Working from home: Can it work for recruiters long term?

01 Sep 2020 by Neil Rose, Co-Founder

In the wake of COVID-19, work from home is being touted as the future of our workforce and for many, it just might be.

Working from home: Can it work for recruiters long term?

In the recruitment industry, there are some great examples out there that show just how well this can work. Organisations like Job Adder, for example, who already had a percentage of their workforce working from home pre-COVID, or Talk Push, a rec tech organisation who have long been recruiting talent to work from home across the world. 

There are many potential benefits – from the financial (less floorspace = less rent) to productivity (there are often less distractions at home), and even recruitment (if you can hire from anywhere, you really can hire for talent), but there are also some challenges.

Whether it will work for your business, really depends on a few key factors. Here are my thoughts on what makes work-from-home successful in our industry.

Team maturity

If your sales team is relatively senior or have been with you for a long time, they should have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, so they can get on and deliver that output.  If the team is newer, it might take a little more face-to-face time to get them ready for remote working.

A solid tech stack

During COVID-19, we all saw the importance of technology, and businesses that didn’t have the right tech stack found themselves in trouble. It's a good time to revisit your stack, and get it sorted.  It's worth taking the time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t during COVID-19, particularly if you intend to keep part or all of your workforce working remotely.  Think about things like your video call software and project management and instant messaging tools, like Asana, Trello or Slack.  Technology shouldn’t only be about the process – it can play a big role in keeping your team connected too.

The right metrics

At Referoo, we've long been focused on output, not time spent in the office as our performance measure, and I often tell my team that I don’t care where they are, as long as they meet their targets.  For me, there is a big difference between being present vs. actually doing your work.

We all intrinsically know that output and figures are the best indicator of performance, but many management teams still get caught up measuring time spent in the office, and if that's true of your culture, it will take a shift in this mindset to successfully implement work from home.  Making sure you are measuring the right things – output and performance – and have the right metrics in place to do so is important, regardless of where or how you intend to work.

A clear onboarding process

You've got a mature team, a solid tech stack and the right metrics, but what happens when you bring on someone new? Our new hires typically learn the ropes through shadowing, developing mentor relationships and being able to ask questions of their new manager, as and when they arise.  And it's not just about the technical side of the job – helping new hires understand the culture normally comes from face-to-face contact.   Onboarding in a remote working environment is more difficult, but not impossible.  There are some great online tools out there, like Enboarder, that can help you with this process, and you should also think about how you can set up ways for team members to meet face-to-face, through coffee catch ups or after work drinks.

Planned in-person catch ups

Whether it is your sales guys scheduling time in the city to catch up with their candidates or clients or team catch ups over a drink, you need to put some planned in-person contact in place.  It's hard for these to entirely replace the organic friendships that form in the office, over impromptu lunch or a beer, but it's a good start. It's also important to make sure that new hires are encouraged to attend and made to feel welcome.

For me, it's critical that they are in-person catch ups. The days of the Zoom social catch up are over – it may have had novelty value in the initial days of COVID-19, but unless you are in an area that has returned to restrictions – cut them right back or give them a miss altogether.

Continued remote working could be a win for recruiters and rec tech companies on a number of levels, potentially increasing productivity and reducing costs. It's simply about putting yourself in a good position to make the most of it.