Remote workers are less likely to be fired

Remote workers enjoy better job security, signalling a potential solution to the ongoing business trend of mass layoffs.

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.
Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

Flexible working could save your job this year. Exclusive data from Startups reveals that companies clinging to a fully in-office culture were twice as likely to have laid off staff in the past 12 months, compared to remote and hybrid-friendly counterparts.

Startups surveyed a representative sample of 546 UK businesses towards the end of 2023. The results show that 38% of fully in-office firms made job cuts last year, compared to 16% of remote teams.

Flexible work options are already among the most important employee benefits for those on the hunt for new jobs. Now, it seems there’s an additional job security incentive for seeking a hybrid or fully remote role this year.

Remote teams liberated from layoffs

Mass redundancies dominated last year’s headlines as employers like Meta, Google, and X (formerly Twitter) sought to save money.

This trend isn't fading in 2024. The New Year has already seen tech giants like Amazon and Google announcing layoffs, underscoring the need for change.

Startups' research pinpoints working from home (WFH) as the most cost-effective shield against layoffs. Shrinking or ditching office space means companies can save on one of their highest expenses while maintaining a stable workforce.

Even switching to a partly-remote model was found to have a positive impact. Hybrid firms, where employees were required to go into the office for two or three days per week, also showed an improvement on fully in-office counterparts with a layoff rate of 30%.

Richard Parris, Managing Editor of Startups.co.uk, comments: “It’s cold, it’s grey, and it takes you an hour to get there each morning. But, there’s yet another reason to resent your office as we begin 2024: it could cost you your job.

“Our research found that businesses allowing employees to work fully remote roles or hybrid setups have less risk of laying off staff, compared to those with a fully in-office culture.”

WFH better for mental health

Recent discussions on mandatory in-office policies have highlighted concerns about their impact on employees' mental well-being.

Last week, WebMD’s parent company elicited groans with its cringeworthy, ‘back-to-the-office’ video. Google's forced return to desk life has also fueled employee dissent.

Staff who refuse to give up work from home privileges have pointed to the improved work-life balance and mental well-being they achieve as a result. After years of debate, it seems their arguments are finally resonating with decision-makers.

This improvement to mental health doesn’t just extend to staff, but also to those running companies, too. The Startups survey also shows that 11% of business leaders in full-time office-based roles report lower mental well-being compared to those running remote or hybrid-working businesses.

Flexible working to explode in 2024

With even the C-Suite now experiencing the benefits of flexible working, 2024 could be the year the debate around remote versus office working is finally won.

In our survey, 66% of business leaders told Startups they intend to improve their flexible work options this year.

This includes 12% saying they were considering introducing a four-day work week, and 14% who aim to increase the number of days staff can work remotely.

Conversely, and in good news for employees, just 6% of employers said they intended to increase the number of days their staff were expected to attend the office in 2024.

Remote work could win the talent war

With job security concerns rising, the Startups survey suggests that companies offering remote or hybrid work models could be at an advantage when it comes to hiring right.

The findings are particularly relevant to employers because the survey also found that 80% of respondents are actively seeking to increase their staff over the next year.

Remote work could be the secret recruitment weapon for HR teams. It aligns with recent trends in the job market, where flexible work options are becoming increasingly important to employees.

Workers have even been found to prioritise home working arrangements over salary, suggesting that a hybrid or remote working policy could help firms source the best talent while keeping staffing and payroll costs down.

Parris adds: “If you’re on the lookout for a new role this January, the smart money is on applying for remote and hybrid positions. As well as the improved work-life balance and lower commuting costs, you may benefit from better job security, too.”

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

Leave a comment

Leave a reply

We value your comments but kindly requests all posts are on topic, constructive and respectful. Please review our commenting policy.

Back to Top