK, searches for jobs that allow working from home soared more than 790% over the last two years, prompting a warning there may be more people looking for such roles than there are positions available.

“The key takeaway here is that the supply of, and employees’ demand for, remote jobs have both grown rapidly over the past two years, but demand has grown faster,” said Mary Kate Fields, data communications manager at LinkedIn. Candidates increasingly want the flexibility that comes with remote working arrangements, and more businesses are pivoting to hybrid or digital-only models to save the costs of owning and running office space.

The tight labour market means potential recruits have more power when it comes to getting what they want, but there are consequences for jobseekers in that some perceived advantages such as being able to work from home may be offset elsewhere. Clear communication and defined expectations from the outset are essential to avoid surprises down the road.

“Organisations that have articulated more specific policies and approaches for the future workplace have seen employee well-being and productivity rise,” said Aaron De Smet senior partner at McKinsey & Co.

 

Finding remote work

If it’s been a while since you were last searching for a new job, things have moved very quickly in a short space of time. Remote jobs require a different mindset to on-site or in-office positions, and this attitude begins at the search stage, where you will soon find the days of attending interviews in person for many sectors are over.

Businesses operated by distanced teams rely on different skills, such as the ability to be productive without in-person supervision, or knowledge of the kinds of software used to facilitate remote work.

Meetings may not be held in person, but all other expectations regarding professionalism such as punctuality will be, so it’s important to know your way around the likes of Zoom, Teams, Hangouts and other video conferencing tools. It’s likely that interviews will be conducted remotely, so it pays to be comfortable with the software beforehand.

 

Starting your new job remotely

Starting a new job is tough enough. It can be even more daunting when connections and bonds with new colleagues can only be formed via a screen. Whether it is your first time clocking in as a remote employee, or you’re more experienced at working from home, there are several steps you can take to start as smoothly as possible.

  • Making your office, or wherever you intend to work, a suitable environment is an important factor when starting a remote job.
  • It’s also important to set boundaries with friends and family to ensure they do not intrude on your virtual professional environment, as they would not do so in your physical workspace.
  • You’ll need to be an excellent self-manager to be a remote worker, so plan ahead, set priorities, stick to schedule, and track your productivity.
  • Ensure you have clear instructions, usernames and passwords to log onto new systems.
  • You may even have a new computer or other equipment leased by the company, and prior knowledge of how everything works can help you hit the ground running.
  • Remember to have an appropriate cut-off time: working from home doesn’t mean letting work dominate your home life.

 

The changing world of work

Remote working isn’t for everyone. It’s not for every business, either. Some employers have reported that lower office occupancy has had a negative impact on knowledge transfer from experienced to junior staff. Others believe on-the-job learning has been stunted, and internal relationships are not as strong.

Organisational culture is more under focus than it has been in the past. A positive workplace culture is increasingly seen as a driver of success, and a poor one as a cause of dysfunction – so employers advertising for remote work want people who can adapt quickly to, and even enhance, their environment, even if that environment is predominantly digital.

As a result, businesses value candidates who bring positive energy, proactively find new ways of learning, solve problems, and cut across silos while not in the same room as their colleagues.