When discussing COVID-19, the immediate impacts of COVID-19 on the job market seem to be rather evident, but what about the long term impacts? The pandemic has been turbulent and uncontained at large for most countries, with the world economy estimated to have shrunk by 4.4% according to the IMF, with only 24 countries seeing an increase in Real GDP, of which only 14 saw an increase of more than 1% (China and Vietnam included). Travel restrictions, declines in global trade, quarantine and uncertainty have led to rises in unemployment, closing of businesses, demand shocks — with demands for different products and services changing suddenly and severely (temporary hoarding of sanitary products, increase of spending in the health sector and the sharp decrease in demand of non-essential products), and consequently supply shocks and the decrease of money velocity. In this article we will discuss why the trends of remote work and talent acquisition software might be here to stay.
Whilst unemployment figures improve as innovation and response to the pandemic mitigate its threat, there are long-term implications that should be considered. Innovation has been key for businesses during this pandemic, and oftentimes it has been involuntary, as certain systems had to adjust or disintegrate. And in these instances, it is mutually understood by all stakeholders that there is no other alternative, and that they will have to adopt certain practices, which will certainly see improvement as these systems see prevalent application from businesses from different sectors and geographies alike. And to a certain extent, practices which have been promoted by certain stakeholders in a business, but have been vetoed by other stakeholders not in favor of the practice, may be here to stay, as such practices may have demonstrated to bring substantial benefits to the businesses, creating a precedent for the practices to be favored and widely accepted. Remote working and talent acquisition software are these practices, having had significant driving force behind them pre-COVID for their many benefits; and you need to be prepared for these practices to shake up the new post-COVID job market.
The Trend of Remote Work Pre-COVID
Telework, or remote work or telecommuting, is defined by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management as “a work flexibility arrangement under which an employee performs the duties and responsibilities of such employee’s position, and other authorized activities, from an approved worksite other than the location from which the employee would otherwise work”. They also state that “this definition of telework includes what is generally referred to as remote work but does not include any part of work done while on official travel or mobile work”.
Remote work has been gradually growing over the years for multiple reasons. The benefits to realize are mutual for employers and employees, although it can be argued that the benefits it induces for employees are the primary driving force for the consistent increase in remote work, as statistics overwhelmingly suggest that a vast majority of the US labor force which work remotely prefer this model of work. Buffer conducted a study on 2500 remote workers, where they derived various intriguing statistics which can be used to comprehend the sentiments which remote workers hold for remote work, and it is definitely worth the read. Key statistics I would like to source are that 99% of the correspondents would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers and that 95% of the correspondents encourage others to work remotely. The participants of the study were also asked about the biggest benefit they realize from working remotely, where the main reasons, listed in order of popularity, were: flexibility (40%), working from any location (30%), time with family (14%) and working from home (13%). Other interesting statistics on remote work have been compiled and sourced by HubSpot.
Well, why is remote work beneficial for employers? For starters, the mere fact that remote work is beneficial for employees, makes remote work beneficial for employers. To elaborate, if remote work is more likely to keep certain employees content and happier with their occupation, it may result in higher morale, which may result in higher productivity and higher employee retention rates. Another key reason can be to cut costs. You can cut costs in two main ways. Firstly, there is less of a need for office spaces and utility supplies, hence the employer can cut costs on renting offices and utility payments. And secondly, remote work makes flexible working hours and freelance employment easier, more productive and more accessible, and creates opportunities for such employment which has the potential to cut overhead costs and allocate time and resources more efficiently.
Lastly, I would like to mention perhaps one of the most key benefits which can truly help transform the company. This benefit is expanding the pool of candidates for talent acquisition. Searching for candidates near your location explicitly can land you a very limited list of candidates, and might force you to make compromises on a hire which you view as suboptimal. For example, if a certain skill or profession is not popular in an area and the candidates for your hire hold severe leverage over negotiations, you can mitigate such compromises by hiring in a completely different location where the leverage is yours. For example, if one of your requirements for a job title is a significant level of proficiency in English, and your offices are located in a location where English is not well professed, you might need to look to other job markets to source a candidate.
An interesting thing to note is how much the employer’s benefit coincides with the employee’s. The flexibility of working hours is a benefit for both ends, as certain people want to adjust their occupation hours according to their lifestyle, and not the other way around, and employers might be looking to add flexibility in their employment to maximize efficiency; the employee’s benefit of finding work from any location coincides with the employer’s as he might be looking to other job markets which possess needed skills, and the employee might be looking at job markets where his skill is demanded; and employers might be looking to cut rental and utility supply expenses, whereas employees might be looking to cut transportation expenses. Although remote work seems to be the perfect mediator for employers and employees, the uncertainty and skepticism which may arise of productivity levels of remote staff, and challenges remote workers may face with the practice (included in the Buffer study) may end up halting telecommuting reaching the heights it has the potential to reach. But this is where COVID-19 comes in. COVID-19 disrupted the consistent, but gradual increase in remote working, by skyrocketing the phenomenon to new heights. Businesses which had a terrible time with the practice may end up discarding it, hurting the upwards trend, but businesses which successfully implemented the practice may end up adopting it outside of the circumstances born by the pandemic. But we have reasons to believe the latter is occurring more than the former.
The Amping of Remote Working during COVID-19
We have now established why remote working may be here to stay. With COVID-19 now disrupting gradual growth of remote working, locked by uncertainties and skepticism, the involuntary adoption of remote working as a means of sustaining business may now either purge employers of their skepticism, or vindicate them; which will either unchain the practice, making it become the new norm, or resume its gradual growth.
Let us look at some interesting data which pinpoint the spike of remote working, and observe some other information which may hint which of the scenarios is most likely to play out.
First, we have a graph exported from Google Trend Analytics, which shows the trend of searches for remote working from 2004 to December of 2020 (Graph 1). The Graph shows a gradual increase in remote working, and a major spike in the March of 2020, with COVI-19 reaching the western world, followed by a decrease in searches — yet having searches way higher than pre-COVID, followed by another spike in searches around November-December, during sudden increases in COVID-19 cases for North America and Europe.
Then, we have a chart which shows the share of the labor force working remotely in May, June, July and August, in which we see the share decreasing, as expected after the spike from the outbreak. This data can be compared to pre-pandemic data, where, according to Flexjobs, in mid-February of 2020, 3.4% of the workforce worked from home, whereas a quarter of the workforce teleworked in August of 2020.
According to Gallup, as of September, 35% of workers want to continue working remotely because of preference, 35% want to return to working in office and 30% want to work remotely because of COVID concerns.
With major companies like Twitter and Facebook announcing that they will continue employing workers remotely, and concerns about workforce productivity depletion being alleviated for some, remote working seems like it is here to stay.
Talent Acquisition Software
Talent Acquisition Software is a solution which complements the increasing presence of remote working. The talent acquisition market is one which has consistently grown over the years, with innovation and competition constantly increasing the standards of the industry and improving user experience. With remote working, there is often not much of a need hiring locally, and conversely, you can hire from specific locations outside of your region. Through hiring only near the location of your offices for remote work you often limit the size of your candidate pool for a job that can be done from the other side of the world, and you may also be restricting yourself financially by paying high salaries for these jobs if the area of your offices has high price levels. With talent acquisition software, you can integrate with multiple online job boards and hire from anywhere in the world. This software, often called Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), allows you to manage your entire recruitment process within one platform, with the software providing the recruiter with multiple recruitment solutions, such as: data storage for candidates and resumes; features for process creation, such as workflows, email templates and requisitions; candidate communication throughout the process; reports and analytics; filtering, sorting, searching through candidates and features to make candidate management easier; team collaboration; additional practices to enhance recruitment, such as interview scheduling, surveys, referrals, testing and assessment, and employer branding; job posting; and stored feedback, notes and interview scorecards.
If you’re looking for a post-COVID solution to recruitment, and want to keep up with your competitors in this new job market, you need to use HireBee. HireBee is a talent acquisition and candidate relationship management software. It is a startup founded in 2019, that has put direct emphasis on hiring in the post-COVID world. HireBee is going global and helping employers connect with candidates from all parts of the world. Its modernity means that the platform is going to develop accordingly with the effects of COVID-19, with feature requests and suggestions from customers always being discussed and evaluated between the HireBee team, and ways of implementation innovated. Other Applicant Tracking Systems which have built a name for themselves and developed a large customer base pre-COVID will not have their product catered towards post-COVID solution from the ground up. The future of recruitment is here, start a free trial now to get a taste of that future.