Episode 100 of the Talent & Growth podcast saw Hung Lee of Recruiting Brainfood return to the show to share his insights from years in the recruitment industry. He told us his thoughts on flexible working strategies, from the rise of the four day week to widespread issues that are plaguing hybrid and blended working styles.
How are companies getting it right when it comes to hybrid or blended working?
Companies that had moved remote before COVID were called cultural radicals and innovators. At first, they assumed that it was the best way to do it, but they all abandoned it, because no one turned up at the office. Doing a blended approach is the worst of both worlds, because you’re trying to ride two horses at the same time. Some companies have been successful going fully hybrid, but I’ve noticed that those companies tend to be market leaders that are already miles ahead of the competition. Nobody is competing with them, so they’re no longer innovating. If you’re working in a hyper competitive market and you make the decision to do blended working, then the competition is going to eat you for lunch because they’ve removed those inefficiencies. Blended and the hybrid are a luxury state that only elite market leaders can afford to do. I think it’s a bad move.
Have you seen people being driven back to the office?
I’ve seen the big headlines. Employers should take the chance to say why we need to get back into the office. We know that senior people prefer managing in person because it’s difficult to effectively manage a remote team, but there’s resistance to the return. Employees do not want to reconfigure their lives again. They don’t want to commute five days a week. They don’t want to do the Sunday weekly shop anymore. People have different priorities, which is exactly what we’re seeing when it comes to generational differences and varying management styles. That causes conflict, so some reordering needs to be done. This period will produce self-sorting, where some companies demand a return to the office, people will say no, resign and find work with companies that are more flexible or remote only. Those businesses will backfill with early entry talent.
What do you make of the trial of the four day workweek?
The Brits did this experiment quite aggressively with hundreds, maybe even thousands of companies taking part. What was really interesting is that the vast majority reported positive return from this experiment and will persist with it. Two thirds of companies that did it are going to keep going. That’s a fantastic sample, and it just goes to show that we’ve always been a little bit overworked. People are doing 40 hours a week, and you have to wonder how many of those 40 hours are actually productive. I would say at best 20. There’s a bunch of times when you’re distracted, doing other things or demotivated. Most people don’t have the energy to really work for eight hours a day, five days a week. The idea of simply taking down the hours to a more sensible number, giving people one extra day off on the weekend seems to be a very positive thing for these companies, the person going home for the long weekend and society as a whole. When people are happy and relaxed they’ll end up consuming a bit more, which stimulates the economy, which gives back to everybody. I think this experiment will work for everyone.
Do you think we’re going to forget about days and hours and just focus on deliverables?
I would say that it depends on the type of work that you’re doing. If you’re in a collaboration-rich role and you’ve got a lot of dependencies on your work, that would be harder. That’s when some structure is going to be more useful to make sure everyone can work together. If what you’re doing is very low on collaboration or you run your own desk, that would be much easier to set up towards deliverable targets. As recruiters we can work to promote that too.
To find out how Hung Lee is innovating in the recruitment industry, tune into the full episode of the Talent & Growth podcast here.
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