Why Your Talent Strategy Should Embrace Remote Working
The first digital nomad I met was outside of Phuket, Thailand, in 2016.
I had never heard the term but fell in love with the concept and fervently wished it had been around earlier in my career. To be a digital nomad, all you needed was a laptop and a decent network connection. In more than 15 developing countries that I had traveled to, I rarely was far from those amenities when I needed them. This was when virtual meeting platforms like Webex and Skype were fairly well known, but certainly not as prevalent as the pandemic would make Zoom, Teams, etc.
Every company I have worked for since 1999 has given me a laptop along with its inherent implication: I was never too far away to complete my work. Typically, recruiters have also offered me a cell phone or a stipend to help offset the cost of my personal cell. Why? The message was clear: you are expected to be reachable anytime, anywhere.
why DO companies still fight against a flexible work arrangement?
If I am reachable anywhere, why can’t I work from anywhere?
True, not all roles or all industries are set up for working remotely. But if you have given your employee a laptop, and their role consists primarily of using the data, tools, and software on said laptop, you have a very difficult case to make that your employee needs to be accessing the laptop while in your company’s physical presence.
The pandemic has pushed many employers to rethink recruitment and retention strategies, and to reimagine how they configure their workforce from a location and colocation perspective. It has challenged the thinking that we are always more productive when we are together (which has been a bias in favor of extroverts). The workforce has been pushing potential employers on these topics for decades but never before had the strength of a collective challenge that the pandemic provided. It would be remiss of employers to ignore the lessons of the past 14 months, strategically and tactically.
As employers consider their next steps, they need to answer the following questions:
- How was productivity impacted by employees working remotely? How are we quantifying their productivity?
- What is driving reluctance to accept remote work on a more permanent basis? Is it objective business data and outcomes? Or is it the desire of business leaders to “feel normal?”
- How will my talent recruitment and retention strategy succeed in an increasingly competitive landscape that includes more flexibility with work from anywhere?
These are not easy questions, but they require answers. Existing and potential employees have a new lens through which to evaluate employers. Employers need to re-evaluate talent recruitment and consider each interview (hiring or stay) as a chance to sell themselves to the employee rather than an opportunity for the employee to persuade the employer.
Like reviewing a candidate’s resume, answering these questions needs to be homework an employer completes prior to an interview. Existing employees will only wait so much longer for clarity on these answers before they start shopping for an employer who has not only answered these questions, but has done so in a way that resonates with that employee’s values.
If you are still working through your post-pandemic talent strategy, or haven’t started it yet, Fahrenheit Advisors human capital experts can help- Experts@FahrenheitAdvisors.com.
About the Author
As Fahrenheit’s Human Capital Management Practice Area Lead, Sara Shelton brings a passion for organizational performance and creating great places to work. She enables clients to achieve their business goals by aligning and maximizing their talent, leadership, and culture. She influences with integrity and credibility, treasuring her role as consultant, advisor, and trusted confidante. She is a member of Fahrenheit’s Leadership Team.