The Great WFH Debate – Job Seekers Must Be Realistic

Employee power has never been as obvious and instantly apparent as with the recent debate around working from home in a post-pandemic environment.

Some of the world’s largest, most powerful companies are keeping 100% remote or hybrid office models due to employee demands and protests, or even just increased turnover.

For some, those employee demands have been met. In Apple’s case, it’s to extend flexible working all year round, and in Google’s case, it’s extending remote work to 20% of their workforce, while 60% work flexibly in and out of the office. It seems that for an increasing swathe of the working world, remote and hybrid work schemes are now realistically accessible after 18 months of facing down the pandemic.

However, this very public shifting of expectations in the wake of a global viral outbreak is very much group-oriented and collaborative in approach. One employee demanding a total shift of corporate culture will fall on sympathetic but ultimately deaf ears: thousands of employees, unified in demand, create change.

So how should the modern job seeker – alone, but expectant and desiring of remote work or a hybrid work setup – approach the remote working conversation in an interview?

As with everything revolving around recruitment, it’s best to create a remote work strategy, and that starts with analyzing your needs, understanding your market, effective negotiation, and finding a compromise.

Be a contender, but don’t go for the KO!

  • At Benchmark Search, we always advise our candidates to approach the topic of remote work as a lesson in culture matching. Demanding 100% remote or hybrid work structures from companies that value in-office work culture isn’t necessarily right or wrong, but your approach is critical. If you are choosing to not even consider a position that doesn’t include some remote flexibility, you might be missing out!
  • Employers are more aware than ever that they have to fairly and honestly communicate what they value. If they value (rather than demand) more in-office hours, that has to be qualified to you, and you have the right to know why. But, that doesn’t mean they’re not fantastic employers. It just means they, like you, are finding their way into our new normal and are doing it to the best of their ability while, hopefully, respecting what office culture can give a company and an employee.
  • Think about it from the basis of onboarding. Onboarding is critically face-to-face. From building new relationships to social time spent away from the grind, facetime is vital. Employers are doing amazing work trying to replace onboarding benefits digitally, but it isn’t the same. Your new employer has an obligation to make onboarding as personal, fun, informative, and stressless as possible – digitizing the process does make it easier, and accessible, but is it as meaningful?

Stand your ground, but think of the big picture

  • Prospective employees rightly interview their new employer during the recruitment cycle – the modern candidate market demands it. But candidates have a responsibility to look at the whole picture. By that, we mean that accounting and finance teams have for decades valued tangible relationships with stakeholders and clients. We believe work cultures will continue to shift one way or another over the next couple of years. Don’t miss a great opportunity due to your inflexibility and desires.
  • Good employees understand how they, and their employers, fit into the industry matrix. Making sure you pepper your interview with questions about the changing face of your new employer’s work demands, and how they see the industry changing unique to them will give you all the information you need to make a qualified request for remote or hybrid work. Listening to the ‘why’ is often more important and a great gauge of the culture you might be stepping into.

Employees are rightly seeing the changes to remote work as nothing short of revolutionary. The benefits are proven, it’s inclusive nature is better for morale, productivity, work/life balance, and recruitment. But no one company, or employee, is the same. The most important thing to come out of the pandemic in this regard is the stretching of recruitment tolerance.

Long-term corporate decision-making will almost certainly include hybrid work; that is undeniable. But candidates have to understand and have respect companies that take a different approach to a remote team arrangement. Some companies are adapting quickly and then adjusting again months later. Other leaders are waiting until the future is more clear in order to have fewer changes.


Troy Ashby is the founder and president of Benchmark Search, a Dallas-based firm specializing in direct hire recruiting, executive search, and temporary staffing for accounting and finance professionals. With more than 15 years of professional service experience, including more than a decade with one of the nation’s largest recruiting firms, Ashby established Benchmark Search on the bedrock belief that exceptional people, progressive culture, and an unrelenting devotion to serving clients is the formula for developing deep and transformational relationships.