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What does smartworking mean to job seekers?


What does smartworking mean to job seekers?

The concept of smartworking offers a range of advantages to the employee of the future. So which ones to job seekers prefer, what are their reasons for chosing them and most importantly, what is their favourite place to work?

What is smartworking?
Smartworking is a concept that not many respondents are aware of: 69% of job seekers say they have never heard of it. Differences are not significant between the different age groups, but as far as geographical areas are concerned, the countries with a greater percentage of people who are not familiar with the idea of smartworking are Europe (76%) and Eastern Countries (64%). The highest level of awareness is found in Asian countries, where the number of interviewed people who state they are not familiar with smartworking falls to 40% among job seekers.

In general, among those who know about smartworking, most of them define it as 
  • flexibility of working time (20%), in particular in Asian countries (44%) and the Americas (27%) and 
  • flexibility of workplace (18%), with a large gap between those that define it as 
  • flexibility in work methods/ focus on deliverables (16%) and 
  • work tools/ bring your own device policy (12%).  
Which preferences do job seekers have towards smartworking?
Despite low levels of awareness and practice of this working solution, interviewed participants showed strong interest in these solutions: over half, 55% of job seekers would like to work from home, 43% would prefer an office nearer to their homes, 33% a co-working space and 30% while on the move. The study revealed a preference among women for working from home (58% vs 53% men) and among men for working in while on the move (36% vs 26% women). 

The tendency to work outside the office is higher up to the age of 39 (with a peak between 30 - 34), and then decreases progressively as age increases.  Among the options offered, co-working and working while on the move are chosen by the younger workers as an alternative to working from home. Those who have already had experience with smartworking say they are more interested in experimenting with these forms of work flexibility (92% vs 80%), in particular, in more innovative spaces. There is a 14% increase in the willingness to work from a co-working office, an 11% increase in the availability to work while on the move, a 7% increase in the desire to work from home and 2% in the willingness to have company offices nearer to their homes. 

If we analyse the answers to this question on the basis of geographic areas, job seekers from the Americas are the most willing to work from outside the office (93%), followed by Asian countries (92%) and Eastern Countries (89%), while Europe is at the bottom of the list with a significant difference (77%).

Working from home or on the move was preferred mainly in Asian and Eastern Countries. Co-working and corporate offices closer to home were most popular in the Americas.

What are the main reasons for smartworking?
Among job seekers who declared their interest in flexible solutions, the greatest advantage perceived by more than half of participants is the possibility to organise work time independently, a factor that recruiters do not consider to be significant. On the other hand, job seekers the following main advantages: 
  • improving work-life balance and 
  • reducing time and costs of commuting. 
Relational aspects such as growing relationships with colleagues in the office, reducing conflicts with colleagues and supervisors and sharing knowledge with non-colleagues are considered less important.  

It is interesting to see that people choose to work from home mainly for organizational reasons (reduce commute time and costs, work-life balance, independent organisation of work time), while they choose co-working spaces and mobile work mainly for professional reasons (higher accountability since results are more important than time spent in the office, sharing knowledge with non-colleagues, more creative and innovative approaches, increases in productivity).

Only 17% of job seekers refuse these options of flexibility: the main reasons they use to justify this resistance is the loss of an opportunity to interact with colleagues, difficulty in managing work-life balance and the risk of more distractions.

Who has tried smartworking?
Many participants are not familiar with the terminology of smartworking. This is also reflected when looking at where participants are working and how flexible they are at choosing their location of work: most people who were interviewed had never worked from home (62%), from a co-working space (70% job seekers) or while on the move (68%). 
Europe is shown to be the area where there is the lowest number of job seekers who have tried forms of smartworking, in particular working in a co-working space (6% in Europe vs an average of 30% across all regions) and working while on the move (6% in Europe vs an average of 32% across all regions).

It is also interesting to notice that the level of experimentation for work location flexibility increases with the candidates' level of education and decreases with age. In particular, regarding working from home and using co-working spaces, respectively 34% and 16% of participants over 50 years of age declare to have never tried these forms of remote working, compared to 43% and 39% of participants between 25 and 39 years of age. 24% of participants with a high school diploma say they have experienced workplace mobility (compared to 46% of college graduates), while 29% with a high school diploma say they have worked from home (vs. 38% of college graduates).

Generally speaking, these results show that workplace flexibility is still not a consolidated practice, even though a percentage of younger, employees with a higher level of education have started experimenting with it.

Would you like to work outside the office?
Among workplaces thought most suitable by job seekers, the most popular option was mainly 
  • the home (55%), followed by 
  • co-working offices (33%), 
  • company offices near employees' homes (43%) and 
  • working on the move (31%). 
There was no significant difference noted for job seekers actively searching for a job in relation to gender or age:  
  • women tend to be more concerned about potential isolation and having fewer chances to interact with colleagues and 
  • men tend to be more concerned about losing creativity and innovation. 
With regard to age, it is interesting to see a higher level of concern among very young workers (under 24 years of age), probably caused by limited knowledge about the job market and awareness of their own abilities, which reduces in the central age range and starts to climb again at the age of 40. The main differences are seen on a geographical level: European job seekers show a higher level of concern on all indicators examined. 

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