Are employers forcing a return to the office?

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the way people work has changed in a variety of ways, with working from home (WFH) becoming a mainstay in the UK to stop the spread of the disease. Are employers starting to force a return to the office, or is WFH here to stay?

Earlier this year, Deutsche Bank toughened their work-from-home rules, forcing managers into the office at least 4 days a week, and all other staff to come in 3 days a week. Remote work on a Monday, following from remote work on a Friday has also been banned to remove the opportunity of a remote ‘long weekend’. 

Deutsche Bank aren't the only company tightening their WFH policy, with Goldman Sachs and Tesla not allowing employees a fully flexible remote work schedule. Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, ordered staff to return the office in June 2022, declaring that working remotely is no longer acceptable. 

Not all companies are moving away from remote work however, with multiple companies such as Microsoft, Slack, Spotify, and more still offering remote work job roles. 

Employers Turn Against WFH Candidates 

According to the SME employment sentiment UK survey carried out by HR software company Employment Hero in December, one in five SMEs (22%) would be less likely to hire a candidate if during an interview they requested to work from home at least two days per week. 

The survey also revealed that 7% would decline to hire a candidate requesting to work remotely for at least two days, indicating that hybrid working is losing popularity with some employers. 

However, 49% would be equally likely to hire a candidate who requested to work from home part of the week, while 11% said they would be more inclined to offer them a role. 

In response to this recent survey, Joanne Werker, senior spokesperson at Boostworks says “The reality of the situation is that employers should expect this question to come up in an interview these days. It’s a defacto ask from candidates and for employers to resist engaging in a dialogue about this, could severely limit their access to the talent pool. I’d caution employers not to shy away from it. 

Flexible working is just one of the growing questions of importance that comes up in interviews these days. Candidates today are keen to find out more about the rewards and benefits packages on offer, as they look for a more inclusive and satisfying work environment that supports their needs. In fact, our brand new research due for launch later this month, is set to reveal that 63% of employees are attracted to their current job due to the company's reward, recognition, and benefits programmes. 

It’s a candidates world these days!” 

While some businesses are starting to turn their back on remote work, there is still the potential for employees to be flexible to work from home in the right role. 

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Impact of the UK Skills Shortage on Remote Work Opportunities 

The current UK skills shortage is influencing the job market in various ways, including the availability of remote work opportunities. As employers struggle to find qualified candidates, they may become more flexible in their working arrangements to attract and retain talent. This shortage presents a unique advantage for workers seeking remote or hybrid positions. 

Increased Negotiation Power 

With fewer skilled candidates available, job seekers can leverage the skills shortage to negotiate more favourable working conditions, including the option to work from home. Employers desperate to fill critical roles might be more willing to accommodate remote work requests to secure the expertise they need. 

Expansion of Remote-Friendly Roles 

In response to the skills shortage, companies may expand the range of roles that can be performed remotely. By offering remote work options, employers can tap into a wider talent pool, including individuals who may not be able to relocate or commute daily. This trend could lead to an increase in remote job listings, providing more opportunities for job seekers to find positions that allow them to work from home. 


While some businesses are turning their backs on remote work, there is still potential for employees to negotiate flexible work-from-home arrangements, especially due to the ongoing UK skills shortage. The future of work may very well continue to be shaped by these competing forces, with flexibility remaining a key consideration for both employers and job seekers. 

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