The Rise of the ‘Anywhere Workforce’: Implications for UK Managers and Employees

By Robert Half on 18th February 2021

2021 continues to be a year of recovery and rebuilding for both companies and individual workers alike. Global shifts to remote and hybrid working as well as the pivot towards online and e-commerce revenue generation are all influencing the hiring priorities Robert Half is seeing here in the UK. 

Our new Demand for Skilled Talent report provides in-depth analyses of current employment market trends, in-demand roles, the rise of the ‘anywhere workforce’ and more. Produced in association with Burning Glass Technologies, report highlights include:

The Rise of the ‘Anywhere Workforce’

The centrepiece of the Demand for Skilled Talent report is an analysis of evolving UK hybrid workforces, which are now seen as a permanent way of working by the vast majority of employers (89%) recently surveyed by Robert Half. The key benefits of using hybrid teams cited by c-suite survey respondents include maintaining business agility and creating opportunities for better work-life balance for employees.

These sentiments are further supported by a significant rise in the number of online job postings offering remote work options compared with the pre-COVID-19 period. For this national comparative analysis, Robert Half collaborated with Burning Glass Technologies to determine that:

  • The number of remote work job postings increased by 190% during the first months of the pandemic (March – November ’20), compared with the pre-COVID period (June ’19 – February ’20)
  • Around 40% of these remote work job opportunities are in the Marketing and IT sectors (over 38,000 ads)

According to executives recently surveyed by Robert Half, the Top 5 roles best lending themselves to remote work include:

For CIOs/CTOs For CFOs For General Hiring Managers
Cloud Engineering Account Management E-Commerce/Digital
Helpdesk Support Management/Administration Fund Management Office Management/Administration
Database Administration Financial Planning Customer Service (including Helpdesk roles)
Applications Support Finance Analytics Sales (including Telesales)
Business Intelligence Risk/Compliance HR & Talent Aquisition


Worker Sentiment ‘Snapshot’: Career Prospects, Pay Rises and Remote Work in 2021

Career prospect sentiment is buoyant amongst workers surveyed by Robert Half in an aligned series of international online polls, with 67% of survey respondents indicating a positive outlook going into 2021. This optimism is matched by salary expectations and a strong desire for continued home-based working, with over half of workers surveyed (57%) expecting a pay rise in 2021 and a majority (68%) eager to remain working from home between one- and three days per week.

Echoing recent Robert Half US worker survey results, relocation is also top-of-mind for many internationally, with 39% of employees surveyed planning to move to another city or country whilst working remotely and 49% wanting to try a four-day, compressed week in response to increased workloads over recent months.


Five staffing trends driven by the rise of the ‘anywhere workforce’

  1. The talent pool will become an ocean. As organizations increasingly adopt a remote-first approach, they’re realising the value of recruiting outside their city. Hiring managers can avoid wading through a flood of resumes and gain direct access to top candidates by partnering with a staffing firm.
  2. Offering competitive salaries and benefits remains imperative. Professionals with in-demand skills know they still have options, and employers must realise they need to offer competitive salaries and benefits to retain key personnel as well as attract and secure top candidates.
  3. Investments are shifting. Companies are channeling more budget into technology that supports secure remote work and seamless collaboration, as well as employee health and well-being programs and benefits.
  4. New ‘Hybrid’ skills are emerging. Employers are increasingly requiring candidates to demonstrate new skill sets in response to the evolving pandemic. ‘Hard’, technical/specialist proficiencies must be accompanied by evidence of ‘soft’, more people-focused expertise, to form new ‘hybrid’ skill blends, with many of these underpinned by the use of new technologies.
  5. Effective remote onboarding and offboarding are critical. While virtual onboarding has already replaced the in-person orientation process at many organizations, employers also need to reimagine how they handle employee exits from a distance as renewed lockdowns continue in many countries.

The anywhere workforce is definitely here to stay. Adopting a flexible mindset will be critical for companies and professionals who want to thrive in what remains a highly dynamic business environment. 

Robert Half understands that it takes time and effort to evaluate the best talent strategy for different businesses. For further independent advice to assist with your recruitment and workforce planning efforts, contact us.

For the latest salary and benefits information here in the UK download our Salary Guide, containing information for more than 250 positions spanning Accounting, Finance, Technology, HR, and Administrative Support fields .

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