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Contractor enjoying flexible working
Jacqui GrahamJuly 11, 20245 min read

The Draw of Flexible Working: Why It’s Crucial for Attracting Top Talent

It’s official. If you aren’t offering flexible working when looking for skilled new hires, you really are limiting your chances in the much needed pool of Australia's top talent.

The surge in demand for skilled Contractors in Australia

As the Australian economy continues to slowly recover, the demand for skilled professionals has risen substantially. However, as positions for these experts have multiplied, the need for qualified candidates has quickly outpaced the available pool of talent. This has resulted in recruiters and hiring managers needing to up their game when sourcing and retaining top talent in the white-collar sector.  Read more about how hiring managers are responding to the rise of the empowered skilled contractor.   

Flexibility is key

Flexible working arrangements have solidified their place as the absolute cornerstone of modern work culture. According to our recent State of Contracting report for 2024, the preference for hybrid working has continued to steadily increase, growing from 53% last year to 57% this year. This shift highlights a significant ongoing trend we’ve been saying for a while: contractors want flexibility in their working arrangements - and they are willing to shop around for it when searching for their next role.  And the good ones are going to get it!!

The Shift in Preferences: Hybrid vs. Office vs. Remote

The report has highlighted other notable changes in our contractors' preferences. While hybrid working has gained traction, those preferring to work exclusively from home has dropped from 38% to 31% and at the same time those wanting to work solely in the office has almost doubled, from 7% in 2023 to 12% this year.  This trend is pointing to the fact that original post-pandemic novelty and appeal of WFH full time has begun to wane and shows a definite shift towards a more balanced approach, combining the benefits of both remote and office-based work.

According to our SOC report 2024, 88% of contractors now prefer some form of flexible working arrangement, whether hybrid or fully remote. This underscores the importance of flexibility in attracting and retaining top talent.


Flexible Working: A Key to Attracting Top Talent

In today's competitive job market, offering flexible working options is not just a perk; it's a necessity. Companies looking to attract top-tier contractors must understand that flexibility is a top priority for many skilled professionals. The ability to work from various locations allows contractors to achieve a better work-life balance, increasing job satisfaction and productivity.

Damian Bridge (Oncore’s CEO) confirms  "Flexible working arrangements are no longer a luxury but a fundamental aspect of modern employment. Companies that fail to offer flexibility risk losing out on top talent to competitors who do."


A Historical Perspective: The Pre-Pandemic Era

To truly appreciate the current shift towards flexible working, it's essential to look back at the pre-pandemic era. In 2018, according to our SOC survey, only 6% of all respondents were working remotely, even sporadically. This figure underscores how dramatically the world of work has changed in just a few years. The COVID-19 pandemic of course acted as a catalyst, accelerating the adoption of remote work and totally challenging the traditional notions of the workplace.

The Benefits of Flexible Working to your Company

  1. Increased Productivity: Numerous studies have shown that flexible working can lead to higher productivity levels. Contractors who have the freedom to choose their working environment often experience fewer distractions and greater job satisfaction.
  2. Cost Savings: Flexible working can reduce overhead costs for companies. With fewer employees needing permanent office space, businesses can save on rent, utilities, and other expenses.  Read more on how to calculate the true ROI of hiring contractors here
  3. Attracting Global Talent: Offering remote work options allows companies to tap into a global talent pool. This can be particularly beneficial for finding specialised skills that may not be available locally.
  4. Work-Life Balance: Flexible working helps contractors achieve a better work-life balance, reducing stress and burnout. This leads to higher job satisfaction and lower turnover rates.


Addressing the Challenges of Flexible Working

While the benefits of flexible working are clear, it's also important to address the challenges it presents. Companies must invest in the right tools and technologies to facilitate remote work, ensure robust communication channels, and foster a strong company culture even in a virtual environment.  Read more here on how to master remote workforce management in 9 easy steps  

The SOC report 2024 highlights that transparent communication and a collaborative work environment top the chart at 78% as the most important aspect of a workplace culture for contractors. Companies should prioritise fostering an atmosphere where ideas can flow freely and teamwork is encouraged. It's also worth ensuring all managers are experienced and equipped to lead a mixed team of permanent, casual and contract talent in their teams. 


Future Trends in Flexible Working

As we look to the future, several trends are likely to shape the way forward for flexible working:

  1. Hybrid Work Models: The preference for hybrid working is expected to continue growing. Companies will need to create policies and infrastructure that support a seamless blend of remote and in-office work.  Read more here on the benefits of a contingent workforce program and why every company should have one in 2024
  2. Technological Advancements: Advances in technology will play a crucial role in enabling flexible working. From virtual reality meetings to AI-driven productivity tools, the future of work will be heavily influenced by tech innovations.
  3. Employee Well-being: Companies will place a greater emphasis on employee well-being, offering flexible working options as part of a broader strategy to support mental and physical health.
  4. The New Generation of Priorities:  The rise in Gen Z within the workforce means we need to pay closer attention to what this upcoming generation wants and values.  An overwhelming 97% of the Gen Z respondents in the SOC Survey 2024 said that flexible working options were important to them when considering a new contract role. 

Over to You

The world of work has changed dramatically in recent years, with flexible working emerging as a vital key trend. To attract and retain top talent, companies must embrace flexibility and adapt to the evolving preferences of contractors. By offering a range of working options, businesses can create a more satisfied, productive, and loyal workforce. An overwhelming 97% of the Gen Z respondents in the SOC Survey 2024 said that flexible working options were important to them when considering a new contract role. The data is clear: flexibility is not just a trend; it's the future of work.

What are your thoughts on flexible working? Have you noticed similar trends in your industry? Share your experiences in the comments and join the conversation on how flexible working is shaping the future of employment.

To read more exclusive insights and advice gleaned directly from the skilled contractors of today then head straight over to Oncore’s State of Contracting Survey 2024 and download your copy today.