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The ‘great remote work mismatch’ is here: Workers are looking for WFH roles that are dwindling before their eyes

November 30, 2022, 8:17 PM UTC
There are fewer remote work opportunities for job seekers looking for flexibility.
Jessie Casson—Getty Images

The push to return to normal has found the spark companies need to kick it into high gear.

We’ve gone through just about every narrative at this point: remote work is dead, it’s here to stay, it is the new normal. Whatever side of the argument you may be on, one thing stands true: Employers are offering fewer and fewer remote work opportunities even as demand for such work remains.

The result: “the great remote work mismatch,” LinkedIn’s head of economics and global labor markets, Rand Ghayad, told The Washington Post. Labor mismatches have typically centered around skills in pre-pandemic times, he explained. Now, he said, “Workers are looking for jobs that offer certain attributes—like the ability to work remotely—that employers aren’t willing to offer.”

As of October, there were two on-site job openings for every one applicant looking for work, according to a recent report written by Ghayad. On the flip side, there were two applicants for every one remote work opening available. That’s because the number of jobs posted on LinkedIn that tout remote work has fallen to just 14% of openings after ballooning since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the report.

That’s a far cry from the more than one-third of private-sector employers that expanded their remote work options during the pandemic, per U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Roughly 60% of those said they expected to keep the policies in place.

The post-pandemic push to return to business as usual, however, has led to increased demand for workers to return to offices, while companies scale back on the flexibility and remote work benefits employees not only enjoyed, but imposed on leaders.

But now the clamps are tightening. Business leaders no longer feel the pressure to offer remote work if their idea of a productive, well-run workforce is instead fully in-office, five days a week. Employers see themselves now as holding the cards; there’s a belief that looming layoffs amid a sliding economy means workers will be more desperate for work and forgo the demands they made during the pandemic when they held the winning hand.

The job market as a whole appears to be tightening—the Great Resignation has morphed into a Great Remorse. A recent Harris Poll surveying more than 2,000 U.S. job seekers found over 70% of them said it has been harder than they’d hoped to lock down a good role. And a July report from Joblist found that a quarter of workers who quit during the pandemic have come to regret it

Some of the novelty of remote work has seemingly worn off for workers, especially if they’re simply trying to find work. However, a lasting lesson from the pandemic is the value workers continue place on having the flexibility to work from virtually anywhere. Dan Kaplan, senior client partner at global consulting and headhunting firm Korn Ferry, previously told Fortune that people simply aren’t going to go back to working like before.

Not to mention, Ghayad points out in the report, the advent of remote work has provided more opportunities for diverse candidates and workers with disabilities.

“While the current hiring declines cloud the near-term economic outlook, both factors bode well for the longer-term prospects of helping create economic opportunity for those who face significant barriers navigating the job market,” Ghayad wrote in the report. “As we face ongoing uncertainty and a possible downturn, we are at risk of going backwards and a retrenchment from progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace—remote work can be a powerful way to attract, support, and retain great talent from all backgrounds.”

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