The COVID-19 pandemic has caused tragedy and loss for individuals and families. It also wrought economic havoc for families, businesses and even nations. But even as we work through the devastation and rebuild, we humans have a great coping strategy: Finding the upside and the positives. Pierpoint International has always been a remote company, and today we have employees in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Asia, South America, and Europe. As proponents of remote work, we believe one upside of the pandemic is that it forced most companies to recognize that working from home is a viable arrangement.
For example, Gartner surveyed 127 company leaders in June 2020 and found that 82% are planning to continue offering some form of remote work options. Robert I. Sutton, of Stanford University’s Graduate School of business, warns that “Bosses Better Adjust.” Companies like Twitter and Facebook have already announced plans to adopt remote options permanently. Perhaps most importantly, a large percentage of employees love it. Gallup surveyed 2,276 employed adults in March and April of this year and found that 60% of employees who switched to remote work due to the pandemic prefer to continue working that way.
Given this brave new world, how will talent acquisition change? Most importantly, what do companies need to do differently to attract, engage and onboard remote talent? Over this blog series, we’ll address those questions, including:
- How to ensure you make the right remote hire.
- Attracting candidates now that you can’t promote your cool office and on-site perks.
- Tips for remote interviewing.
- Adjusting your employer brand to include remote work.
- Effective onboarding via videoconference.
- And more.
To kick things off, we’ll cover a few initial points about working remotely. Before you can bring on new people, you have to be sure your company is ready. Chris Dyer and Kim Shepherd, both of whom have run successful remote companies, have a book coming out next year, Remote Work. In it they emphasize the importance of take a deliberate approach to planning and implementing a remote model. It includes not only technology infrastructure, but also changes to your communications channels, meetings and culture.
For example, you need to be sure everyone has the technology they need, such as a laptop and reliable Internet access. Be aware that in some locations, such as California, employment law requires that you help offset the cost of working from home. Keep in mind that your company can save significantly on overhead costs, such as office space and furniture.
Your company will need solid technology infrastructure to ensure success in the remote world. Employees need to be able to access systems such as ERPs, document sharing and project management platforms. If you don’t have a chat platform like Slack or Microsoft Teams, it’s important to get one. Not only does it allow instant communication, but you can also create different rooms for teams or projects. In addition, you can create social rooms like a break room, where employees can chat the way they used to around the water cooler. This helps stave off potential loneliness in working at home. Make sure technical support is available to employees.
You’ll need to take into account employees’ home situations as well. Singles and couples without children have a different experience than people with children and/or extend family in the house. For example, until the COVID-19 pandemic is over, many children are attending school virtually. That means that there may be conflicting demands for computer time, and parents of younger children need to help them log on. A British study found that stay-at-home orders are harder on women than men, as mothers often shoulder a larger share of childcare responsibilities.
If your employees are spread across time zones, consider their schedules when organizing meetings. For example, if you book a meeting at 9 AM Eastern, that is 6 AM on the West Coast. If necessary, alternate team meetings so that the same group isn’t inconvenienced at every meeting. If you have team members in Asia or Europe, for example, you have a couple of options. You can schedule meetings so that the fewest number of people are inconvenienced, or you can record the meetings for people to watch later.
Finally, working remotely has advantages for attracting talent. At Pierpoint many employees were drawn to the opportunity to work from home — it’s what many people want. In addition, a remote arrangement instantly expands your sourcing pool. You can engage highly talented people from just about anywhere.
Stay tuned for part two of this series. We’ll talk about screening candidates to ensure you bring on employees who are well-suited to working remotely.
By Alyssa Thach, President & COO, Pierpoint International LLC
Please contact us if we can help you improve your remote talent acquisition results.