Recruitment is one industry that technology has influenced more than many others. The process was sped up with e-mails, the advertising of jobs amplified by online job boards, and nowadays we have smart phones, tablets, cloud-based CRM systems and Skype interviewing enabling us to recruit on the move, from anywhere, with instant global reach.
This situation has created an interesting tension within recruitment, though. We are an industry of (mostly) sociable, outgoing, networking types who often benefit from the shared energy generated by open plan workplaces and bouncing ideas off one another. Certainly in recent years, regular knock-backs, clients’ hiring freezes, misbehaving candidates and revenue targets extending further out of reach necessitates some human interaction in the workplace purely in the interests of maintaining some form of sanity.
Nevertheless, technology has given birth to an increasing ability to recruit remotely, work from home and, in an industry where recruiters are measured on output and results more than many others (billings in agency; time-to-hire and direct hire percentages in internal), it shouldn’t really matter where you as a recruiter are located while producing those outputs should it?
That’s why the furore generated at Yahoo! this week by CEO Marissa Mayer’s dictat raises very similar arguments for us within the recruitment industry. For those hiding under rocks this week, you can read the whole memo that was sent out in this article here, but in essence she has ordered all staff with work-from-home privileges to change their arrangements and move from Home-ton to Yahoo-ville by June, or join the jobless on the streets, saying:
…it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.
I’d be interested to gauge the opinion of you, New Zealand’s recruitment community, on whether or not this revisionist approach to flexible working arrangements is the way we should also be regarding things in recruitment. I can certainly attest to the typical reaction of most of my agency side clients when I mention the availability of a skilled, experienced, networked recruiter who can only work part-time, or half a week in the office and half a week from home…. It’s that regretful drop of the eyes followed by slight cock of the head and drawn out sucking of air through the corner of the mouth than essentially says “no bloody way”.
Many recruitment firms do enable remote working, but pay lip service towards actually allowing it, with an employee’s refusal to join the rush-hour clogging up of New Zealand’s arterial roads severely frowned upon. There are also those that simply refuse it outright. The fact these firms also seem to have the highest turnover of staff probably isn’t a coincidence, and the damage done to Yahoo’s employer brand will provide long-term pain in terms of talent attraction, superseding whatever short-term gains might be made in productivity and “ideas-sharing” amongst a more visible workforce.
Having said that, I’m on the fence on this particular topic (makes a change, I know) as I for one am far happier working alongside my colleagues and feel it makes for a more effective and successful work environment. Even moving our desk arrangement recently, from having our backs to each other, to now facing in on each other, has made the world of difference in terms of energy and positive vibes, which are frankly really quite important in a sales and recruitment environment.
The difference, for me, is that I think we as recruiters should be enabled to recruit remotely if it makes sense and outputs aren’t affected. Unleash your teams from their office drone existence and you’ll probably find they spend almost as much time at the desk anyway, just in a different frame of mind because no-one is telling them they have to be there.