Working in a World without Walls
The Covid-19 quarantine, which required many employees to work from home has led the global workforce to the realization that we’re now working in a world that is one big office without walls, planet earth, the largest and least expensive workspace on the planet. For purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the US.
From a talent acquisition point of view, this is ‘the major milestone” in eliminating the competitive advantage of acquiring talent. This quarantine event begs the question of how necessary is it, that an employee must work in a centralized location to perform the job effectively and be a productive team member.
Over the last century, location mattered, it’s where we wanted to live or settle down with our families, where our kids attended grade school, and where we straddled the line between finding happiness and achieving a work/life balance. Many of us have relocated to different geographic areas to seek a better life, find affordability, enjoy ideal weather, and attend better schools. For most of us, these focal points were dependent upon where we landed a job opportunity.
We’ve hit the tipping point, the future of work moving forward has a new reality. This pandemic, for better or worse, has made it easier for employers to hire talent and has enabled talent to find work anywhere. It no longer matters where someone is physically located. Of course, there are always industry exceptions (eg. manufacturing and onsite healthcare), but in the corporate world, work just became a lot more flexible.
While remote working offers many cost-saving opportunities, it also poses challenges as we transition to a different model in which ‘local’ now means ‘nationwide’.
Employers: The Pros & Cons
Companies of any size now have a choice: Onsite vs Remote vs Telecommute or Open to All (ie Flex Location Policy)
Greater Access to Talent
Companies of any size now have realistic access to anyone in the US. US Talent pool now has many, many choices.
Scalability with Ease
Being a Fortune 100/500 company is no longer a competitive advantage. Any size company can compete in any town without a physical location or real estate.
Time zone coverage
Companies can now embrace 24/7 support.
Travel, relocation packages, mileage, meals, and entertainment may be a much smaller burden, or a non-factor moving forward.
‘Ping Pong Perks’ (eg onsite perks)
Leveraged to retain employees, build loyalty, and enable max productivity. Companies enabling employees to be remote ‘forever’, Ping Pong Perks (free food & drink, happy hours, laundry, gym memberships) no longer hold weight or value as a deciding factor; Remote perks are nice to have, but won’t be enough to draw & retain loyalty.
Location, Location, Location
No longer applies to the corporate world – companies can now hire anyone, anywhere, and scale companies without geo-restrictions.
Critically Important, must be able to separate the company from any other. Company Mission Must be Strong and Well-defined.
The opportunity to learn and grow/advance is more important than ever.
The caliber of the team and dynamic is still very important for attracting and retaining.
WFH has been proven
It Works, whether employers wanted to explore this avenue or not, these last few months since COVID restrictions were enforced have proven feasible.
If Employers fight it, they will lose.
The tipping point is here, the employee population (which exponentially outweighs # of employers) has many, many choices and will leave to work elsewhere.
In making decisions, employers must always ask themselves – What’s in it for the employee?
The second that becomes a secondary focus will be detrimental to the growth and success of the company
Being that employees can now WFH and/or WFA (work from anywhere) poses significant challenges around pay scale (pre-COVID, geographic location played a major factor in determining salary bands, cost of living adjustments, etc.) It will now be much more difficult to determine where someone spends their time (even if they have a home address).
Employee: The Pros & Cons
Location doesn’t always have an effect on our headspace, however now having a choice on where we reside and the flexibility to move anywhere at any time and maintain our jobs, certainly empowers us to have a more positive work/life balance. Giving us more control.
Being in a decentralized employment environment (ie ‘nomad’ status), should help normalize and even out pay discrepancies between urban/rural locales.
Challenges will arise based on employers encouraging onsite vs WFH/WFA.
The comfort level amongst the workforce will vary depending on the individual, which may create bias and discrimination in hiring decisions.
The Silver Lining in all of This
As we like to acknowledge, everything happens for a reason. Our hope is that today’s future of work, the ‘now’, will create more opportunities to grow, learn and succeed as we overcome this bump in the road. On a grand scale, whether you consider yourself an employer or amongst the talent pool, we all experienced and learned through this ordeal that compromise is the best compromise.