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Empire State Building in New York City (Photo by Lukas Kloeppel from Pexels)

Shot by shot, vaccination efforts to end the pandemic have businesses worldwide poised to begin hiring again.

Once they do, they’ll be able to tap a talent pools like never before, thanks to the global shift to remote work, human-resource experts say.

After the coronavirus crisis hit in 2020, it didn’t take long for employers to see that jobs that could be performed from anywhere would have big advantages. A survey by Mercer released last July reported that 42 percent of organizations said they wanted to increase their work-from-home options to expand their available talent pool. In addition, 58 percent said it would help source, attract and retain a more diverse workforce.

“Organizations that made decisions early on embracing permanent full-time remote work have certainly been able to realize this benefit, but many organizations have proceeded with caution until decisions have been made around what types of roles will continue to remain eligible for full-time remote working in the future,” said Lauren Mason, senior principal and career consultant at Mercer.

“Other organizations are looking to expand their talent pool not necessarily through remote work, but more of a distributed model where they have satellite offices in different geographies,” she added.

Monster.com’s Future of Work 2021: Global Hiring Survey showed that 47 percent of U.S. recruiters have changed their remote flexibility policies since the pandemic hit last year.

“As a result of that shift, Monster is seeing job postings with ‘remote’ in the title continuing to trend upward over the past year — February 2021 was 4 times greater than March 2020, and 1.5 times greater than the last 12-month average — similar to the market as a whole,” Vicki Salemi, a career expert for the job search site, in an interview.

Attracting global candidates with remote jobs is another advantage if the work is location-agnostic.

A March 2021 survey of 209,000 people in 190 countries by Boston Consulting Group showed that while only 50 percent of people said they would move abroad for work, almost 67 percent said they would work remotely. The U.S. topped the list of preferred remote job locations at 25 percent. Australia and Canada ran neck-and-neck at 22 percent, followed by Germany (19 percent) and the U.K. (17 percent).

Generational appeal

Salemi says companies are adopting remote-work policies permanently because top candidates and high-performing employees want it.

“Candidates want to trust that employers will keep them safe and treat them fairly, so a top priority for many candidates is evaluating employer safety protocols and work-from-home policies. With that in mind, many seekers are continuing to search for remote or work-from-home positions,” she added.

Mining Monster’s search keywords show that “remote” remains a top-10 searched keyword and was the top searched work location in February, Salemi says.

“Work from home” spiked in searches at the start of the pandemic and remains in the top-10 most frequently searched keywords. “USA” as a location saw more searches in February than any other.

“As ‘remote’ remains a top [keyword] search  for job seekers, it should also remain top of mind during the interview and negotiation process to ensure what’s being offered will continue once employment begins and that any potential changes to remote flexibility are transparent,” Salemi said.

Another noteworthy trend is that remote work has been an appealing prospect to Millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996) and Generation Z (1997-2012) long before the pandemic hit and has increased since then, says Deloitte Global Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief People and Purpose Officer Michele Parmelee.

“They feel they can be more productive, achieve a better work/life balance and feel less stressed working outside the office,” she said. “In fact, in our 2020 survey, more than 60 percent said that they’d like the option to work remotely more frequently when the pandemic is over.”

Remote work also fits in well with these generations’ values, which include environmental sustainability and increased diversity, Parmelee noted.

“For example, minimizing commutes and business travel reduces an organization’s carbon footprint,” she said. “And from a diversity perspective, flexible work arrangements enable organizations to hire the people with the best experience and skillsets, regardless of their location or work arrangements.”

What are the best practices companies should be employing to make remote work more attractive to candidates?

“Virtual recruiting and onboarding have been a struggle for both employers and candidates, so it’s important that employers focus on making the process as seamless as possible,” Salemi advised. “That starts with the interview process and making an effort to convey the company culture to candidates, through to the onboarding process. Send new hires a welcome packet or host a virtual welcome lunch.”

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