home working
06-11-20
Industry Analysis

What a new lockdown means for you and your employees

Written By
Andy Bristow

Jury still out on remote hiring and onboarding despite apparent success...

For most readers, this biggest impact of lockdown 2 will be on our social lives and leisure time rather than our working lives. The extent of business adaptability has been so swift and complete it’s been easy to take it for granted, pre-March 2020 it was not widespread for first interviews to be conducted via video call let alone final selection and onboarding.  

Had I suggested that as a hiring method 9 months ago to clients I would have been dismissed out of hand yet within 6 months most companies have little hesitation about hiring and onboarding someone having only ever seen them on a screen and with no idea when they may eventually meet in person. 

How have we supported this?

We have provided IT specialists to businesses with the sole purpose of setting up and distributing IT equipment to the remote workforce and HR teams have been suitably nimble in adapting to the challenge of onboarding staff remotely. 

My view is that this has been a good thing, it has opened up opportunities for both hirers and candidates to explore opportunities they may not have previously and jolted people from dated hiring methods however it remains to be seen if this enforced change in hiring practice is here to stay. Despite Zoom’s significant share price spike, this technology has been available for years and the reservations that blocked earlier uptake have not been fully dispelled only put to one side for expediency’s sake.

HR and line management still need to assess the long term effectiveness of hiring and onboarding remotely

In 12 months’ time will those hired in the summer/autumn 2020 still be thriving in key roles for their new employers?

I believe we are still in something of a honeymoon period as far as remote hiring and onboarding goes, all parties both want and need it to work, and proved to be practically possible but we await the long-term verdict of business.  

IT jobs will remain stable in Lockdown 2 (for now)

When the first lockdown hit it was as novel as the virus itself and businesses went through the whole gamut of emotions from panicked mass redundancies and firings to more considered wait and see approaches. Our survey of IT candidates during the first lockdown showed that only 16% had been furloughed with the rest making a swift transition to working from home.

Report stats

We can’t rule out fresh furloughing in the IT sector this time around we know a little more about what to expect and I suspect hardly any IT staff will be furloughed this time around. 

As I noted in an update last week (link to it here) the longevity of the initial furlough scheme allowed businesses the time to rationalise and exit staff who were either too expensive or likely to be surplus to future requirements meaning those still in work are there because they are needed. This latest lockdown, as frustrating as it is and whether it lasts for 4 or 8 weeks, shouldn’t change that.   

WFH isn’t for all

Last month, I wrote that working from home is here to stay, I still strongly believe this and for many mid-career professionals that we place it will be a non-negotiable requirement for future opportunities. However having given it a go, I don’t think it’s for us.  I can only speak for Bristow Holland but the conclusion I’ve reached is that having consultants working remotely from home makes us less operationally effective for a whole host of reasons.

Looking out at the office car park it seems many other small business owners have reached the same conclusion. I wonder whether predominately WFH positions will be reserved for mainly corporate scale businesses in the future, they seem to have the most to gain from the shift from large physical offices but for agile smaller businesses with more crossover of roles, the drawbacks may well outweigh the benefits.