Many software engineers will only take a job if remote work is an option and will likely quit if their employer mandates a return to the office, according to Hired's annual software engineering study. Its finding suggests that employers requiring a full-time or hybrid return to office will hurt recruiting efforts.
Employers open to remote workers "are able to get better-quality talent that's a better fit for the organization," said Josh Brenner, CEO of Hired, a job-matching platform for technology jobs. That's happening despite the attention given to companies that are starting to move people back to the office, he said.
Brenner said they see evidence of employers broadening their efforts to hire from underrepresented groups in technology occupations, such as Black and Hispanic employees. Markets such as Tampa, Fla.; Atlanta; and Columbus, Ohio, saw employers making the highest requests to interview underrepresented engineering talent. AI experts see diversity in hiring as important to addressing AI bias.
Josh BrennerCEO, Hired
Technology companies have faced criticism for failing to hire more women and Black candidates for technical roles. Some companies, such as Salesforce, have argued that remote work could help address the industry's lack of diversity.
By hiring remotely, companies interested in building a diverse team "are able to cast a wider net," Brenner said.
Last fall, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the number of people working from home tripled in just two years, from 5.7% of the workforce in 2019, or 9 million people, to nearly 18% in 2021, or almost 28 million people.
The New York City-based Hired operates a platform for technology workers that pre-assesses candidates through tests and connects them with employers. Its "2023 State of Software Engineers" report, released Tuesday, is based on interview requests and salary data from 68,500 software engineering candidates and a survey of more than 1,300 software engineers and 120 talent professionals.
Risk of quitting
The report showed that nearly 40% of software engineers preferred only remote roles, and if their employers mandated a return to the office, 21% indicated they would quit immediately, while another 49% said they would start looking for another job.
Software engineers aren't necessarily taking a pay cut to work remotely either, even in areas with a lower cost of living and wages. Employers hiring software engineers for remote jobs are facing competition, and "the talent is able to command a higher [wage] premium," Brenner said.
Employers also appear to favor engineers with traditional training, such as an engineering degree, versus candidates who have gained skills through alternative programs, including coding boot camps, Hired found.
The technology industry has experienced an uptick in layoffs since late 2022, with the youngest software engineers getting hit the hardest. Employers that are hiring are favoring engineers with six years or more experience. The survey also found that nearly 70% of software engineers aren't worried about getting laid off.
Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget Editorial. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.