The pendulum swing of who has power in the current labor market — workers quitting for better jobs versus employers conducting mass layoffs — is still in flux. But there's one indication that things are tilting back toward worker flexibility: an uptick in remote and hybrid jobs.
All industries are offering more remote or hybrid roles month-over-month, according to ManpowerGroup data. In the tech sector, 34% of open roles in May allowed for remote or hybrid flexibility — by June, that share reached 40%.
Other sectors seeing big jumps in remote flexibility include finance, accounting and insurance jobs, where 36% of open roles say candidates will work remotely at least some of the time, and human resources, with 31% of all openings citing a remote or hybrid arrangement.
Overall, interest in remote and hybrid work remains strong even as fewer companies offer it. Nationally, just 11% of open jobs on LinkedIn are remote, but they attract close to 50% of total job applications as of May.
A new boost in worker flexibility could be due to lingering "pandemic paranoia" in hiring, says Becky Frankiewicz, president and chief commercial officer of ManpowerGroup. Despite a handful of high-profile layoffs in recent months, many employers say it's still hard to hire in a post-pandemic economy, and so businesses are doing their best to hold onto their existing employees.
Businesses have raised wages in order to attract newcomers, though wage growth has slowed this year as companies contend with a potential economic downturn. In response, Frankiewicz says companies are relying on the promise of flexibility that workers came to expect in recent years, which costs less but still has a big impact.
"Workers have benefited" and have more than just additional leverage in the moment, she says: "Leverage is temporary. This is a new structural relationship between the employer and employee, where workers realize their value and that they're essential."
Take the continuous battle in return-to-office requirements. Bosses in a hiring bind may have a "desire to have people in-person, but a requirement to be flexible," Frankiewicz says.
She adds that more workers may be asking for remote accommodations during the summer so they can travel, and that flexibility may level out again by fall. "But we're not going to zero where there's no remote working," she says.
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