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15 December 2021

How interested are jobseekers in flexible working?

By Freja Nilsson
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The corporate website is one of the most important communication channels for employer branding. Yet, many European companies miss to include their approach to remote working – something which jobseekers find increasingly important.

As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, flexible working has become the new normal for many people around the world, and many jobseekers expect their employer to offer remote working possibilities. In this year's Webranking edition, we've seen a large discrepancy between the information which jobseekers expect to find about flexible working and the information companies actually provide about it.

Statistics from the European Commission show that 20% of Europeans sometimes or usually worked from home in 2020. Remote working is the most common in Luxembourg (47.5 %), the Netherlands (40.1 %), and Finland (39.2 %). In Sweden, statistics show that the number of people working from home peaked in the period January to May 2021, when more than 40% of employees worked from home. Many have aslo continued doing so even after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted. This compares to data showing that only 15% of European workers had ever worked remotely before the pandemic.

There's no doubt that flexible working is here to stay and that more and more jobseekers expect to have the possibility to work remotely, either full-time or part-time. This could mean working from another city or even country, not needing to be physically present at all. Employees have become adjusted to the benefits of flexible working, such as having a better work-life balance as a result of greater freedom to manage their working hours.

96% of jobseekers find information about remote working important

Since flexible working is something that jobseekers have started to expect, it's of high importance that a company shows that it's something they offer their employees. When we asked jobseekers in our yearly Career survey, we found that as many as 96% find it important to some degree that a company includes their approach to remote working on their Careers pages. Slightly more than half of the jobseekers (53%) find it very important (5 on a scale 1-5) or important (4 on a scale 1-5).

When looking at to what groups flexible working matters the most, we see that it's equally important for young professionals and for mid-career employees. It's significantly less important to senior employees and inexperienced employees. This could be due to generational differences, or to young professionals and mid-career employees possibly being more used to working remotely. Flexible working is the least important to people who are unemployed.

It's also becoming increasingly common for jobseekers to decline job offers from companies that are not prepared to offer flexible working. Some companies, such as Spotify, have even decided to launch employer branding campaigns on the theme of flexible working and in this way position themselves as attractive employers. Earlier this year, Spotify launched the Work from anywhere initiative where they stated that their employees now have full freedom to choose where they work and do not need to work from the office, ever. There are also job searching sites such as FlexJobs dedicated to helping jobseekers find flexible job opportunities.

Only 18% of European companies include their approach to remote working

In this year's Webranking edition, we decided to investigate how well the ranked European companies live up to jobseeker expectations when it comes to offering information about their approach to remote working. Having found that only 18% of the ranked companies include information about the possibilities for remote working on their corporate websites, our results leave some room for concern. When looking at the 20 largest companies ranked on the Europe 500 list (based on market capitalisation), however, the result is better: 35% of the companies include this information. German companies stand out in this group, with as many as 50% of the companies including their approach to remote/flexible working.

Deutsche Telekom are a German company that include a dedicated Work-Life section containing a lot of information. The flexible working section clearly explains Deutsche Telekom's many flexible working options. Deutsche Telekom even have a return-from-part time guarantee which gives their employees the possibility to take time off or work fewer hours and then return to working full-time whenever they like. 

Russia, Belgium, and Finland are countries where the companies especially need to improve the information, and most other European countries are below the European average of 35%. Many are also below 30%, such as Norway, The Netherlands, and Sweden where only 15% of the ranked companies include information about flexible working. There is clearly a quite large discrepancy between jobseeker expectations and what information the companies provide when it comes to informing about their approach to remote working. Some companies probably offer flexible working options without informing about this on their corporate websites and are therefore missing out on potential jobseekers.

How to better meet jobseeker expectations

Our recommendation is that all companies should include their view on flexible working and work-life balance since it's something that jobseekers expect to find and it is widely discussed in society on a higher level as well. For example, there is a discussion about the Great resignation, especially in the U.S where many mid-career employees have chosen to resign since the pandemic. From now on, it will not only be a problem for companies to attract employees, but to keep them as well. That's why it's time for companies to work on positioning themselves and their employer brand. A good place to start is on your corporate website. After all, this is the most trusted company communication channel.