Is 2023 the Year of the Great Return?

The Great Resignation took the hiring industry by storm in 2022. Quiet quitting and outlandish sign-on bonuses were micro-hiring trends that bubbled up in response to a massive tech boom. But as time marched forward - and lay-off after lay-off headlined the news - these trends have all but faded away. 

As 2023 shifted seasons, so did its shift to a strong employer’s market and the resulting back-to-office mandates. Apple, Meta, and even our remote favourite Zoom have all mandated employees back-to-office following a hybrid model.

So, is 2023 the year of the Great Return? And if so, how can smaller tech companies leverage their flexibility to capture more desirable hires?

According to a study by Unispace, “51% of workers globally are reluctant to return to the office, and almost half (42%) of firms who mandated returns have experienced higher than normal employee attrition, while 29% are struggling to recruit.”

We’ve seen it ourselves; 50% of companies we surveyed now work in a hybrid model, 40% remain fully remote and 10% are mandating in-office. This is a shake-up from the last two years when not a single tech startup was mandating in-office and almost all roles were location agnostic/remote.

While many employees enjoy and thrive in-office, companies underestimate that imposing strict policies seldom sit well with employees or prospective candidates. According to Unispace, “with the majority (72%) of employers surveyed mandating a return to the workplace, and nearly half (45%) of those on set days”, the data suggests that this step is detrimental to recruitment. 

While this survey covered many industries, not just tech, it proves a compelling point: flexibility is paramount to selling your opportunity. Flexibility around the number of days in-office, which days in-office, ability to work remotely/travel and flexible hours. The list goes on, but what this boils down to is the perception of choice and freedom.

This also signals a chance for smaller tech startups with more limited budgets to step into the ring and woo otherwise unattainable candidates with their scrappy startup flexibility. 

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