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How your firm’s telecommuting policies affect your recruiting strategy

If you’re rethinking your firm’s telecommuting policies, hold on. There is a trend among some larger companies of bringing remote workers back into corporate offices, but candidates still expect work from home options, says new data from the MRINetwork 2017 Recruiter Sentiment Study. And while your intent may be to increase collaboration, creativity, mentoring, and innovation, this move may alienate top talent in a market that is already experiencing shortages.

The refocus on in-office work environments comes at a time when many candidates demand work from home options during the interview process. According to the study, which polled 265 MRINetwork executive recruiters worldwide, along with 100 employers and 263 candidates across the U.S., 68 percent of recruiters and 53 percent of employers state candidates expect to work remotely somewhat often to very often. Over half of surveyed candidates say that having a work from home option is somewhat to extremely important as they consider a new job.

“The U.S. unemployment rate is 2.8 percent within the executive, managerial and professional sector, so companies that fail to provide work from home options are definitely missing out on key talent,” observes an MRINetwork recruiter that participated in the survey. “In-demand candidates have choices. The more specific or rare their skill set is, their options increase, especially if they work in a field where competition for candidates is fierce. If they don’t want to relocate or work five-day weeks in an office environment, they may turn down a solid offer if they can’t work remotely.”

Technology has made communication, collaboration, security, and other aspects of integrating remote employees easier, allowing companies to implement this strategy to attract and retain top talent. As one MRINetwork recruiter notes, “Providing people with the opportunity to work remotely—whether full-time or a few days a week—allows you to access a larger talent pool, while offering flexibility to those who don’t want a long commute, or simply just need to be more accessible to their families.” Delivering this type of work-life balance is invaluable as a retention strategy, because employees may hesitate to take a job with another company if they don’t have the ability to work remotely.”

Simply corralling people back into the office doesn’t necessarily ensure collaboration. “The work environment and culture have to support and encourage working together, sharing ideas and rewarding innovative thinking,” says Nancy Halverson, general manager for MRINetwork.

Companies must formulate a well thought out plan to successfully implement a work from home program. “This necessitates drawing up formal guidelines and finding the right technological tools, as well as hiring people that can thrive in a remote working environment,” says Halverson. “Once in place, the program requires oversight and tweaking to make it sustainable and successful. Ultimately, to gain the full benefits you have to make sure remote workers are fully engaged and feel just as much a part of the team as your in-office staff.”

“The ability to work from home is here to stay,” concludes Halverson. “Collaboration and innovation are vitally important, but technology is continually advancing, empowering remote workers to be indispensable contributors to their in-office teams. Ultimately smart employers will find their workforce is stronger and more effective when it creates an environment generating productivity from both work from home and in office workers.”

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