Embracing home working at the start of the pandemic felt like survival.
It’s fair to say the world has changed dramatically since we published our first salary guide and the way most people work has changed forever. As the saying goes, there is always some good that comes out of bad! 18 months down the line, are we all desperate to get back to the old grind or is remote flexible working here to stay?
The shock of the first lockdown in Spring 2020 pretty much closed all our clients offices. There was an initial scramble for companies to secure portable tech, alternatively people simply took home their workstations and set up on the kitchen table. Those lucky enough to have home offices actually put them to good use and some of us converted sheds / garages into dedicated home working spaces! We all played our part in making the best out of any space we had and suddenly we were all thrust into the world of Teams/ Zoom meetings... and the Friday night online quiz had taken off!
What took most people by surprise was the remarkable speed employers and employees adapted to suddenly being thrust into a remote working model. The WFH concept which was largely untested for most businesses worked. Survival mode bolstered by the furlough scheme was replaced with a cautious optimism and by the early part of the summer 2020 a selection of our clients started to recruit again with interviews taking place online and starters being inducted from home.
So how has the pandemic changed recruitment for job seekers and hiring clients a year or so on? Here are some of our thoughts!
AGILE OR HYBRID WORKING
Agile and hybrid working are now prominently featured in multiple job advertisements, refreshingly most businesses now offer the best of both home working and a dedicated studio / office space enabling a collaborative working environment. The combination of both is referred to as agile or hybrid working. Some businesses passionately believe in-person attendance achieves the highest standards and they get the best out of people in the room, and some have ditched the office altogether and now just operate remotely. One thing’s for sure, choice is now there for job seekers that either want to retain the benefits of flexible home working or who can’t wait to get back into the office to escape the kids!
Are our clients back in the office? The vast majority are, in various capacities. Some are back full time, others are operating a rota-based office & home working system to reduce staff numbers and some are letting their employees decide based on their personal circumstances. One thing’s for sure, whilst our overall time in the office has diminished and the aesthetics have changed due to COVID compliance, the collaborative & social benefits they offer by bringing people together ensure they have a healthy future. The workplace will likely continue to evolve for the better!
BREAKDOWN OF COMMUTING BARRIERS
Commuting, before the pandemic, was one of the most scrutinised factors for both candidate and client. The sustainability of someone who has a lengthy commute would raise an eyebrow. One of the biggest benefits that home working brings for candidates is a commute over 3 days is much more manageable, therefor it presents more opportunities that would ordinarily not be commutable over 5 days. For hiring clients, breaking down the old commuting barriers massively widens the talent pool to potentially untapped talent. We are now seeing an increase in talent moving between Leeds and Sheffield, candidates are even willing to cross the Pennines. This just didn’t happen pre-pandemic. We have also experienced an increase in London based practices who are hiring purely remote based talent, often this is on a project basis with the focus on securing someone who is near a live project rather than travelling from the city.
The Interview landscape to which we had traditionally become accustomed to switched completely online during the height of the pandemic. As things stand, there is currently a mixture of face-face and virtual interviews taking place and we expect this to continue into the future. In our opinion, this is another plus to emerge from the pandemic. Virtual interviews are generally more efficient to arrange if a role is time bound or candidate availability is limited, face-face interviews remain the best option for getting a feel for the culture & working environment of a business.
Top tip to candidates, we recommend preparing both an A3 sample portfolio and a digital version, this will ensure you have both bases covered.
JOB RICH, CANDIDATE SHORT
Demand for talent across the entire Built Environment spectrum has reached an unprecedented level, we are now handling a record number of Architectural vacancies across all regions of the UK on behalf of Architectural Practices, Developers & Consultancies. The rather unexpected COVID bounce largely fueled by the booming housing market and wider economic recovery has increased investor confidence with most sectors bouncing back to surpass skills demand pre-pandemic levels, the hardest hit sectors such as leisure and hospitality remain cautious, but we expect demand to increase as we hopefully continue to emerge from the pandemic. The depth of job choice for potential job seekers in today’s market is on a volume that we have not seen before, it’s incredibly jobs rich and candidate short, career choice for job seekers is plentiful.
Clients focusing on talent retention is clear as counteroffers are rife and deciding to move jobs is a momentous thing. The decision to enter the market shouldn’t be taken on a whim. It’s often a trivial and fixable reason why candidates decide to move jobs. As part of our consultative approach we thoroughly pre-qualify the determining factors which might be the driving force behind a move. Our advice is consistent to anyone who is unsure of the best foot forwards: consult with your current employer and give them the benefit of the doubt, should your quandaries not be satisfied you can enter the market with conviction and avoid the inevitable counter-offer scenario.
In the most uncertain period to face a generation the pandemic provided an opportunity for all to consider a more holistic view of life and a little time to reflect on the important things. There is no doubt in my mind that the overwhelming positive to emerge throughout the pandemic has been the normalisation of flexible working hours and remote working from home, the stigma that was once attached to remote working has gone and a credible alternative to the normal has been born. The crucial work life balance has been re-aligned, individuals have benefited hugely from newfound flexibility and improved lifestyle’s when it comes to a career and juggling busy family life.
Refreshingly, as we continue down the road to normality there is a determination and appetite to retain a lot of the positives the pandemic unexpectedly created, the success of homeworking was undoubtedly one of those!
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