Remote Working

Staying Ahead: Leading Your Team of Recruiters Remotely

When the world made the overnight transition to remote working in 2020, it proved to employers what their employees already knew: they could get the same level of productivity from their teams working remotely as they could in the office. 

In some instances, productivity levels could even be improved. With the right technology, employees have worked more efficiently while collaborating with their teams seamlessly from anywhere in the world. Working from home also gave employees more flexibility and time to spend with family or complete other personal tasks. 

However, work-from-home (WFH) satisfaction is not a one-size-fits-all sentiment - just like no two people are the same. Researchers conducting a monthly WFH study found in February this year that 54% of unemployed American respondents are only considering or would prefer to work from home. During mandatory lockdowns, some workers experienced loneliness, burnout, and difficulties adapting to new technology without the chance to socialize in person with coworkers, a clear beginning and ending to workdays, or in-person alternatives. 

Some employees were also less productive at home due to family distractions and competing obligations like monitoring their children’s online classes. Internet connectivity at home and in local cafes could also be intermittent and unreliable compared to office networks. Crucially, this meant that remote workers posed a significant cybersecurity risk to organizations as they accessed corporate information from unprotected home and public networks.

As offices slowly re-open and invite employees back, many employers are revising policies to keep employees happy and motivated while also taking into consideration the security and connectivity concerns of remote working. Companies such as Goldman Sachs, Adobe, and Dropbox have made announcements that range from reinforcing an office-first policy to transitioning to a fully remote environment and various hybrid options in between - and these companies are not alone. 

Given the favorable market for job seekers, their preferences are influencing employers’ decisions to change policies so that their organization is viewed as an attractive place to work. Employers must take job seeker and employee preferences to work where and how is most suitable for them, to have work-life balance, and to be aligned with a company’s mission and values seriously to maintain competitiveness in a tough economic environment. 

It is a delicate balance to keep all employees safe and provide a consistent work experience regardless of whether they are in the office or working remotely. 

To ensure that remote workers are connected to the company culture, engaged, and supported in accomplishing job tasks, leaders too need to change their management approach. Companies emerging from pandemic disruptions successfully are achieving this by adopting technology solutions to enhance collaboration and business management capabilities as well as revising processes to improve productivity. 

In this article, let’s examine how recruitment teams can hone and manage hiring activities conducted by remote teams.

Why has remote work taken off?

First, it is important to understand why remote work was poised to become mainstream in the global workforce and become an essential model for enterprises to adopt. Just a few years ago, opportunities to work fully remote were uncommon, as only 17% of Americans worked exclusively from home before the pandemic. 

Employers generally felt that if employees weren’t in the office, they weren’t working. Indeed, the office allowed employers to control and easily monitor employee productivity by tracking the time they were at their desks and specific computer activities. 

Now that workers have spent time working remotely, many do not wish to return to business as usual. According to a FlexJobs survey in 2021, 58% of respondents said they would look for another job if they could not continue to work remotely in their current role. Employees have also used the time out of the office to work during the most convenient hours for them or carve out time for themselves that would have otherwise been taken up by commutes. 

A Gallup poll last summer noted that some of the top reasons respondents cited for wanting to work remotely were: not having to commute, needing the flexibility to balance work and personal obligations, and improved wellbeing.

It is likely that these were the reasons for overall productivity levels to not suffer despite the intense stress and anxiety that the global community felt during the worst months of the pandemic. In the same FlexJobs survey mentioned above, 55% of workers believed that their productivity increased while working remotely, and while 29% felt that some virtual collaboration can be more difficult, 30% said that their ability to collaborate virtually improved “either a little or a lot.”

For employers, embracing remote and hybrid workforce policies was beneficial to them as well. Apart from higher employee productivity, companies saw reductions in costs - mostly related to office expenses such as supplies, food, and electricity as well as business travel. Accelerating digitization plans also gave enterprises more flexibility to scale operations as needed in response to market activity.

From a talent acquisition perspective, remote working policies also have allowed recruiters to cast a wider net to source qualified candidates who may not reside near local offices. This has been a helpful strategy to identify qualified candidates as job vacancies rise and remain open for longer periods. 

Recruitment organizations that relied on mostly in-person recruiting tactics before the pandemic have embraced virtual hiring as the “new normal”. As a result, recruitment teams have also embraced remote work since fewer interviews are conducted in person - and job fairs have not resumed in-person events in earnest.

Changes to candidate sourcing tactics and hiring processes have also impacted how recruitment teams are operated and managed. Developing teams with exceptional remote collaboration capabilities strengthens recruitment teams - both in agencies and in-house - in a competitive hiring environment. 

Organizations that prioritize remote and hybrid working models can attract more recruiters to their teams - especially if they see career advancement opportunities. Additionally, team leaders can leverage tools - like an applicant tracking systems (ATS) - to track important performance metrics such as time-to-hire and candidate experience across the entire team. 

What can go wrong with managing remote teams?

Even though the majority of employees and job seekers are in favor of remote workplace models, these experiences can be soured by poor, disorganized management and insufficient technology. 

Common challenges that dampen the remote working experience include: 

  • Weak company culture and values
  • Siloed data and systems
  • Inefficient collaboration and business processes
  • Inconsistent and impersonal communication from direct managers and company leadership
  • Unclear or unreasonable expectations
  • Unhealthy work-life boundaries
  • Unmanageable workloads

Allowing these situations to fester can quickly devolve into situations where staff productivity slips and turnover rises sharply. Once organizations get on this trajectory, the trend can be difficult to reverse without significant rebranding and changes to the internal operating structure. 

Considerations for better remote working situations

The good news is that employers can take steps to create better remote working environments by focusing on three key areas: collaboration, employee morale, and security. The team’s collaboration capabilities are probably the elements employers most want to get right in order for remote work to be successful. 

When internal teams are not able to talk and share information easily to serve customers and complete projects, the time that employees waste can’t be retrieved, and therefore team productivity and business strategy suffer. The same issue crops up when too much of an employee’s time is spent on calls and trading messages.

Generic collaboration tools that companies leaned on at the start of the pandemic - such as Microsoft Teams or Slack - helped businesses stay afloat during mandatory lockdowns. However, businesses can take this time to re-examine their investments and consider if other industry-specific integrated solutions can streamline how their teams interact. 

Manatal’s ATS includes chat and tagging functions, which allow recruitment teams to share candidate updates securely within the platform and keep each other in the loop on the status of hiring projects in real time. Keeping these details within a single platform also ensures that the data can be utilized in future job placements to improve outcomes.

Morale is also a huge factor when employees are permitted to work remotely. Low morale can impact retention rates and employee well-being - and critically, productivity. Many companies have started “mental health days” to encourage all employees to shut down their computers and recharge. This is successful when employees do not need to worry about falling behind. Immediate productivity losses on these days are outweighed by employees’ contributions when they return to work feeling refreshed. 

To influence how employees feel about their work and the company, focusing on constant communication and monitoring engagement are vital. Experience has shown that frequent updates from senior leadership and check-ins with directors and managers help employees feel valued. Employees do not fill in unknown information with gossip and customers benefit from interactions with happy employees who are motivated to work toward their company’s goal.

Companies also need to structure the organization so that asynchronous communication methods (i.e. email, messaging apps, and corporate intranets) rather than real-time meetings are the norm. This enables employees to have more time to complete tasks on their to-do list. 

The Harvard Business Review points out why more time spent collaborating can be a problem, noting that collaborative work now takes up about 85% of employees’ work weeks - a 50% increase over the past decade. Such a relentless pace can increase stress and speed up burnout among workers.

Solutions like Manatal help recruitment team leaders manage and track the performance of projects as well as identify when team members are overloaded or may need more support. These interventions can prevent burnout by highlighting internal process issues or training opportunities before they become bigger problems.

As a whole, this is an opportune time for business leaders to rethink company culture, socialization activities, and training programs with remote workers in mind. As Jo Deal, CHRO of LogMeIn wrote in Training Magazine, “Almost every talent program or offering would benefit from a fresh examination, through the lens of remote work.” 

The last, and the most critical area is data security. When employees were primarily in the office accessing company data within the corporate firewall, protecting data was relatively simple. Now, with employees scattered across geographies - and using their own devices in some instances - the threats to corporate systems have increased exponentially. From the middle of 2020 through the end of 2021, cyber attacks on corporate networks were reported to have doubled per week. 

As a result, companies need to develop a stronger security architecture, secure every point of access to private information, educate employees about evolving risks, and maintain the practice of keeping security patches up to date. 

Malware attacks - particularly ransomware - have become all too common, with an attack anticipated to take place every 11 seconds in 2021. Reputational damage and cost aside, this form of attack can cripple business operations and productivity if data or access to systems is withheld via ransom for any period of time. 

The best recruitment solutions take data security very seriously and build it into every aspect of the tool so that recruiters can focus on their core tasks. Manatal’s ATS has earned SOC 2 Type II certification - one of the top security certifications for SaaS applications. The vulnerability disclosure program also empowers users to report potential security issues to maintain the integrity of the platform.

Keeping teams motivated

Recruitment leaders should consider how they can incorporate the following five actions into their team management, especially when team members are partially or fully remote. Each step goes a long way toward increasing employee motivation and productivity.

1. Provide career development and training opportunities that team members can complete virtually in addition to traditional offerings. Online courses through sites like Coursera and Udemy can be incorporated into training and development plans to close skills gaps.

2. Deploy a cloud-based tech solution that unifies data to make collaboration smoother and automates the hiring process to make tasks more efficient. With Manatal, recruiters can do their jobs seamlessly without worrying about errors, information lags, or access limitations. This reduces process delays and ensures that recruitment teams can fill vacancies with top talent faster.

3. Communicate job expectations consistently and clearly, so that team members understand what metrics their performance is being measured against. Leveraging the data from your recruitment software provides team leaders with real-time visibility into what activities are working - and which ones are not. This enables leaders to intervene to offer guidance to team members before a project fails to meet expectations.

4. Trust employees to get their jobs done. Giving your teams the autonomy and support to get their jobs done is a strong motivator - especially for younger generations - and encourages top talent to find innovative solutions to surpass targets. Although employee surveillance software gained popularity with employers in the early days of the pandemic, it is important to weigh this approach with the kind of workplace culture you want to cultivate. As Atlas VPN COO Rachel Welch said to CNBC, “managers should go into remote work conditions with trust and empathy, not with fear and close monitoring.”

5. Adapt management styles to remote working models. The same oversight of workers that typically takes place in the office is not possible when workers are dispersed. Micromanagement is also often viewed negatively and elicits unintended consequences that impact the organization. Businesses can offer managers training to help them adapt their approach to remote teams to ensure that team members are engaged and supported in their job.

The technology advantage

Modern recruitment technology solutions include all of the features companies need to support productive teams. Technology features contributing to high productivity from remote employees that buyers should look out for in a recruitment solution are: 

  • Integrated chat capabilities and easy sharing with external stakeholders
  • A single source for teams to access the latest candidate data from anywhere
  • Consolidation of tasks in one platform so that team members do not need to toggle between tech solutions
  • Performance monitoring and day-to-day activity management
  • Strong security to protect data

Remote working is here to stay

Leaders need to continually review and revise their management styles to keep teams motivated regardless of whether they work in the office or remotely. Even with high vaccination rates and offices setting timelines for employees returning to the office, it is clear that some form of remote working will be a permanent part of the workforce. Ignoring its presence today will only lead to more costly issues down the line.

Deploying recruitment technology like Manatal’s ATS allows remote recruiting teams to simplify hiring processes, take advantage of trends like virtual recruitment and hiring quickly, and make better quality hires from anywhere they choose to work.

Schedule a demo and then start a 14-day free trial here to see how Manatal can improve the capabilities of remote teams.

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