Curiously, I've found myself going on a bit of a “full circle” journey in the last few months. Having been a seasoned home worker since 2013, I had become fully accustomed to the challenges and realities (along with the significant benefits) that remote working brings and felt I had successfully navigated that period of cultural transition that every full-time home worker must go through when switching from a shared office working environment. With my reporting line going up into the US, it was extremely rare for me to have any face to face time with colleagues at all.
At the end of last year, I transitioned to the PeopleScout UK business and had been really enjoying connecting and collaborating in person with new colleagues in our RPO delivery centre in Bristol as well as our "Talent Advisory" team in London.
No sooner had I got a few months of this under my belt however, the global coronavirus outbreak meant that this newly-found socialising was unceremoniously swept away from under my feet.
Like many companies, Peoplescout has done an excellent job of setting up their entire workforce remotely. Yes… technologically, we all have what we need, but more importantly, we have several measures in place like regular social meets (my “online bingo” card for Friday has just arrived in my inbox), and a requirement (wherever possible) for video meetings as opposed to calls which are helping to make people feel connected still.
The nation has shown that it is possible for their company workforces to function without the need for them to be sat in an office five days a week, at precisely the same nine-to-five time frame every day. Rather than the evolution continuing at a snail’s pace, it was an overnight, whole-sale revolution under duress. So, when this unprecedented situation subsides, will leaders of industry embrace this new-found flexibility or revert to old familiar ways?
From a recruitment perspective, the key challenges in keeping hiring moving have, unsurprisingly, been replacing what was done in person, virtually. PeopleScout has helped several large-scale companies switch to virtual interviews and even assessment centres using our range of tech solutions including our proprietary, award winning Affinix software (message me for more details).
Yes, hiring is an intrinsically personable experience and there is a strong argument to say that no face to face contact whatsoever before a new employee’s induction isn’t best practice, but there are major efficiencies to be gained by the use of virtual technology and this quandary in which we find ourselves is accelerating how quickly people realise these.
Here’s an interesting article on the same subject.
How willing will your organisation be to embrace the positives that unexpected change brings? How much bearing on strategy will the bigger picture advantages like environmental improvements have, when they don’t directly impact the company’s bottom line but do matter in other ways. Will you see lasting change for the better or a reversion to old, comfortable ways?
A sustained period of home working could raise questions both about the adaptability of managers and the practicality of encouraging more remote work.