A Recruiter’s Perspective on Remote Work
In the times of the Coronavirus you can read a lot about ways of switching to the remote ways of working. At Nordcloud we have this in our DNA. However, this article is about something slightly different, although there are some general guidelines here.
Here is the story from Wladyslaw who started supporting recruitment in Scandinavia fully remotely… from our office in Poznań, Poland.
When I came to Nordcloud a year ago, I took on the challenge of supporting recruitment in Scandinavia. Back then, I already had a couple years of experience working as a recruiter and sourcer. Before that, I also worked as an Executive Assistant in two consulting companies, where I remotely supported managers and partners from German-speaking countries.
Needless to say, I felt quite ready for this. Everything seemed quite familiar to me. I knew how to work with remote colleagues, I was really into agile ways of working and I also had a plan in my head on how to do it. I have also been very interested in this region, since I studied Scandinavian politics & culture during my studies.
Now, after one year, I must admit that I had to revise a lot of my assumptions about remote recruitment. Was it challenging? Sometimes yes. Was it worth taking on this challenge? Definitely yes!
The current situation is forcing us to rethink our ways of working in many industries. Working as a remote recruiter in the IT industry is probably easier, because people you work with are a bit more used to it. I can imagine that it’s not always easy. People really appreciate personal contact a lot and it’s much easier to give a good impression if you meet someone face-to-face.
However, it’s not impossible. You can still do it successfully. The most important thing one needs to take into consideration is not to take anything for granted. When you meet someone in the conference room or in the lobby, interaction starts in a natural way. How many times have you been reminded of telling something important to your colleague when you met them in the kitchen? In a virtual world you need to create those situations proactively.
So, what are the key takeaways from this past year? I would mention 4 of them.
- Building good relationships with the people
Considering a bigger picture, I think that the cornerstone of every effective remote cooperation is building good collaboration with your working peers. It is of course harder to do it when you don’t meet these people every day in the office, but it’s not impossible. I think that an important source of inspiration for me was the fact that I immediately started to work in a recruitment team that was already spread between many locations. Some of my colleagues that I closely cooperate with work in Helsinki, London & Stockholm. When I was in doubt, I could reflect on how great we can work together.
The biggest challenge with working in such a setup is that it seems counterintuitive. There’s no doubt about the fact that people are social animals – we like to interact with each other and we enjoy personal contact. Therefore, you need to make this as close to the real situation as possible. You need to set up regular catch-ups, ideally with video connections.
However, it’s not always possible. You might be afraid of using instant messaging (like Slack, Teams etc.) but sometimes this is the only way of doing it. As much as recruitment is important for hiring managers, tech recruiters and other colleagues, you also need to remember that they often have a lot of other stuff to do. Your priorities are not their priorities. And this is normal. Accept it and carry on. Which leads us to the second point, which is…
- Persistence is the key!
You would probably agree on how annoying it seems when your partner or friend doesn’t want to respond to this super important message you sent them 20 minutes ago. You check your WhatsApp, SMS, Messenger or whatever and nothing is there. The same goes for your virtual workplace. How many times have you had an ideal candidate with two other offers on the table, but your business partners are away in client workshops and it’s super hard to get hold of them?
Be clear about your goals. And remember that people expect you to be responsible for delivering them. As cruel as it sounds, no one will care that it was too hard to reach someone in charge of decision-making. It’s you who needs to push through. Even if you don’t see it now, this is how you build a strong credibility in front of your remote colleagues, peers and hiring managers. It will pay off one day. Trust me.
- Remembering that this is just a substitute of a personal contact
Let’s admit it – nothing will replace eye-2-eye contact. I know it sounds brutal and for some it can even be contradictory to what I just wrote. But I also believe that staying as true to reality as possible can help you avoid a lot of disappointment. This is how the world today works and the sooner you adapt to it the better for you. It’s irrelevant whether you perceive it as something positive or negative. This is a reality coming true. According to Forbes.com 50% of the U.S. workforce will soon be remote. The same will happen in other countries in the coming decades.
The current worldwide coronavirus crisis can even accelerate that, now that many companies have realized in practice how it works, and their legacy culture is not impeding it.
This is a great opportunity for you to be ready when the future knocks on your door!
However, it really helps a lot if you can meet your colleagues in person once in a while. How often would it need to be? It’s really a very individual thing, but from my experience I would say that meeting at least once a year is essential.
Does it mean that if you have never met your colleagues, you will never build a successful and effective team? Of course not, it is totally possible! Then you just need to make this extra effort to make it work, but trust me, it’s really worth it! There are companies that already operate fully remotely. I think that the most famous one currently is Buffer, a company that has created a software application designed to manage accounts in social networks. But how to plan it in the most effective way? This leads me to the last point…
- Try agile!
Agile is a great idea that was created in the beginning of the century to improve the quality and delivery of software products. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about it already, since it has also become very popular outside of the IT realm nowadays. Although agile offers some concrete tools or methodologies to use (SCRUM being the most famous one), it’s not about the tools you use but how you approach daily work. This is an amazing way of working in remote teams, because it forces you to think how you can work smarter every day. At Nordcloud we started implementing agile in HR by working in SCRUM. We also use tools like Trello and Slack to make our daily communication more effective. If you are an HR person looking for more specific guidelines, I recommend you visit an Agile HR Manifesto website, which was compiled by a team lead by Pia-Maria Thoren.
To sum up
Remote work is constantly gaining on popularity and it will do so even more in the future. If you work as an HR person, you may have already come across this way of working. It may be even so that your employer allows you to work from home once a week. Maybe you have this business partner, hiring manager etc. that you struggle to work effectively with.
Regardless of where you are now and what you do, this will become an even bigger part of your reality much sooner than you think. I hope you find some thoughts in this article useful on your path to success in this rapidly changing world.
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