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Are your star new recruits reluctant to be office based?

You’ve attracted highly talented, motivated candidates for an exciting key role, which promises to hugely boost their insurance or financial services career. But there’s a stumbling block: the entirely office-based nature of the vacancy is putting them off.

Right now, this is a recruitment red hot potato. Fewer than one in ten employees want to return to the office full time even though COVID-19 restrictions are easing, according to a Strathclyde Business School survey. 78% of 3000 workers surveyed prefer to work in the office for two days or less. 31% prefer not to spend any time in the office at all.

It’s not hard to see why. Many office-based workers have been thrilled to shed their draining and time-wasting commute. Others are happy not to have endure the unholy trinity of unpleasant colleagues, the distracting open plan environment and the unwelcome but pervasive stench of a colleague’s microwaved shepherd’s pie or tikka masala. Vast numbers of employees have discovered that working from home means increased productivity, flexibility and greater quality of life.

We are seeing increasing numbers of candidates actively searching for roles offering flexible working from home rather than full-time in an office. So where does this leave you, if you absolutely need your employees to be wholly office-based?

Before answering that, take a moment to consider the advantages to offering a more flexible approach to working location. For a start, you are broadening the potential pool of talent open to you by including candidates who are precluded from office-based work either through geography or family commitments. If you can offer some flexibility, then you are widening your choice of recruits with valuable skills, experience or insight.

Secondly, by using time freed-up from not having to commute, you can encourage new recruits to upskill faster (or focus on other forms of professional development) which will boost your business.

If a compromise on location is absolutely impossible, then it might you to understand the reason(s) for a candidate’s reluctance (or refusal) to work in an office. By uncovering the barriers, you can then identify effective solutions for overcoming them:

  • Did the location change during the recruitment process? This happened with some of the vacancies we filled towards the end of the second lockdown period: roles that were remote at the outset of the process changed to fully or partly office-based by the time the recruit was onboarding.
  • Does the candidate have personal health issues or carer responsibilities which preclude them from office-based working full time? For example, they may be responsible for someone with low immunity or have children who are regularly sent home due to contaminated class bubbles.
  • Are they concerned about risks to their health or that insufficient measures have been taken by you to protect their health? As lockdown eased, 57% of employees were worried about the health risks of returning to work. More concerningly for you: 31% felt employers were not doing enough to safeguard their health.

(That final issue is one of the most complex health and safety challenges your company may ever face. Your human resources function is now required to undertake risk assessments, draw up guidelines, coordinate with your facilities teams and deal with a vast range of employees’ personal circumstances, fears and concerns.)

One of the best ways in overcoming these particular barriers is through practising strong communication. Clients who are managing this well are those who are prioritising building engagement and trust with new hires. They are succeeding in finding workable solutions and their recruits are more willing to concede to an office-based role.

In some cases, the refusal to work wholly in an office environment is driven by your candidate’s commitment to a lifestyle choice. Maybe they find themselves more productive or they value their quality of life when working from home. Your options here are threefold:

  • Accommodate the candidate.
  • Find a compromise.
  • Withdraw the offer.

Whatever the outcome, you have a final challenge ahead: seamlessly incorporating new candidates into your team while government restrictions are still in place. Luckily, we have several strategies which will help you do this:

  • Empower colleagues to reach out to new employees and schedule 1:1 meetings for newcomers with their key stakeholders, assisting them to build solid social connections.
  • Use a team-building platform on which everyone can see profiles of each another, showcase their characteristics allowing your employees to connect on values, work preferences, as well as skills.
  • Encourage weekly Zoom team get-togethers, using them to give shout-outs to colleagues, talk about the future and brainstorm shared issues. This allows newcomers to discover what motivates their colleagues and why.

After many months of working remotely, we’ve all learned how to keep productivity healthy whilst retaining (or strengthening) team or company bonds and morale. We also understand better how to make genuine connections with new colleagues despite not having the chance to encounter them in a corridor or by the water fountain. And you are best placed to know what working practices are most effective to the success of your company.

If you are looking for new talent, we will help you find highly motivated candidates that are the best fit and have stellar experience – whether you need them in your office or working from home.

If you have a recruitment campaign coming up and want to find outstanding, motivated candidates, call our friendly and experienced team today on 01483 668700 (London and the South), 0121 752 8990 (Midlands and the North) or email us at

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