India job seekers aren’t ready to return to the office — 2 in 3 say they value flexibility

In Asia

Workers in India are far from ready to return to the pre-pandemic days of working in an office, five days a week.

That’s according to a new survey by employment site Indeed, which found that 71% — or about two in three — Indian professionals chose flexibility as the top parameter while on a job hunt.

“This includes the ability to work from home, set your own hours, and take breaks as needed,” the job portal added.

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Flexibility has been a growing priority for working professionals, who report better work-life balance and productivity when they can choose where and when they work.

According to Indeed’s survey, which drew data from more than 1,200 job seekers in India, “work modes” such as hybrid or remote arrangements were a close second (70%) for working professionals when evaluating a job opportunity. 

In contrast, fewer job seekers (67%) consider the compensation offered for the job. That includes salary, benefits, health insurance, family leave and other learning programs offered by a company. 

Fewer companies advertising remote work 

In an era of work where professionals want the choice to work where they’re most productive, employers are less likely to offer that flexibility than before. 

“Employers’ attitudes towards remote work remains at odds with the preferences of job seekers in India,” Sashi Kumar, Indeed India’s head of sales told CNBC Make It.

“The latter remain keenly interested in remote work, whereas employers are far less likely to mention ‘work from home’ in the job ads they post.”

According to Indeed, 6.5% of job postings on the platform in June explicitly mention phrases such as “work from home” or “remote work” in their job descriptions. 

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While that figure has “drifted upwards” in 2023 thus far, it remains well below the levels observed in 2021, it added. 

In contrast, Indeed found that job searches for remote or hybrid work remain elevated at over 10%. 

The survey also revealed that 63% prefer to work in a hybrid setting in particular, where they can work from home some days and from the office on other days.

Yet, only 51% of 561 surveyed employers stated they provide that option.

According to Kumar, there are several factors that are contributing to companies’ desire to have employees back in office.

“Companies are eager to restore a sense of pre-Covid normalcy, and bringing employees back to the office is seen as a step towards achieving that,” he explained.

The future of work is undoubtedly evolving, and it’s essential for organizations to remain open-minded and adaptable in response to these changes.

Sashi Kumar

Indeed India, Head of sales

“The traditional office environment has long been a cornerstone of corporate culture, and for many, it represents a place of communication, collaboration, and innovation.”

Employees also see having employees physically present in the office as a way to “enhance productivity” and ensure better accountability.

However, Kumar added, “the future of work is undoubtedly evolving, and it’s essential for organizations to remain open-minded and adaptable in response to these changes.”

Job seekers value clarity and communication 

In the midst of economic uncertainty, job seekers have been facing longer job interview processes as companies become more cautious with hiring. 

According to a June report from HR advisory Josh Bersin Company, in collaboration with workforce solutions firm AMS, the amount of time it takes to hire a new employee reached “an all-time high” in 2023.

The report showed that average time-to-hire rates for the first quarter of 2023 increased across all industries by one day — pushing the recruitment process to 44 days on average.

Prompt communication … reduces uncertainty for applicants, and helps employers focus on the best-fit candidates for their organization.

Sashi Kumar

Head of sales, Indeed India

This may be why Indeed’s survey found that India’s job seekers reflected the need for “more transparency and clarity” about jobs and interview processes. 

Its findings showed that only 15% of applicants hear back from companies after interviews within 10 to 15 business days, while 63% wait between 15 to 30 business days.

In addition, almost half of job seekers, or 48% surveyed, want to know the salary range from employers before applying for a role, Indeed added. 

While the length of the recruitment process depends on the size of the company, industry and role, Kumar said that “clear communication” is crucial especially when attrition rates are high. 

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