The Job Market for Remote Workers Is Shrinking
Remote job opportunities are dwindling as fewer employers feel the need to lure talent with the promise of working from home
Many prospective workers who were determined to get a remote job just a few months ago are hitting a wall as remote listings rapidly dwindle.
After remote work surged during the pandemic, fewer employers now feel the need to lure talent with the promise of working from home. Remote jobs made up 13.2% of postings advertised on LinkedIn last month—down from 20.6% in March. Other job sites such as Indeed.com and ZipRecruiter also report declines in remote listings.
Demand for these jobs remains high. Remote jobs attracted a majority, or 52.8%, of all applications submitted on LinkedIn, slightly higher than a year before.
The decline in remote listings marks the latest shift in the power dynamic between employers and employees. Companies are showing they can be choosier in their recruiting after months of scrambling for new talent. Hiring and wage growth have slowed from the red-hot pace of much of 2022. And while many laid-off workers in tech and elsewhere are finding employment again, it is taking, on average, longer to secure a new job than it did last spring.
This has some workers recalibrating their conditions for considering a new job.
Brett Burger, 29 years old, worked from home full-time as a public-relations specialist for Sleep Number Corp. until he was laid off from the Minneapolis-based bed manufacturer this month.
Now, he says, he is finding far fewer job postings clearly stating they are remote than when he was job-hunting in 2020. He discovered he was more productive and better able to manage his depression and anxiety while working from home these past couple of years, he says.
Though he would take a job that required part-time work in an office, “I would only consider it if it was one to two days max,” he says.
Brenda Arce, a branch director in the Miami office of professional staffing company Robert Half, says the mismatch between available remote jobs and remote job seekers is adding to the difficulty in filling some office-based jobs.
“Candidates still have a lot of options,” she says. So, “if it’s not remote or doesn’t offer any type of flexibility, candidates will not even interview or take it.”
Altogether, fewer people are working remotely than would like to, according to Gallup. In a late 2022 survey of about 8,700 U.S. employees in jobs that could be done remotely, 26% said they worked remotely exclusively, down from 39% in February. A smaller share, 22%, expected to have the option in the future.
Yet a third of all workers told Gallup they would prefer full-time remote work. Companies such Walt Disney Co. and Starbucks Corp., meanwhile, are stepping up the days that hybrid employees are required to come into the office.
Ally Financial Inc., based in Detroit, stepped up its return-to-office policy in September, shifting from asking workers to come in at least part-time to expecting it. How many days depends on the job and department.
“It was, hey, the expectation is people are coming back to the office, and we want consistency,” says Kathie Patterson, Ally’s chief human resources officer.
While expected office time may limit the pool of candidates applying for some roles, it hasn’t affected retention, she says.
A study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research this week suggests both employers and workers have benefitted from some aspects of remote work. In a survey of full-time employees in 27 countries, workers in the U.S. said they saved an average 55 minutes in commute time on days they worked from home during the pandemic. Worldwide, workers reclaimed a daily average of 72 minutes. About 40% of the saved commute time was plowed into more time on the job, researchers found.
ZipRecruiter chief economist Julia Pollak said the decline in the share of remote job postings reflects, in part, slower hiring in industries where remote work has been most prevalent, such as the tech industry. Nearly 40% of tech-related job postings on LinkedIn this month were for remote positions, though many big tech companies have conducted layoffs or slowed or frozen hiring.
Yue Xu, who is in her 30s, says she is looking for a remote or hybrid position after being laid off from her software engineer job—a hybrid position—at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. this month. But the recruiters and human resources officials she has spoken with have said her chances of finding something fully remote are slim. With only a few months left before her H1B visa expires, she may have to compromise, she says.
“I won’t refuse one that requires me to be in five days a week even though it’s not the perfect idea,” she says.
Sam Henry, founder of Seattle Corporate Search, a Seattle-based recruiting firm, said he is advising candidates looking for remote jobs to be flexible since more companies are requiring employees to come in anywhere between two and four days a week. If a job stipulates in-office work most or all of the time, he recommends negotiating for work-from-home days.
“If a company is saying, ‘Hey, we want you in here five days a week,’ just say, ‘OK, well, I’m not asking for more money, but I am asking for Fridays’ ” at home, he says.