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‘Anti-worker’ storms out of job interview after ‘remote’ WFH role was hybrid

Job seekers are outraged at a “frustrating” interview tactic, as a major battle heats up between employers and their staff.

A user on Reddit’s popular “Anti-work” forum claims they stormed out of a job interview after a position was advertised as work-from-home – only to be told they actually had to come into the office.

“I rock up to interview, and they say that the role is actually hybrid (three days a week in the office) and they only advertised it as remote to get a bigger pool of applicants,” the user wrote.

“I showed no shade, and said that I would be writing reviews on Glassdoor, Google and Indeed explaining that this organization does not operate with honesty and integrity, and that my experience should be a warning to others who might be attracted to so-called ‘remote’ positions. I then walked out.”

They added: “Because how f***ing dare they waste my time.”

Antiwork, a movement which advocates for employees to abandon the “modern day workplace” and prioritize their “individual needs and desires”, has rapidly grown in prominence over the past two years as the coronavirus pandemic has forced many to rethink their careers.

The viral post on the two-million-strong Reddit group has generated more than 1500 comments, with a number of people reporting similar experiences.

“This happened to me too,” one wrote. “Except they advertised ‘hybrid schedule available’ and then in the interview they said they’re getting everyone back in the office ASAP. BYE”.

Experts say there is definitely a growing trend of employers seeking to entice candidates by advertising remote roles that aren’t actually remote.

Writing for Slate this week, Alison Green from the Ask a Manager blog said an increasing number of jobseekers were encountering the “frustrating phenomenon”.

“It’s become quite common for candidates to see a job posting for a role that claims to be remote, apply, confirm in the first contact that they’re looking for 100 per cent remote work, and go through several rounds of interviews, only to find out late in the process that the employer actually wants them to come in one or two days a week or even more,” she wrote.

“Why aren’t employers being more transparent in their job ads? Part of the reason may be that they think they’ll attract more applicants if they frame jobs as remote even when they have a hybrid work schedule (at best).”

She added, “Other times, employers are OK with the job being remote temporarily because of Covid, but they expect the person they hire to eventually work from the office when it’s safer to do so – which can be an unpleasant surprise to a candidate located many states away who has no plans of moving.”

Women want WFH roles

Melbourne-based recruiter Graham Wynn from Superior People Recruitment said he had observed a similar trend in Australia.

Mr Wynn said he was seeing “a lot more people wanting to work from home”, particularly women, with employers trying to strike a delicate balance between attracting talent in a tight job market while also bringing staff back to the office.

“We’ve got a couple of these hybrid-type roles,” he said.

“I get the impression it’s a way of enticing people because they’re having trouble finding candidates. The underlying trend appears to be, let’s get the person in, then down the track get them in full-time.”

According to jobs website Seek, there was a large rise in the proportion of advertised jobs that included work-from-home-related keywords in their descriptions during the pandemic – from around 0.5 per cent pre-Covid to 3-3.5 per cent in late 2021.

“This proportion has plateaued in recent months but has remained at its elevated Covid level,” a spokeswoman said.

Mr Wynn said there was a “a real battle going on at the moment between employers and employees” over returning to the office after many had grown accustomed to working from home.

“Employers are trying to work around this as best they can but eventually they’ll make a decision, if the person won’t return to the office they’ll have to let them go and replace them, simple as that,” he said .

Earlier this month, Elon Musk put his foot down on the issue, ordering all Tesla employees to come back for a “minimum” of 40 hours per week in the office or “pretend to work somewhere else”.

His order sparked a war of words with Australian billionaire Scott Farquhar, co-founder of software company Atlassian, who described it as “something out of the 1950s” and encouraged Tesla employees to join his company instead.

Mr Wynn said the bottom line was many employers found employees were not as productive working from home.

“I’ve actually got a couple of employers who’ve put on more people in the office on short-term contracts to deal with the backlog because the people working from home are not as efficient,” he said.

It depends on the job, however.

“In the IT sector they’re on time frames where a project must be completed by X, so the employer doesn’t care when you do it,” Mr Wynn said.

“Roles where there is a daily workload that has to be done, I think those are the ones that fall down a bit. Unfortunately what employers are finding in those kinds of roles is they need more access, people are not responding to phone calls and emails as efficiently.”

‘Never seen it this bad’

Mr Wynn said employers across all sectors were grappling with massive skills shortages after the international border closure during Covid.

“I’ve done this business for 13 years, I’ve never seen it this bad,” he said. “This is the worst and most difficult it’s been to find people.”

He said it was “across the board”.

“Salespeople, technicians, a bit of IT we’re struggling with as well, but even the more basic roles which don’t require any experience like receptionists, we’re even struggling to find those at the moment,” he said.

Compounding the skills shortages caused by the loss of overseas backpackers and students was a shift in attitudes during Covid.

“Since Covid a lot of people are reluctant to jump into a job unless it fits their criteria,” he said. “Jobseekers are being more specific about what they want, but on the other side of the fence, employers having to recover from Covid are being more specific about what they want.

“The two parts are growing further away.”

The rapid shift was highlighted earlier this year in a survey which found more than half of under-35s would quit if their job stops them “enjoying life”.

But the findings from Randstad’s Workmonitor study, which polled 35,000 employees across 34 countries, suggested the so-called “Great Resignation” was less of a phenomenon Down Under, with only 26 per cent of Aussie workers saying they had quit a job because it didn’t ‘t fit in with their personal life, compared with 34 per cent globally.

“The Great Resignation isn’t happening in Australia,” Mr Wynn said.

“If it was we wouldn’t be having trouble finding people. Australia is a very different market, it’s much more spread out and not as easy for people to change jobs. The distance between employers is far greater than the UK or America.”

He added, “A lot of people who’ve still got their jobs are showing loyalty to the employers who kept them through Covid. They’re not really moving, but if they are they’re seeking much higher pay rates than what the job market is paying.”

Australia’s unemployment rate fell to a 48-year low of 3.9 per cent in April, the lowest monthly number on record.

Despite falling unemployment, wages growth has remained sluggish, rising just 2.4 per cent in the year to the March quarter – far outstripped by soaring inflation, which saw consumer prices rise 5.1 per cent over the same period.

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