The writing is on the wall for a structural change to the way knowledge and manual work businesses operate. Here are some thoughts on how recruiters can adapt for the ‘new normal’.
Trends that indicate a deep and lasting impact
The coronavirus pandemic will eventually become a distant memory; however, its impact is going to leave an impression on the way we work. These are set to be anything but superficial. It looks like there are going to be deep structural changes that fundamentally re-engineer the way we approach work and think about the working environment. But how might these changes manifest themselves?
Some of the best indicators are implicit from the trends that we are currently seeing:
- Home working – There has been a phenomenal growth in home working. In the UK over the course of 2019 around 4.7% of workers operated from home. In April 2020 this has risen by a factor of 10 to nearly 50%.
- Video conferencing growth – Increased numbers of meetings on the Zoom video conferencing platform. Growth has rocketed by a factor of 20 to 200 million users.
- Office space demand – Among UK commercial property market insiders, the fall off in office space demand is predicted to be as much as 20% post-coronavirus.
- Private corporate transport – China is seeing the growth of private transport hired by companies to take workers to offices and reduce the risk of infection from public transport; this is likely to be mirrored elsewhere in the world.
- Desk spacing – Reductions in the amount of office space per worker has continued to fall. Pre 2008, the figure stood at 140 sq. ft; Since 2008 it has fallen to 80 sq. ft. This means office workers now sit 4’ 6” to 5’ 2” apart. This is a significant challenge for maintaining 6’ 6” (2m) social distancing in the workplace, should worker numbers stay the same.
- Work from home legal rights – Finland has already written the right to work from home into law and other countries, including Germany are planning to follow.
- Lower carbon economy – Falling demands for energy in industry and for travel have reduced carbon emissions. The environment is a big winner, with massive, almost instantaneous improvements in air quality around the world. A prime example is that residents of the Punjab can now see the towering peaks of the Himalayas for the first time in 30 years.
- Workplace health protection – There is a strong desire to get people back to work while managing the risk of infection to prevent widescale absences, productivity losses and company shutdowns. There is tremendous interest in health monitoring and protection protocols, best practice, guidelines, compliance, all supported by dedicated software apps and hardware, such as worker fever sensing devices.
Fallout altering the recruitment landscape
Going forward, we can draw some broad conclusions from how these trends are likely to shape the thinking of businesses, altering the landscape for the recruitment industry:
- Home working as competitive advantage – Increasing home working is going to be seen as a strategic move that makes a business more resilient and agile because it provides some future-proofing against the risk of shutdown.
- Reduced importance of geographical location – worker mobility, or the need to be located within reasonable traveling distance is likely to be less of a barrier.
- Reduced contract rates – companies may seek to reduce contract rates where there are no travel costs or time.
- Reduced office space footprint – Offices may be slimmed down, with some companies (both clients and agencies) ditching geographical centres and becoming no-bricks virtual organisations.
- Home worker monitoring – Greater use of systems for monitoring contractor home working. Many systems already have this facility, however, expect there to be integration and consolidation to provide unified reporting to assist management.
- Increased demand on domestic broadband – the capacity of broadband infrastructure may be severely tested. There is likely to be increased demand for business-class broadband lines to ensure connectivity of mission critical roles and high importance workers.
Adapting recruitment to a business environment altered by COVID-19
Some key things for recruiters to consider as they adapt to the post coronavirus business environment include:
- Increased contracting and freelancing demand – companies are likely to need to access skills they may have shed during the pandemic. Over 2 – 5 years, as companies regain the ground lost during the coronavirus pandemic, the emphasis may shift back to permanent hiring, but it is unlikely to be at the levels from before the crisis.
- Attract new workers into contracting – reinforce key messages about the pros of the contracting lifestyle, such as more opportunities for remote working, better work-life balance, more career control and so on.
- Develop more inclusive messaging – as more roles are created for home workers, travel to work and accessibility issues are eliminated; there will be more opportunities for mobility impaired workers or those with other challenges.
- The opportunity of older and retired workers – just like the NHS did in the quest for more health workers, consider attracting those that may have recently left permanent work. For many, economic survival is set to be fraught with uncertainty. Some may seek opportunities to offset the economic issues of their middle years through remote working.
- Develop training on best practice for remote workers – structure and routine doesn’t come easily to all workers and guidance for helping home workers to remain focused and engaged are likely to grow in importance. Agencies should focus on best practice for remote workers to develop a strong working from home etiquette.
Back office efficiency for now and after the coronavirus crisis with ETZ
Whatever the changes to the recruitment market after the coronavirus crisis has passed, ETZ’s powerful timesheet, invoicing and payment system provides the essential back-office functionality and flexibility that agencies need to support high-efficiency operations.
Remember, ETZ helps protect agency workers by eliminating the sharing of pens and the passing around of paper timesheet forms, both potential sources of infection. To find out more about how you minimise the risk to agency supplied temps and contractors with ETZ, simply contact us today. Call us on 0800 311 2266 or book a demo.