The Future of Remote Work Post-COVID
The coronavirus pandemic has forced remote working on many businesses, but when it is over, will things return to normal? Or has ‘normal’ changed?
Remote working is no new thing. Most businesses have had to grapple with it in one way or another over the last few years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it a much bigger issue than before. Companies that had little or no engagement with remote work suddenly found it forced upon them as the country went into lockdown.
Lockdown is now easing off in many parts of the world, but that doesn’t mean everything will return back to the pre-COVID status quo. Remote work has become quickly ingrained in our lives, and it’s time to think about what it will look like in the future.
I started with Allen Recruitment Consulting in May, and still haven’t physically met any of my colleagues. From the moment I applied, every aspect of the process was done remotely, from the interviews to onboarding and training. Going through this and seeing how Allen approaches working from home has given me a lot of insight into what the future of remote employment is likely to be.
What did remote work look like pre-COVID?
First, let’s look at where we came from. Remote work was far from unheard of before the coronavirus lockdown, but it wasn’t completely embraced. On average, 62 percent of companies around the world had a flexible working policy in March 2019, although that varied by country; in Germany and the Netherlands, for example, the figure reached 80 and 75 percent, respectively.
However, the key word there is ‘flexible’. This means people had the opportunity to work remotely if they wanted to, but very few actually did. Across the EU, an average of around five percent of the workforce “usually” worked from home, with another nine percent responding that they did so “sometimes”.
For the most part, working from home was seen as a perk of the job, and was often talked about in terms of flexibility. It meant you could work around your family if you needed to pick up your children, for example, or be home if you were expecting a delivery. With remote work being forced upon the swathes of the world, that has changed.
A blended workforce?
With workers around the world being consigned to home offices for weeks or months of lockdown, have opinions on remote work changed? The answer is generally a resounding ‘yes’. In the UK, for example, 86 percent of the workforce would like to work from home at least once a week, with three quarters saying they feel as productive – if not more so – at home as in the office.
This begs the question: are offices going to be worthwhile? A full-time office space is a big expense if your workforce isn’t going to be there half the time. Companies might want to downsize, or look at other options.
At Allen Recruitment Consulting, we have what we like to think of as a blended workforce. We have small offices, but remote work is also built into the core of our business. We find it gives us a lot of advantages, allowing us to work with full-time remote workers, as well as people who come into our office or work from shared workspaces. This also removes a big restriction when it comes to hiring: geography.
The global remote worker
When recruiting for a job, most companies would agree they want the best person. But really, what they mean is the best person within a certain radius. Remote work removes that barrier; if the best person for the job lives halfway around the world, it’s still possible to hire, train, onboard and work with them.
There are still issues. We’ve found that companies are reluctant to hire overseas due to concerns about sending out expensive items (such as the tech needed to work remotely), or because of intellectual property and the risk of sharing it. But we’ve been able to mitigate those risks with contracts that protect the employer, as well as secure onboarding strategies; something we can provide for your business if you contact us here.
It’s worth the extra effort. Opening up jobs to global remote workers massively increases the size of the available talent pool. At a time when many skilled jobs are still facing talent shortages, this is a huge advantage and one that can be easily accessed now that remote working is something most businesses have experience with.
Training and onboarding
If remote workers are going to become the new norm, how will onboarding them work? The short answer is that not much needs to change; it’s not that different from taking on a new office worker. The only difference is companies might need to rethink and pay closer attention to their onboarding processes.
My own onboarding process was no different from being in an office, except it was all done through Microsoft Teams. I was taught everything – from the company’s origins, to the nitty gritty of bringing a candidate through the recruitment journey, to understanding the intricacies of our systems – all without ever being in the same room as my colleagues.
To achieve this, Allen Recruitment Consulting had to do several things. The first was to make sure I had access to all the technology I needed for remote work, along with instructions on how to set it up. Because it can be difficult to remain engaged on an online platform, the onboarding was both interactive and proactive, with set tasks specifically tailored to our training.
All this ensured the onboarding process was just as effective – if not more – than if it had been done in an office setting with everyone physically present. For me, it was proof that remote working works; even if I never set foot in Allen Recruitment Consulting’s offices, I will still feel like part of the team and be as effective as I can be. It showed me that remote work is here to stay, and companies need to prepare for it to become the new normal.
If you want to learn more about our approach to remote work and see how we can support you with remote training and onboarding, you can contact us here. We can help you not only take on the best new staff, but also ensure they integrate smoothly into your company with as few issues as possible despite working away from your offices.