Covid-19 has caused so much pain and suffering across the globe. First and foremost, we must acknowledge that this disease is a genuine killer and despite its impact on business, the real tragedy is the impact it is having on innocent people all over the world. That being said, we will beat this disease and when we do, we will emerge into a very different working world.
We have seen the biggest shift imaginable to the way we conduct business. In less than 3 months businesses have become almost unrecognizable to what they were before. Traditional 9-5 is a thing of the past based on mandatory home working and staff juggle their days around work, exercise, shopping and home-schooling to name a few.
Office culture has moved smoothly online with funky avatars, endless memes and video calls on various competing platforms (Microsoft Teams is my favorite). We must accept that the recruitment industry and office culture has changed forever. Like all businesses we have been rocketed into the 21st century and it is both terrifying and extremely exciting!
The first big shift came in late March when the Government all but implemented mandatory home working for those who can. Wow, what a bombshell that was! and we all spent the first week just getting logistics in place. We needed to make sure Office 365 was up and running, that everyone had access to a laptop, that our CRM system was accessible remotely, that landlines were diverted to our mobiles and we set up numerous Microsoft Teams calls to structure our day. Looking back, it was quite remarkable, with less than one day’s notice we managed to take a 25-year old business and completely change how it had been run operationally. The scale and speed of the transition was unfathomable and in a way this ‘jumping into the deep end’ may have been the only way to truly implement such large scale cultural and logistical change.
Once the reality of lock-down had settled in, we realised our working practices had to change as well - we started with 3 x 30-minute ‘Scrums’ per day to maintain as much engagement as possible - where we solely focused on discussing our plans for the day. After a fortnight of doing this we noticed video call fatigue had started to creep in. Whilst on the video call, more and more people were turning their cameras off - the novelty had certainly worn off; so we did what most people would do - we moved to 2 video calls per day and this brightened the Bright Purple mood for another month or so before we noticed the same disengagement. On the 3rd attempt we had a EUREKA moment! We completely overhauled our current routine and made the video calls more audience specific; splitting the team into smaller groups whilst changing the times of the calls and purpose of the calls which has resulted in each day being more varied and more productive.
We now know to successfully run a remote team you must trust your employees 100%! We also recognise we needed ways of interacting to encourage socialising and simple human to human engagement. Many of our recruiters hail from an ‘old skool’ background and were initially over-working, hence with this in mind, we rolled out free time for exercise, optional virtual coffees for non-work related chit-chat and really focused on rolling out our health and well-being strategy.
Protecting our culture and team morale is also vital to our staff and we will always address this ‘head on’, and it is a work in progress to be honest - the right answer today may not be the right answer for tomorrow and we are making a real effort to keep things fresh and will continue to tweak as we go to navigate our way through the 'new normal'.
The change in daily working practice for us recruiters has changed somewhat dramatically too - apart from candidate sourcing and identifying new business opportunities; we realised that as recruitment business partners there was so much more that needed to be done - to support and advise clients on tackling remote working, virtual interviews, virtual on-boarding etc. This value-add will remain at the forefront of what we offer our clients. We feel this has really made a difference, is the right way to conduct business and will secure our reputation.
One of the more challenging questions now facing recruitment companies is how the impact of Covid-19 will change or challenge their workforce moving forward? With so many of our staff home-working extremely successfully, it begs the question of what happens next…
- Do we need a big office in the city centre?
- Do we need to adhere to the 9-5 model?
- Is a 5-day week getting the best output and results from our staff?
- Do our staff want rewarded in other ways?
- Can our clients be more flexible moving forward?
- Can our candidates embrace the new technology needed to succeed?
Personally, I am looking forward to tackling these new challenges. We have all been through a very unsettling period, with predictions of more economic woe to follow, but in my opinion, Covid-19 has shone a light on how we structure our working days and certainly highlighted what can work for the future and what can be left in the past.
The old saying of ‘you cannot teach an old dog new tricks’ will not apply to this 25-year-old business and in fairness has never applied to our founding CEO, Mr Bright Purple, Nick Price.
We will champion positive change. #purplepower.