Issue Three: The Remote Working Argument Wages On

I have said PLENTY on LinkedIn of my advocacy of working models in which businesses encourage people to feel empowered to work where they wish to. Whether that’s at the office or home – it’s not about where. It’s about giving people the trust to have a choice.

I encourage collaboration in person when you can, and I think businesses should encourage and enable that where possible for those who want it (like me!).

But the choice and balance of work/life should be a priority focus for businesses.

Because I believe that a happy and balanced workforce is a productive workforce.

I have said all this so much that I decided I wanted to stop for a while for fear of sounding like a broken record. But over the past few weeks, this string of events happened, which led me to feel the urge to chip in once again:

Firstly, this podcast – The Diary Of A CEO with Steven Bartlett: E162: Malcolm Gladwell: Working From Home Is Destroying Us! on Apple Podcasts

This podcast naturally made me angry as it seemed to miss all the good remote working has done for the world and how it benefited people’s happiness, work/life balance and feeling of inclusion.

Somebody who shared my anger was Hannah Litt – she wrote a passionate comment in response to this posted podcast, which led me to reach out to her. We will run an episode of Talent & Growth to discuss How To Use Remote Working To Create An Inclusive Culture. Stay tuned for that.

Then, Apple announced this: Apple tells staff to come into the office for at least three days a week | Apple | The Guardian

Again, for me was a real shame that such a pioneering business was taking this approach.

Then I saw a fantastic post in Recruiting Brainfood by Ethan Sherwood Strauss, which summed up so much and made me feel good about the world again. But it also encouraged me to write my own opinions on it – yet again 🙂

Read it here – Work From Home Is Good – by Ethan Strauss (substack.com)

From my experience, the new world of remote working has changed my life so much for the better. It has positively impacted my mental well-being, my happiness and my productivity. I spent a considerable amount of my life in the rat race, hours upon hours on busy trains and whilst I feel I was successful in that part of my career, I was miserable and living an unbalanced life.

After being raised professionally on a diet of long office hours and soul-crushing commutes for so long, I couldn’t see how anything could ever change. Even when I started feeling burnt out and recognising why I could not see how to stop the machine I was in for me or my workforce.

Recruitment has always been about face-to-face office time, bustling sales floors and being able to see your people do the work they do. Historically, it has been an untrusting profession where if you can’t see your people, your first thought is that they weren’t working.

And then Covid hits, we are all forced to stop the machine and hey presto – a new world is born.

A world where people realise they have been spending too much time on trains and not enough time with their children.

A world where people realise that they have been spending too much time in the office and not enough in the fresh air.

A world where people realise they have been spending too much time with colleagues and not enough time with friends and family.

A world which suddenly meant that those with disabilities or neurodiversity, which affected their attendance at the office, didn’t feel like they were missing out on career opportunities that others had – because the playing field was now even.

And perhaps most significantly, after we got out of the economic hole of 2020, a world where productivity and results rose to high levels even though people were still working at home.

And as that market picked up last year and the war for talent increased beyond anything we have seen before, businesses shouted from the rooftops around how they emphasised how vital the wellbeing of their people was and that work/life balance was a must.

The power was in the hands of the candidates.

But now, the market tightens, and we begin to head into a recession.

Fear is setting in amongst the workforce around money, bills, inflation, energy costs and everything else. And I believe this fear is being exploited as those same companies banging the remote working and mental well-being drum are now pushing people back into the office to justify their office space costs and give operational managers an increased sense of control.

This decision is short-sighted. Because guess what, the market will shift again, candidates will be in control again, and the companies who genuinely care about their people’s happiness and mental wellbeing will stand out like an oasis in a hot desert.

Even now, I advise any candidates out there who are being forced back into the office to be cautious and protect their position but also to be curious – look around and see if there are any companies out still hiring and who can offer you the conditions that you need to look after your mental wellbeing, happiness and your family.

The remote working argument wages on. I implore those who have options to use them. Be smart but be bold.

In other news…

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As a huge Harry Potter fan, I was thrilled to have a snap of me heading into Platform 9 3/4. What’s the relevance? This snap was taken at Warner Bros. Discovery studios which, thanks to the legend Michael Carter, will be the venue for our first ever Talent & Growth live event, hosted by The Animo Group.

We promise an evening of thought-provoking discussion and learnings for anybody involved in Talent Acquisition. We have four excellent speakers who will help us be a little better at our jobs. Further news to come on that, but for now, lock in 19th October as the date and register your interest here and now with this Typeform link: https://12ry7qhrk1u.typeform.com/to/ZzKigWXf

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