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Are employers pulling back on remote work?

The latest job report from CompTIA, based off data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Lightcast (formerly Emsi Burning Glass), suggests that employers tapped the brakes on open remote tech jobs in August, especially for popular positions such as software developer/engineer, IT support specialist, and IT project manager:

Ever since the pandemic began, a sizable percentage of technologists have either worked from home full-time or only gone into the office a few days per week (i.e., hybrid work). The latest edition of Stack Overflow’s annual Developer Salary, in asking the work habits of 58,958 respondents worldwide, found that around 42 percent were fully remote; another 42 percent were hybrid; and 14 percent were fully in-office. “Smaller organizations are most likely to be in-person, with 20 percent of 2-19 employee organizations in-person,” that report added. “The largest organizations, with 10k employees, are most likely to be hybrid.”

If employers are curtailing remote positions, as the CompTIA data seems to suggest, it could have a significant impact on how technologists work—and the companies they choose to work for. Earlier this year, The Muse surveyed 900 new grads about their job outlook and found that many were okay with heading back to the office for at least a few days per week: “When asked what percentage above market rate would you need to work from the office five days a week, 23 percent of new graduates say they would do so with no increase in salary, indicating that they see it as a chance to build relationships and find community.”

But 50 percent of respondents said they’d need a pay bump of 20 percent or more to come into the office: “As salary expectations increase, people need more compensation to work on-site. This may also indicate that as people advance in their education and/or career, their life stage can create a desire for more flexibility—including where they do their work.”

There are also indications that remote work has shrunk the traditional “geography gap” in technologist salaries. For years, technologists in dense tech hubs such as Silicon Valley pulled down more in compensation than their professional colleagues in smaller cities. The prevalence of remote work may have leveled that playing field—and given all technologists more leverage to negotiate not only salary, but also perks and benefits they want. If employers are less interested in offering all-remote work, it could potentially limit that leverage in certain circumstances.

Whether CompTIA’s data is indicative of a longer-term trend, though, the current demand for technology expertise ensures that technologists with the right mix of skills and experience will have their pick of potential positions—whether in-office, hybrid, or remote.