What we have learnt by working from home.
It has been quite amazing that technology has allowed us to up sticks and move our entire business operations overnight yet the most mobile of resources, people, have had to make the biggest adjustments. We’ve plugged into the same networks with access to the same data and we operate from the same phone numbers as we did pre pandemic. We quickly replaced casual conversations next to the coffee machine with virtual coffee mornings, quizzes and even Friday night at the virtual Carrington West Arms. So why did it take us longer to adjust when everything was in place for us to work in exactly the same way as we did before?
Lead Consultant and experienced rail and engineering recruiter, Oliver Gooch, talks about how he has successfully navigated working from home and what aspects of his new regime he will take back to the office with him.
“My approach to working from home has been to stick to the same routine and basic structure of my normal business day in the office. I’ve stuck to my core business hours and instead of a commute I make sure I use the time I would’ve been in the car to take a short walk or achieve a task at home. I am also lucky enough to have a dedicated working space so I can be away from domestic distractions.
The main difference in my working day is not what I am doing but how I am doing it. My interactions with clients and candidates had to take on a different meaning during the early weeks of lockdown. My calls always started by approaching the elephant in the room and acknowledging that the pandemic has affected everyone. I took more time to enquire about personal and professional challenges. As recruiters, we are the position to offer practical advice based on what we can see is happening in the market. Now is the time to impart that advice rather than simply offer up solutions to immediate hiring needs.
My relationship with my clients and candidates has definitely evolved over the past few months as a result of having more time to talk to them. With more candidates entering the market we have received more calls and CVs from job seekers and it was important that we take the time to understand their needs so we can best place them in roles that meet their criteria from here on in. It is likely that the recovery period in the rail sector will be a very busy time for us as major infrastructure projects resume. Candidate care is especially important, as everyone needs to be prepared to step up a gear.
In terms of adjusting our internal goals and objectives as a team, we have taken a two-pronged approach. Our basic medium to long term objectives have not changed pre-pandemic and won't as we enter a recovery phase. This has gaven me a clear vision to work to. The team meets online every Monday to set daily and weekly objectives and these were often slightly different to how they would have been before the pandemic. When first lockdown happened, we set ourselves a mission to provide the best service of any recruiter during the pandemic, to be supportive and to respond to the needs of our clients and candidates however different, new or unusual they are at this time. With that in mind, we set targets for every day whether it is aftercare, market intelligence gathering, working on open vacancies or simply phoning our contacts and asking how they are.
Managing a team remotely has not been without its challenges but importantly another aspect of the job that didn’t and hasn’t changed is training. We have set aside time to spend with the team collectively and individually to ensure training and mentoring programmes have stayed on track. I also allocate time for my own learning and development and this helps me remain motivated on the days when I may miss face to face interaction with my colleagues.
What lessons has Covid-19 and working from home taught me?
Carrington West has proved it has an amazing ability to be agile and adapt to the circumstances. There has always been a focus on the wellbeing of all employees, but that has been proved to be the backbone of the company over the past few weeks and the reason we have fared so well. Going forward, as an organisation I have no doubt we will continue to improve and adapt our policies as we now have the proof that they work.
Personally, I would say I am more disciplined in my approach to time management. I think I probably set more targets and I never finish a day without writing my to do list for the next morning. I also appreciate the small interactions we have when we physically work alongside each other. Overall, my number one take out from this whole experience is to take time to ask people how they are, and really listen to the answer whether I am speaking with colleagues, clients or candidates. I also think I will be kinder to myself. I recognise the importance of taking regular breaks, stepping away from my home or office desk and getting some fresh air at some point during the working day.”