The home-working boom means anyone can work anywhere, hugely widening the talent pool
“There is one fish in the pond, and ten anglers on the bank,” goes a Vietnamese proverb. As the current working-from-home debate gathers momentum, the discussion in large part revolves around the required rethink of management practices and technological enhancements.
However, an even more impactful element is often overlooked: the significantly enhanced talent pool available to organisations thanks to the decoupling of ‘place to work’ from ‘place to live’. Let’s start by looking at a few specific such enhancements and considering their impact.
Prior to covid-induced widespread WFH policies, desk workers had to be physically present for at least eight hours a day. The two-hour daily round-trip commute in major big cities made it impossible to choose a place to live too far away from the office, with the side effect of creating a captive audience for increasingly unaffordable big-city residential property markets.
Those two hours daily translate into roughly 40 hours monthly – or 11 working weeks of annual commute time. Apart from the associated costs and family impacts, having your employees spend (largely unproductive) 11 working weeks a year travelling just to sit at a desk doesn’t sound like a smart investment, especially given the widely used corporate slogan ‘employees are our biggest asset’.
So, what can be done about it? How about meeting fortnightly in the office to reconnect and the rest of the time working from home (or a shared office space nearby)? This would allow employees to live pretty much anywhere within the UK, Continental Europe and beyond. It would also allow employers to fish in a much bigger pond when recruiting.
Martin Schwarzburg: Tim, how is the opportunity to recruit from a much wider geographical talent pool perceived among your clients?
Tim Green: In a word, mixed. The pandemic has changed the way many businesses are operating, and it could impact the way employees are hired from a geographical perspective. Broadly speaking, the overall trend may be more distributed teams, and a lot of people assume that more remote working means the talent pool is now global. But that very much depends on the sector and size of the business, and the job function or skillset a business is looking to attract.