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The issue with remote working that no one is talking about

Posted by Tom Naughton on 07/09/2021

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Everything seems to be improving in the post-covid world. Trains are certainly busier in September than they have been in a while and we’ve noticed a significant upturn in vacancies. September-December has historically always seen an upturn in vacancies but in this current market with a year and a half of austerity, more companies are looking to recruit than ever.

However, with all the positivity in the jobs market, there is a growing trend that might cause issues in the long run; remote working. I still remember the mad panic in PC World trying to buy a laptop in the hours leading up to the announcement in March 2020 that would see a significant amount of the UK workforce move to remote working overnight through necessity rather than choice. While it was absolutely necessary to slow down the virus, it was completely uncharted territory for a lot of companies with some of the clients I’m speaking to having still not returned to the office in any capacity almost a year and a half later. 

With a large proportion of the UK workforce working remotely, companies had to shift to remote onboarding to get new starters into the business. Video interviewing became the norm and a few of the candidates that I placed during the lockdown still, to this day, haven’t seen their office space or met their colleagues face to face. 

On the positive side, this opened up job opportunities to candidates across the UK. Local skills shortages could now be covered in London by candidates working remotely in Scotland. It opened up opportunities that wouldn’t have previously been possible. For companies recruiting, this meant that they could engage candidates at lower salaries as their cost of living was significantly lower in more rural areas as opposed to London. I saw individual jobs from public services and nationwide companies being advertised in multiple locations at once with only 1 candidate being successful. However, throughout the various lockdowns, companies didn’t stop there. Many chose to offshore certain parts of their administrative function. Transactional finance teams were moved abroad for a fraction of the cost to keep them in the UK. If you’re going to work remotely, why not find a significant cost saving? 

Whilst the pandemic caused companies to slash their cost base in order to continue operations (a sensible fiscal decision), offshoring a finance function is a long term move. Although flexibility around working hours and location has led to higher productivity and, as someone who had their first child during the first lockdown, I saw myself working around changing nappies and nap times earlier in the morning and later into the evening, there is a daunting reality to a lot of UK workers. If my role can be done remotely, why would my company pay my salary when my role can be done from anywhere in the world at a fraction of the price?

The worrying trend that I’m seeing is that UK based transactional finance teams like Accounts Payable, Credit Control and even Payroll, are moving abroad in some if not full capacity. Whilst technology has done a fantastic job in allowing us to work successfully remotely bringing together nationwide and global teams with ease while it was necessary, it could be a negative factor in the UK jobs market with more jobs being made remote and ultimately, being recruited internationally.

If you have any worries about this, if you want to have a confidential conversation about your role or if you want to recruit at the moment, please do get in touch at tom.naughton@savantrecruitment.com.

 
 
 

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