Coronavirus: Staffing Agency Remote Working

Blog Post Image: Coronavirus: Staffing Agency Remote Working

Coronavirus – Staffing Agency Options

The Coronavirus pandemic has forced staffing agencies to rethink their business. Remote working and flexible working used to be considered a way to boost an organization’s productivity. Now it’s clear there’s an insatiable appetite for remote working as staffing firms battle unprecedented lock downs, social distancing and economic intervention. Today with the Coronavirus pandemic, most staffing agencies and employers are frantically searching for a quick fix and solutions to immediate problems across in their business. There are some quick fix advanced technology services available such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Whatsapp group calls, Facetime and others. Finding an opportunity to think for a moment, staffing industry leaders need to stop, step back, rethink and reimagine their staffing agency business process. Are the technology solutions being chosen the right long term solution for your staffing agency? Or is now the time to move your business forward and completely rework your staffing technology stack?

Remote working could be beneficial and the saviour of your staffing agency, we’ve weighed up the pros and cons to help you decide how to best provide flexible working conditions for your recruiters. To survive and thrive beyond the Coronavirus pandemic, there are some tips to help you decide how to implement remote working. First of all, you need to educate yourself and your business. Visit the advice page from the American Staffing Association on Corona Virus or for British clients, the .ACAS Advice on Coronavirus. If you would help and advice on your technology, how to migrate and implement and integrate new technology in your staffing agency, we could help you overcome some of the challenges we’re all facing. Please get in touch with our experienced technology team Staffing Future.

Staffing Agencies and Employment

There’s going to enormous economic ramifications from Coronavirus or COVID-19. using our technology expertise, we’ve developed a job aggregator and job board for those looking for Covid19 Jobs The job board focuses on critical supply chain roles, medical front line, social care and volunteer roles, Layoff announcements are coming in by the minute, firms will be worried about folding and many people will be looking for employment during an especially challenging time politically, economically and personally. It’s increasingly likely that the US government will send money to every American to cushion the economic fallout. But even this substantial, debt-fueled action would only be a temporary solution. When the pandemic passes, those laid-off employees will need sustainable new jobs to come back to so they can get back on their feet offered. Jobs offered by good employers, serviced by great staffing agencies.

There are alternative, longer term focused business-focused solutions that aren’t getting the consideration they might deserve. Rather than give payments to individuals, there is a suggestion for the US government to develop a relief package to give federal loans to businesses on condition that companies keep workers on payroll while the economy is on its knees. This would be welcome news for Staffing agencies, employers and those in work as well as looking for work.

There are whole sectors of business that will be devastated by the new economic reality of the stay-home economy. There are also many others that will see demand for products and services skyrocket as more people are confined to their homes. Those businesses poised to excel during these social distancing measures are already taking steps to offset job losses in other sectors. We are seeing a huge pendulum shift in demand. Some staffing websites traffic are tanking, having dropped 20% in a week or so. Others are seeing similar traffic gains and job volumes increasing.

For example, in logistics, Amazon is seeing a spike in demand. Their world-class logistics capabilities are now keeping homes stocked with essentials. Amazon announced plans to hire 100,000 new workers and raise pay by $2 per hour. As many are on the cusp of losing jobs in sectors such as hospitality, restaurants and travel, Amazon could help bridge the gap for many people looking for work.

Most staffing agencies and businesses don’t have the hiring power of Amazon, but companies in industries that are especially valuable now—such as direct-to-consumer goods, food-delivery, online entertainment and subscription-based products and services, have an opportunity to aggressively hire more people to serve rising demand. Blue Apron, is another example that has seen it’s stock soar and they have responded by hiring too.

By giving relief to small and medium businesses, not just bailouts to the largest ones, the government can put economic development in the hands of companies that will continue growing the economy once this crisis passes. After all, US employees work in small businesses. In 2016, firms with fewer than 500 workers accounted for 99.7 % of those businesses. Firms with fewer than 100 workers accounted for 98.2 %and firms with fewer than 20 workers made up 89%.

What is Remote Working?

Remote working allows recruiters the freedom to work outside the confinements of your office environment. This could be working from home, a co-working space, on-the-go or in a park if they’re connected to wifi or their device network. Remote working is part of a wider concept called flexible working.

The root of flexible working relies on trust that your recruiters agree to work their contracted hours in a way that is most productive for them. They could work a traditional 9am-5pm ias they would n the office or, working remotely for part, or all, of the working week. It’s usually best to have some consistent time where everyone knows they can contact each other— for example, 10am-12am and 2pm-4pm – so you give everyone a little flexibility in their day whilst ensuring your team can work and collaborate effectively throughout their working day.

Normal examples of flexible working include compressed hours, start and finish times that are school-run-friendly or a ‘flexitime’ model so your recruiters can choose when their workdays start and finish based on client and candidate requirements. Working in an office last week was still completely normal for all staffing agencies and recruiters. So what are the pros and cons of working in an office environment and working in a remote office environment?

Working In Your Office

survey published by Microsoft highlighted, “73% of companies today rely solely on in-house employees” – but this is slowly changing. People tend to be more productive when they’re alone, not being hassled or interrupted but they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together”,  This is when staffing technology can help you achieve the balance you’re looking for and the best of both worlds in these challenging times. Think carefully how you can balance the pros and cons of both the office and remote working scenarios and include them in your action plan for your team:

Pros:

  • It’s easier to continuously develop a positive workplace culture aligned with your mission, vision and values when everyone is in the same locations and environments.
  • Being office based, allows your recruiters to work collaboratively, which can boost overall performance and teamwork.
  • New recruiters can shadow experienced recruiters, improving the onboarding and training process.
  • In the office, it’s easier to manage your recruiters’ time, keep them motivated and offer support when required.
  • Your recruiters learn by listening to their colleagues, observing best practice and improving performance and skills by osmosis.
  • It’s easier to witness and celebrate the achievements of your recruiters. Seeing success in person, rather than over the phone or reading data analytics, has much more more effect.

Cons:

  • An open office is often a loud and distracting environment which can negatively affect recruiter productivity.
  • The cost of renting office space is one of the largest ongoing costs for any staffing agency after the employees themselves., especially ensuring there is desk space for a growing workforce.
  • There’s a higher likelihood of injury: the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that office workers are 2 – 2.5 times more likely than non-office workers to suffer injury from a fall.
  • A large proportion of employees spend around an hour a day commuting. As well as the time commitment, there is also a considerable cost whether that is towards petrol or public transport.
  • You might start spreading Coronavirus to your colleagues and your staffing agency might not be able to physically operate next week let alone next month. Worse, some of your staff with asthma, existing medical conditions or advanced years could get very sick. The majority of people don’t have severe symptoms, and we all have a responsibility to stop that happening.

Remote Working

Most employees want choice and flexibility offered by working from home. None of us realised we may not have a choice soon. So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of remote working for staffing agencies now we are being faced with a stark reality we may have to operate remotely for some time?

Pros:

  • Advanced technology services can drive productivity and collaboration between team members. Applications such as Teamwork, Slack, Trello, Projects, Sharepoint, Google Drive, monday.com are all great tools if everyone who’s using them knows how to use them
  • Your colleagues will stay healthy and your staffing agency has a better chance of performing. It could even come out stronger than before the pandemic. Working at home can also inspire recruiters to think more laterally, giving them inspiration and time to recruit smarter 
  • They’re removed from day to day distractions and constant interruptions that happen in any dynamic, distracting office environment.
  • If you want to attract the next generation of recruiters, offering remote working options is considered a real perk and attractive work-life balance benefit.
  • When geography is less of a barrier, you can hire top recruiters in different parts of the country, widening your talent pool to find exceptional recruiters.
  • Reduce your office space by decreasing the number of full time desks required, helping to reduce your ongoing rental cost and overheads
  • As many as 3 out of 4 workers feel flexible working has a positive effect on their wellbeing.
  • Recruiters could feel less stressed when working from home as there’s a better work-life balance.
  • In these unprecedented times, they might appreciate support from loved ones if they need to pivot, focus on different roles in different sectors where there are still hiring opportunities
  • You can have weekly or daily online meetings between team members. Record and share what has been said and share with other colleagues.

Cons:

  • Recruiter isolation – working alone for lengthy periods can lead to isolation, which can be highly demotivating.
  • Remote working lacks direct personal contact. This may lead remote recruiters to work without the support they need.
  • With no direct supervision, there’s a risk for recruiters to take advantage and slack off.
  • If your recruiters don’t separate their work and home lives, they may end up working all around the clock and suffer considerable burnout.
  • Having the IT infrastructure in place to support the recruiter working remotely may require a complete systems overhaul.

The key is finding the right balance between advanced technology services in staffing that make commercial sense for your agency and mapping this to your business and activity flow. Staffing agency owners want recruiters to be efficient and as productive as possible, achieve a work life balance, maintain/increase productivity and protect the bottom line. Building a successful working culture is just one aspect of creating an exceptional staffing team. At Staffing Future, we are inextricably linked to staffing and recruiters being successful. We are often asked to come in help drive productivity, automate elements of the staffing process and drive frictionless activity. Staffing Future will do all we can to service and support staffing agencies using our technology expertise, staffing experience and technology partners in any way we can. Here are 6 written  tips to help you get the most of working remotely as well as this real life remote working demo:

1. Make yourself an “office” space
This is the spot where you will do your work. Make sure it’s comfortable enough to complete your tasks, but clean and organized so you can focus. If you can, it’s best not to make your working area your bedroom or main living room. This lets you trick your mind into thinking you are not just “at home”, but “going to work” and you can go back to a different area of your home for relaxation.

2. Create a “to-do” list every day
It sounds simple, but having a visible checklist of what you have to achieve will help stop you from being distracted and stay focused on your goals and output. This way, you can monitor progress, send your goals completed and achievements to your line manager at the end of each day. Even better, sending your goals to someone else to check the activity you’re working on is still the business priority will motivate you to achieve them and ensure they’re aligned with business goals.

3. Schedule activity
Try to block out large consistent periods of time for work, take breaks at regular intervals to keep you focused. Often, working from home allows you to take small breaks, such as going to get a coffee from the kitchen. However, it is hard to get things done when you’re constantly being distracted, or interrupted if you live with others. To maximise your productivity, set aside blocks of approximately 2 hours, and allow yourself 10-20 minute breaks between them.

4. Minimize distraction
If you are working from home, you will almost definitely working on a computer. It may be tempting to glance at YouTube, social media platforms or check the news etc but you will only end up procrastinating and being distracted from your task at hand. It is best to close all non-work related tabs during your “work blocks”. Instead, allocate times when you can check social media or the news as a reward system for completing your task or work block.

5. Leave the house each day
This may be difficult for those self-isolating due to Coronavirus or COVID-19, but if you can leave your house, try to each evening. Nothing will drive more crazy than being cooped up at home 24/7. A change of scene is healthy for you and you need to maintain your mental health as much as your physical health. Getting out and about will also help to break up the days. If you are asked to work from home and self isolate for a time, this is more critical than ever to maintain some sense of normality.

6. Take care of yourself and those close to you
Even if you are conscious of not being able to achieve your goals for the day, make sure you still take breaks to have lunch and exercise. If you are in fact ill, not doing so will only worsen your symptoms. Have a clear start time for the day (and mark this by getting dressed) and when to stop working. Communicate when things don’t go to plan and share where you’re up to with your projects regularly. Be proactive and update your line manager so they don’t have to chase you to make their life a little less stressful.

Innovation

Staffing agencies and businesses are used to pivoting quickly and adapting to change, experience that is especially crucial in a crisis. Many businesses call on subject matter experts, innovative thinkers and financial resources that can be immediately allocated wherever they are needed. At Staffing Future, we specialise in staffing technology services and help staffing agencies implement new technology stacks to increase ROI, productivity and drive business growth. Weeks before Congress passed its first COVID-19 relief legislation, business leaders were already stepping up. Staffing Future are equally challenged and determined to help existing clients and staffing businesses rise above this economic crisis and pandemic.

A notable example of this is the rapid pursuit of a COVID-19 immunization. Three separate biotech firms—BioNTech, CureVac and Moderna—made the news for making promising progress toward developing a vaccine. Many others are working on antiviral treatments to slow or mitigate the symptoms of COVID-19. The ability to bring a vaccine to trial at an unprecedented speed is an example of what businesses can do in a crisis.

If you do have time, watch these chillingly accurate words from Bill Gates in 2015 at Ted-X The Next Outbreak. We’re Not Ready His words ring true today now more than ever. 

It is everyone’s responsibility to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus. Stay up to date with the latest official guidance and advice. Protect those around you, including friends and family and colleagues, especially those in a high risk group or are less able to support themselves.

Staffing Future hope you remain unaffected by the virus and wish you and your colleagues good health. 

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