The last word July/August 2022: Alex Dick

Working from anywhere: an essential step for the recruitment industry

Talking about the benefits of remote working is a struggle. Not because it’s difficult to conjure up those benefits (it isn’t), nor because they’re particularly complex (they’re not).

No: it’s hard to write about the positive side of remote work because it’s so easy to get wrapped up in defending the subject against a small but vocal minority who insist that remote work is a thinly veiled excuse for lazy people to exercise their sinfully unproductive practices in what must surely be seen as the end of polite civilisation. A small-minded minority, if you like.

This isn’t an exaggeration: just look at a recent headline from the Daily Mail, which – in response to a Queen’s Speech that lacked the long-awaited Employment Bill – delighted in this “death knell for working from home”.

That’s why I’d like to focus on the positives of remote work as seen through the lens of the recruitment industry. After all, given our professional interest in placing people in good work environments, it’s especially important that we recruiters practise what we preach.

In general terms…

Broadly speaking, the recruitment industry enjoys the same displaced working advantages as any sector that only requires a laptop, a smartphone and enough WiFi to get the two to co-operate.

We’re all used to the slew of obvious benefits that workers operating from their kitchen tables, local cafes and beach hut getaways enjoy, from the time and money saved on commuting to better work-life balance.

These are well-worn topics, of course, and – despite their obvious and overwhelming advantages – they clearly aren’t enough to persuade the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg to stop badgering remote employees with greasy little notes.(Another benefit of remote work, incidentally, is a near-zero chance of coming anywhere near Jacob Rees-Mogg. Unless your name is Mrs Rees-Mogg...)

What about recruitment?

Perhaps the reason these advantages aren’t penetrating the admirably thick skulls of the naysayers is simply because they’re too broad or vague.

So, what do these benefits look like on a more practical, day-to-day level in my own industry: recruitment?

For one thing, recruitment (as we all know) involves phones. If you’re in a large, open-plan office (as recruitment agencies tend to be) you face the dual disadvantages of hearing everyone else’s conversations, and – more disconcertingly – everyone else hearing yours.

On another practical note, office-based recruiters tend to have set hours – nobody wants to stay in the office any longer than they need to.

Another benefit of remote work, incidentally, is a near-zero chance of coming anywhere near Jacob Rees-Mogg. Unless your name is Mrs Rees-Mogg”

This can be challenging when many clients aren’t available until, say, 6pm. Remote working lends itself to flexibility, allowing employees to arrange their days to accommodate these all-important meetings without the hassle of missing trains.

Above and beyond these considerations, recruiters are human beings in a stressful, KPI-driven job. If remote working can remove some of the micromanaging and over-the-shoulder glares of bosses with high expectations, then it’s more than a perk or a privilege, but a basic mark of respect towards people who deserve to work in comfort.

There’s more than one industry that could benefit from this mindset.

Alex Dick is CEO of Alexander Lyons Solutions

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