James Lloyd-Townshend, Chairman and CEO at Tenth Revolution Group, talks about the changes that we can expect to remain
The fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the world beyond recognition. Businesses have adapted to new ways of working, which has also drastically altered discussions on the future of those in their employ. Concepts such as a remote workforce have been transformed from hypothetical to reality in the blink of an eye.
Employers offering benefits such as remote working have long found themselves in pole position to attract the best talent, but this could change from being a lucrative benefit to being as expected as your salary itself. Now, no matter where in the org chart you are, from a customer service agent to a senior ranking executive, the likelihood is that you’ll have spent some of the last few months working from home.
It may be an entirely new way of working for some, and it may have initially been disruptive, but the benefits it brings to both employer and employee mean that it’s certain to stay in one form or another in the long-term. Employees won’t permanently have the burden of combining work with childcare, meaning houses will become a more focussed working environment. Children will return to the classroom, but that quality time spent at home now instead of commuting will be just as desirable going forward.
How it may look in future
The long-reaching ramifications of the pandemic mean that companies are going to have to look at remote working being a more permanent addition to how they operate. It no longer belongs in hypothetical discussions about the future of work, it’s about how we accommodate it going forward. Having invested in the infrastructure to enable remote working, it’s impossible to see a world where this framework is then disassembled.
There’s a talent shortage that’s already strangling businesses, so failing to offer employees the flexibility to improve their work-life balance will only see this worsen. For employers, having a happy and content workforce results in more productive (and loyal) teams, so stripping that better work life balance away will be counter-productive, too.
But that doesn’t mean offices will automatically become a relic of the past. This enforced trial has taught us many things: firstly, that working remotely can be just as effective as being physically in the workplace, but also that we can’t continue indefinitely with every meeting conducted by Skype or Zoom. We all love our families and friends and appreciate the extra time we’ve had with them, but we also need the social interaction that the office brings to help with mental wellbeing, as well as the motivation that being surrounded by your peers brings.
Whatever way your team works best, it’s definitely provided food for thought that virtual teams are possible, and will open other some other very interesting possibilities as businesses try to tackle the skills shortage. Will companies continue an entirely virtual operation, or will they offer a hybrid option and if so, what will that look like?
Recruitment will change, too
One facet that could change beyond recognition is the potential catchment area for employees. Previously, more than an hour’s commute was enough to either force a relocation or dissuade someone from joining your organization. That meant a hefty offer to try and attract the right candidate.
If the outcome of this global crisis is an increase of remote working on a permanent basis, then businesses will be able to look further afield for the talent that will truly improve them. A two hour commute is suddenly more palatable if it only has to be done once or twice a week.
It’ll also potentially assist with improving diversity, too. For example, women who take responsibility for childcare and are unable to take a full-time role based in an office, may be able to work for an organization with the more flexible approach that the new normal will potentially allow. There are people from a huge range of backgrounds for whom 40 hours a week in an office is prohibitive, that now have the working world opened back up to them.
Getting ahead today
This is a turbulent period of time, but you need to know how to gauge the success of having your workforce based at home to ensure you can achieve business buy-in when it becomes optional rather than enforced. That means benchmarking productivity, so you can gauge the output of your remote workforce and use it to inform the decision-making process as we approach whatever the new normal is. For us, it’s been a huge positive, but that’s not to say that will be the same in every organization or sector.
It’s vital to remain open to flexible working arrangements once the world does re-emerge, though. Offering the potential of a better work life balance undoubtedly makes you a more attractive proposition – when we’ve surveyed tech professionals, it’s often cited as a big influencing factor into accepting a job offer. However, being able to clearly define whether this benefits you as a business is essential going forward beyond the enforced isolation period we’re experiencing at the moment.
One thing is absolutely certain: After 2020, having the flexibility to work from home will become far more normal in people’s day to day lives than it was previously. And getting to grips with it now, so that you can champion its inclusion within your own organization, will put you ahead of your competitors when it comes to sourcing the best talent to fill the skills gap within your own industry.
About the author
James Lloyd-Townshend is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Tenth Revolution Group. Through the company’s specialist tech recruitment and cloud creation arms, James is dedicated to bridging the digital skills gap by introducing net new talent to in-demand tech ecosystems.