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20th Aug, 2020

Daniel Youds
Daniel Youds
Job Title
Solutions Director

COVID-19 has forced organisations to take a leap of faith that they may never have made in a ‘normal’ environment. The fact businesses have maintained operations and revenue with their staff working remotely is something that leaders could not have envisaged six months ago.

Despite the challenges created by the coronavirus, organisations have also been presented with the opportunity to evolve, while gaining a new perspective to inform future decision making. Virtual working, and in turn virtual recruitment, presents numerous opportunities for talent acquisition strategies.

The creation of new recruitment processes

The change of perspective created by the pandemic has led to organisations questioning long-held beliefs about how to acquire and onboard talent.

If you had informed a hiring manager before the pandemic that they would recruit new employees without ever meeting them in person, they wouldn’t have believed you. If you had told a manager in February 2020, that soon they would integrate new employees through a combination of video meetings and online training rather than in-person tutorials and explanations, you’d have got the same reaction.

Not only has digital talent acquisition been successful over the past few months, in many cases organisations have found remote hiring and onboarding to be more efficient than their previous processes.

Arranging remote interviews is much simpler than fitting in multiple face-to-face conversations, leading to a faster hiring process. Virtual assessments save candidates’ time and travel expenses. We’ve seen how virtual screening measures and the removal of candidates needing to prove identity in-person can reduce the process from days to hours.

The same goes for onboarding. By setting up information centres to help onboard new candidates, information and solutions to problems are at their fingertips, rather than requiring them to wait until a manager or colleague has the time to answer their query.

Efficiencies are already driving permanent organisational change. We have spoken to clients who want to continue to use our full portfolio of face-to-face and virtual assessment processes once social distancing measures come to an end. This is down to the positive impact of the virtual elements of the process on both candidate engagement levels and hiring manager participation.

While some face-to-face aspects of talent acquisition will return at the pandemic’s end, there will undoubtedly be a greater number of organisations reaping the benefits of virtual recruitment processes.

Talent distribution

The widespread adoption of remote working will also have a profound impact on the availability of talent. Organisations have previously been limited to hiring employees who are able to travel to their place of work. This led to both talent and job opportunities concentrated in London and other large cities.

Virtual recruitment and remote working means employers and employees can now find their perfect match without the limitation of location. Organisations now have access to nationwide and - if they want to cast their net as far as possible - even global talent. As well as productivity and performance gains from sourcing the best talent, employers can also reduce costs, with remote working removing the need for higher salaries to cover employees’ cost of living and commuting expenditure.

In addition, employers will find that not only are they getting the best talent, but their new employees are more energised due to a better work-life balance, and gain productivity through saving time and energy by avoiding the grind of a daily commute.

The rise of virtual working also links with wider economic and social strategies. The Social Mobility Foundation’s 2019 Social Mobility Index found that just 31% of people living in north east England felt there were good career progression opportunities where they lived, compared with 74% in the south east and 78% in London. Remote and virtual working can help to reset this balance.

This coalesces with the government’s current mantra of “levelling-up” the UK’s regions, with talented employees now able to work remotely rather than relocating to a large city to find opportunities which support their ambitions. In turn, by remaining in their local area, they will also boost the local economy.

Similarly, greater numbers of remote workers chimes with the increasing focus on protecting the environment and reducing emissions. Fewer commuters making daily journeys to workplaces will help the UK to achieve its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The future is virtual

There will be some organisations who aim to go back to “the way things were” once the pandemic passes. This is a mistake.

While there are certainly some pre-pandemic practices which should return, the most successful outfits will be those combining the best of both worlds. The pandemic has shown that virtual works, and should now be a vital part of your talent acquisition strategy.

Find out more about virtual recruitment from the Reed Talent Solutions team, get in touch today.

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