CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — It was only two years ago that many people got used to the idea of working from home.
When workers left their offices as the pandemic hit, many didn’t realize the modern workforce would in many ways, be forever changed.
As companies make challenging decisions about the future of their workplace moving forward, one recruiter tells us the hardest openings to fill, are those without the opportunity to work remotely.
As president of Career Link Network, a nationwide recruiting firm based in Chattanooga, David Adams says it's a hard time for many companies hiring.
"Right now one of the biggest problems, getting people that will show up in an office. They simply prefer to work from home," he told us Monday.
Adams says it's mainly workers under age 35 in fields like marketing, accounting, purchasing and product management he sees avoiding in-person work more often.
"This is definitely new. I have never had a situation where I would have candidates refuse to interview because the opportunity required going into a facility," said Adams, who has over 30 years of recruiting experience.
While working from home can help people minimize fuel and wardrobe costs, Adams is concerned the trend could be detrimental to many workers long-term, making it harder to get raises or promotions.
"If they don't know you, and they can't see you, it's unlikely you're going to advance as rapidly as those who are present," said Adams. "There's not much of a career pathway working from your dining room table."
Natalie Nelson works in global merchandising for a major athletics company. She's based in New York City, but is currently visiting her mom in Tennessee and working remotely.
"On March 10, we got the conversation of we're shutting down the offices, and have not been back since," she told us Monday, explaining her company's decision as the pandemic hit.
Before this, Nelson only ever worked in-person. But now that she's gotten a taste of being remote, she says she likes it.
"The biggest [thing] is just flexibility of my time, and structuring how I work, and when I work," she said. "Wherever there's Wi-Fi, I can work."
Nelson says the pandemic made her pause and re-think priorities, like wanting to spend more time with family.
"If I could spend, I would say, 99% of the time as remote and keep that flexibility and then go in as needed, that would be my ideal," she said. "I think companies are becoming more flexible because they understand that people have re-shifted the way they think and the things that they want to make important."
For tech and related fields, recruiter David Adams thinks the remote trend may remain long-term. But he thinks it will be more short-lived for other industries.
Management consulting company Robert Half recently found 50% of employees working from home would look for a new job if their company required them to go back to the office full time.
Their 2021 study found 71% of senior managers surveyed would prefer to have their team fully in the office when pandemic-related restrictions ease. 16% of them said they would prefer a hybrid model.
In the same study in 2022, 66% of senior managers preferred the office, with 18% preferring a hybrid.
A new survey of 200 senior executives released by the company Vyopta says 96% of executives agree that primarily remote workers are disadvantaged compared to those who work primarily in the office.