The concept of remote working is nothing new, but it took a global pandemic for companies worldwide to take notice and make it a commonplace reality.

With lockdowns forcing workers to stay at home, many firms had to adapt their ways of working and jump over cultural and technological hurdles to make business-as-usual possible.

But now that the ‘stay at home’ rule has been lifted in the UK, what does this mean for the future of how we do business?

On balance, there are plenty of pros and cons to flexible working. But given that 89% of UK workers favour a fully flexible working model, it would seem prudent for businesses to seriously consider a flexible approach — and make the most of the opportunities it presents for recruiting top talent.

What are some of the practical considerations for businesses?

Remote working means less time and money spent commuting, the ability to balance work with other commitments and feeling trusted to get the job done from home. So, it is no surprise that 82% of employees reported improved mental health when working remotely compared to the office.

This improved employee satisfaction leads to a better output for businesses; a survey recorded that 91% of workers believed they got more work done at home. Plus, we all know that happy employees often equal loyal employees — great news for companies looking to maximise staff retention.

Since the success of flexible work, many companies have found they can either downsize their office, join a coworking office space or simply remove the need for an office altogether — dramatically reducing overheads.

However, working from home is not for everyone, and some staff may want to return to the office on either a permanent or semi-permanent basis. This presents some challenges for employers, who now have to manage staff and workflow effectively (and keep everyone happy) across both remote and on-site teams. For example, is there space for all staff to work on-site at the same time, and who gets priority if not? There are different types of hybrid working, so businesses will need to decide which approach works best for them.

Collaboration and interaction are also crucial on both an individual and professional level. Therefore, companies will need to keep new and existing colleagues connected — no matter where they are based — whilst also being conscious of ‘Zoom fatigue’ (which may be easier said than done if staff are working in different timezones).

What does flexible working mean for recruitment?

The recruitment industry has had a busy year, with recruiters scrambling to help companies and candidates manage the opportunities (and challenges) presented by the ‘new normal’.

For employers, being able to choose from a vast talent pool is one of the primary advantages of hybrid working. Thanks to now well-established and efficient remote working procedures, recruitment drives are no longer constrained by geography. As a result, recruiters can target highly skilled a range of candidates that would usually be out of bounds and tempt them with the added appeal of flexible working.

However, although this might facilitate a broader scope for candidates, this does mean that recruitment must be specialised and targeted to avoid wasting time and resources on interviewing — and even hiring — people who prove unsuitable for a role.

Then there is the issue of onboarding. To retain new recruits, companies need to focus just as much on the post-hire stage as the hiring process itself. A successful onboarding experience is key to ensuring employee longevity and happiness. Many businesses learnt the art of onboarding remotely during lockdown; now, the challenge is creating a consistent onboarding procedure that treats all workers equally — whether they are in the office or working from home.

Specialist recruitment agencies can ensure a seamless transition from face-to-face to virtual hiring and back again, saving companies time and money and helping them secure the top talent — and hold onto these new hires through suitable onboarding processes.

Howett Thorpe’s experienced recruitment consultants can help you navigate the challenges of hiring in a hybrid working environment and ensure you find (and keep!) the best person for the job. Get in touch today to speak to one of our recruitment specialists.