Before COVID-19, before the Work from Home shift, I wrote a piece for Bullhorn on The Future of Remote Work is Now – Tips for Remote Staffing (if you haven’t read it go check it out.) Within the past year that post has become even more relevant, which is why I’m revisiting it here.
In 2020, the world experienced a huge shift in the way we work. COVID-19 caused many companies to shut down in-person operations and shift to a fully remote model. In fact, Bullhorn’s Global Recruitment Insights and Data (GRID) reports 30% of respondents say their business will operate entirely remote in 2021, with 15% planning to operate entirely remote permanently. 56% of respondents even said that the increase in remote jobs will be the biggest consequence from COVID-19 on the staffing & recruitment industry. With many staffing firms stating that they’re “placing candidates in remote roles they never before dreamed possible.”
Remote work is here to stay.
Tips for Staffing Success in a Remote Work Model
I’ve been working remote for the past three-years while traveling full-time as a digital nomad (both as a freelancer and as a part-time, then full-time employee of Haley Marketing.) I watched as my original post became more relevant, and the world struggled to adapt when COVID-19 forced work from home. And I’ve learned a lot between my own experiences and observing the world shift.
By now most people recognize the opportunity for remote work, even in roles where we wouldn’t have previously considered working from home possible. (Have you seen Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon? The entire movie was animated and cut in a work from home environment.) But as we’ve also found it requires an investment in both your company’s culture and technology. Here’s a few tips to help your staffing firm succeed with remote work:
Set Ground Rules & Invest in Technology
InVision, a design-collaboration tool, and 100% remote since their inception, sets standard office hours when most meetings take place (10am to 6pm EST.) Employees are expected to be available to meet and respond to questions during those times.
On the technology side, invest in your technology systems. A good video conferencing system so your recruiters can meet face-to-face (virtually) goes a long way. And did you know, video conferencing is often more effective than a phone call or email to keep employees feeling connected? We rely heavily on Slack, Zoom and Microsoft 365 tools for collaboration and meetings (and sometimes happy hours!)
I said it in my first post and I’ll say it again: communication. Communication is the number one factor in remote work success. And not just communication, but over-communication and intentional communication.
- Share company-wide updates in not one, but two or three places.
- Don’t hold a full meeting for content that could be shared in a short email.
- Create an in-out board Slack channel for your team to share when they’re out of office.
- Use the Slack status feature to indicate when you’re busy and can’t respond immediately.
- Here at Haley Marketing, we also employ the Entrepreneur Operating System (EOS) and a tool called Ninety.io to help us better communicate and hit goals to move towards our shared vision.
Spend Time on Company Culture.
Culture is a difficult task to manage when you’re in-person, not to mention when everyone is working from a different location. There are a multitude of challenges to overcome: lack of camaraderie, missed connections with new co-workers, overall well-being – to name a few. Invest in building your culture.
- Host regular online team builders (lunch roulette’s and Jefferson lunches are two of my favorites.)
- Set up coffee meetings or happy hours where associates can connect virtually and exchange ideas.
- And when you’re back in-house (if you go back in-person) make sure you offer the same recognition and opportunities to all employees – whether they work at your clients’ physical locations or virtually.
- Bonus: When we’re free to meet in-person again, host an in-person company-wide event every year. This is another reason that makes InVision successful.
And for your candidates, build content on your career site and curate your employment brand. Show how your culture supports and values remote workers:
- Profile successful remote associates and contractors on assignment in short videos to show what it’s really like to work with your staffing firm.
- Blog on topics important to remote workers.
- Even offer coffee-hours or chat rooms for candidates to connect with one another.
And consider offering access to co-working spaces with reliable WIFI and a sense of office/community. Co-working spaces are a great way for remote workers to network, bond and work around other people when they need to (when it’s safe to be in-person of course!)
Remote work can work for staffing companies. And it’s here to stay.
Bonus Team Builder Ideas:
- Lunch Roulette – These are a great way for employees to get to know co-workers they don’t regularly work with. Choose a lunch time and host an hour long Zoom meeting. Then create random breakout rooms of 3 – 4 people. That’s it! Spend the hour getting to know 2 or 3 co-workers. You could even break it up and do two 30-minute breakout room sessions so in one hour you get to learn more about 4 to 6 co-workers.
- Jefferson Lunches – These are my personal favorite! The first time I participated in what’s formally known as a Jefferson Dinner (adapted to lunch for work) I was a month into traveling with 30 strangers through Remote Year, a travel platform for remote workers. I’ve never experienced a better way to get to know people. The idea behind a Jefferson Lunch is Thomas Jefferson used to host saloon’s of great minds. He would pick a topic, a few questions and invite several people to come and debate on the topic. Do the same with your employees! Pick a topic (non-business related). Set a time limit and facilitators. Use breakout rooms of 6-8 people. And at the end come back together and share your experiences. It’s important to note that only one person should speak at a time while everyone else listens. And make sure everyone gets a chance to speak.
Here’s few topic ideas to get you started: In your life, what individual has impacted you the most and why? – What is one of the greatest challenges you have overcome? – What gives you energy? When do you feel most alive?
More on how to host a Jefferson Dinner.