By Robert Davis
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant evolution to the workplace, the workforce and how work gets done. Business closures have forced large and small companies around the world to adjust to the new reality of working remotely. The good news? The rise of the remote workforce seems to have happened quickly and without significant issues.
Most employers have reportedly experienced uninterrupted workflow and productivity while gaining access to a new, much wider pool of professional talent. Many were surprised at just how smoothly the transition from office to remote working environments went. And while some are concerned about long-term changes the pandemic may force society to make, working remotely no longer seems to be one of the most critical issues.
In fact, a recent survey by research firm, Gartner, Inc. revealed that 82% of business leaders say they now plan to allow employees to work remotely at least some of the time, post-pandemic. A full 47% say they will allow employees to work remotely, full time. Long term converts include forward-thinking companies like Google and others.
Rather than questioning remote work, these companies are embracing the new possibilities and considering how they can best use them for their competitive advantage. To help plan for the remote future, here are answers to some common questions many business leaders are now asking.
Q: How has the talent landscape changed?
The proven viability of the remote workforce has expanded the talent pool exponentially. Business owners are truly no longer bound by people within easy commuting distance or those who are willing to relocate. You can employ people from all corners of the country and to a great extent, the world.
Q: How can companies best capitalize on these changes? What are the implications and possibilities?
One of the unintended benefits of a remote workforce is that companies located in “higher wage” cities can recruit talent from other “lower wage” parts of the country that enjoy reduced cost per living. Utilizing remote workers, employers can often lower costs without sacrificing talent.
In addition widening the talent pool, the remote workforce has also deepened it, increasing opportunities for finding talented specialists for use on a permanent full-time or even part-time, as-needed basis. A more diversified workforce of specialists can expand capabilities and ultimately, business success, especially if the talent can be accessed at lower costs.
Q: How do I evolve my workforce?
The first step is to consider how the pandemic has changed your current business model and how you expect it might evolve in the future. Has your product or service mix changed due to new market realities? Do you anticipate that these changes are temporary or permanent (i.e. a brewery stops selling alcohol to start producing hand sanitizer; an events company stops planning on-site events and switches to producing online virtual events).
Next, given this new business model, identify which of your employees you would consider essential and those who are non-essential. Consider the new skills and talents required to keep up with your new business model and address these changes.
Q: What about my current workforce? If my business model hasn’t changed, should I continue to allow them to keep working remotely once the pandemic has subsided?
Many employees who have never considered remote work may have found they prefer working from home. Even prior to COVID-19, research by Buffer revealed that 99% of workers said they would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers.
Many who work remotely find they operate more efficiently, are more productive and happier working at home. They commute less, spend less (on gas, vehicle, food, dry-cleaning, etc.) and save more.
The same may also be true on the employer side. A remote workforce potentially enables significant savings on unused office space, office equipment, food, supplies and utilities. It also eliminates any and all COVID-19 liability. The bottom line: if they continue to meet your business needs, then everyone wins when you allow employees to work remotely.
Q: How should I adjust my recruiting?
Adjusting your recruiting relates back to the way your business model and staffing needs have changed, or how you expect them to change in the future.
- Consider newly evolved and highly necessary roles
- Identify skills gaps
- Assess the locations and expected wages of workers who have your desired skill sets
In many instances, your most desired skill and talent gaps can be filled with remote workers, gig workers, temp staff, and workers who are willing to fill temporary, contract, or contingent positions.
Total Talent Management (TTM) is a unique approach that helps businesses bridge the gap between their traditional full-time talent and agile workers (temporary, consultants, on-demand, contractors, etc.) to provide a robust and efficient workforce. Some full-service staffing and recruiting firms like Alluvion, who provide Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) can help you put together an ongoing TTM strategy that incorporates remote workers, and that can work well for you regardless of how COVID-19 evolves in the future.