Remote-first workers: how businesses must adapt to attract the best talent
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

COVID-19 has undoubtedly caused a huge range of challenges for businesses across the country – but not everything about this pandemic has to be seen as a negative for companies. One thing that it has shown is that many roles can actually be done remotely, without the need for a member of staff to come into the office.

It may well be the case that remote working is finally going to become very mainstream, and this has led to the idea of ‘remote-first’ businesses – companies primarily made up of remote staff. This can have a huge number of implications, perhaps notably cost. It removes the need for expensive offices and lightens companies finances enormously.

But if your business is going remote-first, there are plenty of things that you will still need to think about; not least, how you will attract staff and keep them happy in the changing working landscape. Here we take a look at how companies should adapt to attract talent for a remote-first business.


Offer useful perks

The first thing to think about here is that remote staff are typically looking for something a little different to workers who are happy to work in an office. Flexibility is key to remote staff, but they also want more from their working environment. Consider the fact that in an office environment you might offer a range of perks: carpools, cycling schemes, free tea and coffee, fresh fruit etc.

You, therefore, need to be doing everything you can to incentivise remote staff too. Homeworkers could benefit from businesses providing them with office equipment such as an ergonomic chair, or a work laptop. You could go further and offer things such as gym memberships or work perks memberships.  This is actually an important point for those considering a more permanent move to remote working. They must ensure that they have a healthy working environment. Making do with inferior equipment will ultimately lead to more long term health issues.


Wellness and Mental Health


Ensure remote working is not a career drawback

It is important to understand that many people who like the idea of working remotely can be put off the concept because they think it will hinder their career. It has typically been the case that companies have not been so good at keeping track of or reward the hard work put in by remote staff. This is something that has to change in a remote-first environment.

It is up to managers and those in positions of power in remote-first businesses to closely track and monitor the successes of staff, as well as finding ways to analyse performance. Remote staff may be working very hard and wish to progress in the company, so it is up to managers to notice this.


Bringing teams together can be an event

If your company is going to have a large number of staff members who work remotely, it is important to bring them together on occasion. There is still a lot to be said for shared social interaction. It can help with team bonding and create a better atmosphere in the business, which can ultimately be a huge boost to productivity.

There are already examples of companies who are choosing to find ways to connect their remote staff after lockdown.

“Since COVID-19 we have seen a rise in the number of businesses looking to book venues,” says the team at Best Conference Venues London “whether it is for training, celebration, meetings, or staff days, a high prestige venue can really help to motivate teams and encourage staff to give more to their company”.


Look for the right behaviours

You also need to consider changing your interview process. Many people look at the benefits of remote work and think that it would be positive for them. However, not everyone is cut out of for this kind of change. When you are recruiting for candidates you need to really think about the sorts of behaviours that these members of staff exhibit, and consider whether it is going to be right for the business.

Remote staff need to understand how to get on with work without supervision. They must be trusted to motivate themselves through their working day. It can be the kind of thing that is suited to workers who are typically happy to work alone. But this might not be the best solution for those who thrive in a team atmosphere.


Final thoughts

Post-COVID-19 businesses might be more willing to make changes to the way that they operate. As long as they perceive that there are enough benefits.

It has been essential to embrace remote working as a consequence of the pandemic. This has enabled most companies to trial it and establish whether it is right for them to consider remote working as a longer-term solution.

It is important to understand, however, that not all companies will retain remote working as an option. For some it is impractical and for others, being in an office, working in a team and having the office infrastructure around them, helps to improve productivity significantly more than working from home does.

However, we can still see remote working benefits, even if it is to support the employees in times of need. When children are off school or ill while being at home to receive a delivery or meet a tradesperson and during periods of bad or dangerous weather. As we now know that people do have the capacity to do a good day’s work remotely.

One final word of caution on this topic. Working within the office, brings people together, socially interacting, collaborating and communicating. We must monitor the health impact on remote workers closely. The early signs are already showing a significant increase in mental health-related issues arising from the lockdown. Remote working could mean significant isolation for some people. This is an area that isn’t given as much consideration as perhaps it should be when discussing this subject.

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Annie Button

Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer and recent graduate. Annie has written for various online and print publications, she specialises in business, recruitment and career development.

Is Covid-19 causing unsafe remote working?
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

With countries across the world under lockdown due to Covid-19, businesses large and small are having to completely rethink and revolutionise their standard working practices. This has caused many to embrace remote working, and there is even the suggestion that this change is likely to be far more long term – as when things get back to normal, companies will have gotten used to the benefits of remote working.

Many businesses with remote workers have had to struggle to quickly find new ways of working – including incorporating new technologies and collaboration tools to allow staff to continue to work effectively.

However, while this has created great opportunities to find new ways of working, there are issues with it too. The speed at which the crisis occurred meant that many businesses may not have had the time to ensure that all of their employees are working from home as securely as possible. Cyber threats targeting home workers are on the rise and it’s important that business leaders are alert to the latest risks. Here we take a look at some of the key cybersecurity issues affecting remote workers.


A rise in remote desktop protocol adoption

One of the most widely used tools that remote workers have embraced is remote desktop protocol (RDP). RDP allows remote users to access the desktop of an office computer or server that’s located at another location, meaning that they then have access to all of the tools, apps, software, and files to be able to perform their job. RDP is commonly used by IT departments in order to manage and provide assistance to users across an organisation.

However, there is a huge problem in that poorly secured or unprotected RDP endpoints can provide easy access for hackers. Far too many organisations are using RDP in a way that leaves them vulnerable to cybercriminals who could remotely access a device and steal data.


Remote connections can be vulnerable

Vulnerabilities with the remote access tools used by organisations can create additional problems for security teams, meaning it is vital to keep systems and tools patched.  One of the most well-known vulnerabilities in RDP, for example, is Bluekeep – first discovered by Microsoft in May 2019.

The company did release a patch for the bug at the time, but it is likely that many organisations that were not utilising remote connectivity at the time did not install it. This could mean that if those organisations have now begun using remote connections, they could be vulnerable.

Organisations that are worried about the security of access controls are advised to commission an independent remote working security assessment to help identify and address risks.


Accessing systems through unsecured devices

Another danger is the fact that employees working from home may be using unsecured devices in order to access data. In the office, employees most often use a single device that has been properly configured. This also benefits from the protection of network-based security controls, such as a company firewall.

However, when working remotely, employees may utilise a much broader range of devices. These are not security hardened and don’t benefit from traditional perimeter defences. A single employee might use a desktop, a laptop, a mobile phone, and a tablet to carry out their work. This broadens the potential range of targets for criminals.


Using unapproved software

Remote working makes it more likely that workers could fall victim to problems with so-called shadow IT. Shadow IT refers to the use of software that has not been approved by the IT team. This is much more easily done on personal computers. Your IT team will have far less control over what software and apps you use.

Unapproved software might not sound like a major problem. But it may be the case that these programs contain vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could seek to exploit.


Insufficient training provided

With employees all working from home simultaneously and using multiple devices, monitoring the use of data can be very challenging. This puts an increased onus on individual employees to be doing all they can to stay secure. But there is a problem here too.

The speed at which companies were forced to change their working practice has meant that many did not get the chance to adequately prepare their staff for working at home. And without strict guidelines in place for how to work from home securely, employees can be at risk.

Organisations need to provide training as soon as possible to ensure staff are aware of the latest security risks such as:

  • Covid-19 phishing emails
  • Ways to better secure home networks by setting strong router passwords
  • How to add extra security to accounts with multifactor authentication


online traning


Final thoughts

Remote access solutions and collaboration tools can be key to providing the capacity and flexibility needed for employees to do their job. But this has resulted in businesses putting their trust in new, untried applications and also storing data in the cloud. If not done in the right way this can introduce vulnerabilities, encourage unsafe working practices and significantly increase cyber risk.

While there is much to think about in these challenging times, organisations cannot lose sight of their goals in terms of cybersecurity. 


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Annie Button

Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer and recent graduate. Annie has written for various online and print publications, she specialises in business, recruitment and career development.

4 strategies to get the best talent for your small business
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Did you know that unemployment rates in the UK are now at their lowest since the 1970s? This is obviously great news for the economy but presents a big challenge when it comes to hiring the best talent for your company. With the job market now being candidate-driven, finding the right people for your organisation can be harder than ever before.

We all know how important it is to have the best people working for you. With a talented and motivated team on board, your business stands the best chance of being successful. In that sense, employees are your most valuable asset, and care must be taken to recruit and retain them just as much as generating sales or managing finances.

So, are you doing all of the following?


Review your HR approach

A new recruitment drive is all very well but before you start thinking about hiring new employees, are you sure you’re doing everything you can for your internal staff retention and development? There’s little point hiring new people if they won’t stay with the business long enough for you to reap the benefits.

Business Coach and Online Educator Rob da Costa suggests the following talent retention incentives in one of his recent blog posts:

  • A focus on education
  • Salary increases based on merit
  • Flexible working conditions
  • Attractive benefits package
  • Pointing out future possibilities
  • Promoting from within
  • Investing in quality managers

Take a look at your team and ask yourself how happy and engaged your workforce is. Are you training them, promoting them, rewarding them appropriately? Do you have a positive company culture? In a job seekers’ market, it’s not just job seekers who are being harder to please. Your existing staff may consider changing jobs if they feel more valued elsewhere.


Invest in your company culture

Company culture is a big and growing topic that you cannot afford to neglect. It’s a magic formula that goes like this: Get your business model and your internal culture right and you’ll be surprised just how quickly word gets around that your company is the place to be.

When your candidates, employees, customers and the public interact with your business, what’s their experience? The way your company is perceived hinges on its internal culture and how this is managed. Everything follows from here – from team engagement and productivity to employee happiness, staff retention, and business success.

Identifying and developing your company’s brand doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to be done. Here are four things you should be doing:

  • Build authentic and meaningful recognition and reward into your company culture to meet your employees’ needs to be recognised for their efforts and achievements, and drive performance, staff retention and employee engagement.
  • Build strong teams that collaborate eagerly, communicate openly, trust each other’s views and are motivated to engage in best performance. Team building shouldn’t be a one-off activity, day-to-day reinforcement may be needed to create a collaborative work culture.
  • Build a flexible work environment, allowing and trusting your staff to choose when, where and how they work. This freedom coupled with personal accountability strengthens your work culture by encouraging happier, higher-performing teams.
  • Create a caring culture that genuinely looks after its employees and goes beyond the norm. X, Y, Z generations want to know that you will look after their best interests and care for them, especially in their hour of need. Employees now prefer healthy food and access to help and advice over a beer fridge or pool table.


Company culture


Recruit with precision and focus

If there are no internal candidates you can promote to the vacancy, outside recruitment is going to be your next step. Start with a clear job description and be focused on what exactly you are looking for in the right candidate, and what you are going to offer.

The customary ‘spray and pray’ efforts of yesteryear will no longer cut it in a job market where candidates can afford to be choosy. With so many other companies competing for the highest calibre candidates, your job advert needs to stand out for all the right reasons.

In order to reach the right people, you need to know where to find them. Social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, are an excellent place to start engaging with potential candidates. There are plenty of specialist organisations and software tools to help you with this. You could also partner with a recruitment consultant who will have the time and resources to dig deep into the job market on your behalf.


Ensure a positive candidate experience

Once you have shortlisted your best candidates for an interview, follow through with a carefully prepared and organised meeting. It’s amazing how many companies invest time and effort into recruiting candidates, yet blow their chances on the day. A good candidate will know if they’re being fobbed off with an ad hoc interview.

A negative candidate experience is unlikely to lead to the result you are seeking. Worse still, a disappointed candidate may share his experience on online platforms. Poor feedback may discourage others from joining your company and negatively impact on your brand.

According to recent figures, a positive experience will make the job candidate about 1/3 more likely to accept your job offer. You are selling your company, so you should put your best people in front of the candidates that you want to impress. Confident, ambitious job seekers will have plenty of other opportunities on the table, so do your best to woo them.


Written By Annie Button


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Annie Button

Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer and recent graduate. Annie has written for various online and print publications, she specialises in business, recruitment and career development.

How to attract the best talent in a candidate-short market
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Does your business have a recruitment plan? Sensible preparation could help you over the line in the dash for talent as we find ourselves in a candidate-short market.

New research by the Korn Ferry Institute predicts a major recruitment crisis with a significant future shortage of skilled workers. The study estimates that by 2030 the global talent shortage could reach 85.2 million people, costing companies trillions in lost business opportunities.

The United States financial services sector is projected to suffer the most, while European financial centres, like the UK and Germany, could struggle to retain their global positions due to the looming skilled-talent shortage.

Strategic action to address this is essential and it should start now. Business leaders who move talent acquisition to the top of their agenda will be in the best position to compete for scarce talent in the future.

In this article, I’ll be looking at what businesses can do to attract talent in a candidate-light market.


Talent Attraction


1. Consider in-house recruitment or outsource to a specialist recruiter

Agency recruitment isn’t always all it is cracked up to be. For a start, how can an agency know everything about your business? Deciding who should handle your recruitment isn’t an easy decision and there are pros and cons for seeking talent yourself or using an outside recruiting team that is dedicated to looking after your recruitment needs.

One of the biggest arguments for keeping recruitment in-house is to avoid huge recruitment fees. Mike Knivett, MD at Artemis Marketing, found using external agencies costly and not always successful in finding exactly the right candidate.

“We decided to bring recruitment in-house and hired a specialist on a part-time basis to help us. Since our recruitment specialist, Caroline, has been on board we have successfully recruited some amazing people who are exactly the right fit for us. Caroline has been able to work closely with us to really understand our culture and business needs.”

If you do decide to use an agency, it is a good idea to partner with one that has a high level of specialism suited to your business needs. This should at least ensure you get access to the right pool of talent. By working with the same recruiter, they can also get to know you and your business and ensure that there is a good cultural fit, in addition to having the right skills and experience.


2. Use social media to reach out

Social media is being used like never before in the race to find talent. Building your reputation online is by far the easiest way to reach the talent pool of the future. Millennials and Gen Z will soon become the biggest cohorts in the labour market.

Both groups embrace social media as their main form of communication. Millennials tend to use Facebook and Instagram, while Gen Z also uses Instagram, they also watch YouTube and communicate via Snapchat. Be mindful though, that social media is great for communication and establishing your brand, but not always as a stand-alone job advertising media.

See more about how Millennials and Generation Z use social media here.


3. Develop talent from within

70% of respondents to a Global Human Capital Trends survey by Deloitte cited recruitment as a critical issue when it comes to effective growth. High rates of employee-initiated turnover, low unemployment and the accelerating adoption of automation, which is creating intense demands for technical skills that don’t exist in today’s workforce, are making the job of finding qualified talent harder.

If talent shortage predictions are true, businesses will need a robust training and development programme to teach the skills they need in business. In fact, there are already enough talent shortages across more than 500 recognised skillsets to warrant adopting a fresh approach to attracting and retaining staff.

Internal talent mobility isn’t a new idea, but it is an area that isn’t tapped enough. According to Deloitte, reskilling an internal hire can be done for as little as one-sixth of hiring an external candidate. Emphasizing internal promotions illustrates to your employees they have a future in your business. This will go a long way in addressing the talent shortage and improve staff retention.

The national apprenticeship program and levy are all designed to encourage businesses to recruit ‘out of education’ and look outside of the obvious skillsets, in order to address similar issues. Expect to see this type of strategy become central to most larger organisations growth plans in the future.


4. Set up an employee referral system

You may not realise it, but your employees are an untapped resource when it comes to finding new talent. Your employees have an established network of friends and associates. They understand your business and are in a position to filter potential recruits to you with the appropriate skills and competencies. This could be one of your best recruiting tools.


5. Invest in culture

Your business will only become a magnet for talent if potential candidates hear good things about you. Salaries are no longer enough in isolation to entice the best people. Talented individuals are looking for companies with a strong and positive culture.

Things like Corporate Social Responsibility, business ethics and a caring and supportive environment are increasingly important and often mean more than salary. Wellbeing programs and robust learning and development opportunities are also on the list of must-haves that candidates are looking for in a company.

The future shortage of talent isn’t an industry-specific problem. Whatever your business, whatever the sector, you should be identifying business strengths to ensure you can attract candidates ahead of your competitors. You will, of course, also need to work hard at retention strategies too, which means an increasing focus on culture.

Ignore the recruitment problem and your business will suffer. The digital age means businesses with poor culture are being exposed like never before.


About the Author:

Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer and recent graduate. Annie has written for various online and print publications, she specialises in business, Recruitment and career development’.

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Annie Button

Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer and recent graduate. Annie has written for various online and print publications, she specialises in business, recruitment and career development.

Will Employee Engagement Save the Hospitality Industry From Brexit?
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Businesses in the hospitality sector have every right to be worried. At least a quarter of the 3 million people working in the hospitality industry are EU nationals, according to a report by KPMG. The sector is a labour-intensive contributor to the British economy and many hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes across the UK are already reporting that they are finding it harder to recruit staff.

At a time when the hospitality industry is actually doing quite well, could Brexit take many businesses in the sector from boom to bust? There’s little doubt that businesses in the sector will need to adapt. So, what can they do right now to fight the Brexit recruitment disruption?


What Brexit means to the hospitality industry

The hospitality sector stands to face a shortfall of 60,000 workers per year. Post-Brexit recruitment in Britain’s fourth biggest industry is a key issue.

As well as the issue of recruitment, the hospitality sector also faces challenges with its supply chains. The Brexit-induced drop in the value of sterling has contributed to higher costs on imported produce. Businesses are already adapting their supply strategies, sourcing more foods produced in Britain. But, procurement planning is another big issue for hospitality.

As well as setting out plans for potential supply chain disruption, the industry needs to focus on building an engaged and motivated workforce without relying on immigrants from the EU. Improving employee engagement could prove part of the solution to the recruitment crisis.


What is employee engagement?

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), “employees who have good quality jobs and are managed well, will not only be happier, healthier and more fulfilled, but they are also more likely to drive productivity, better products or services and innovation.”

Employee engagement is a workplace approach focusing on the emotional commitment employees have to the organisation and business goals. It essentially drives the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs and the effort they put into their roles.


Company Culture


Why employee engagement is crucial for the hospitality sector

Employee engagement is important in all sectors, but it is more vital in the services and hospitality industries than in any other. In customer-driven sectors, staff are brand ambassadors. They are critical for creating a happy customer experience and improving customer loyalty.

Employees in hospitality roles are part of the lifeblood of the business. Brexit poses its challenges in the supply of labour. Existing employees will be faced with longer hours and have to work harder to fill the gaps. Employee engagement will help employees to feel they are appreciated and have a future in the organisation they are working in. It will also help uncover under-utilised skills.

High staff turnover is costly. It takes time and money to train a new recruit. It makes sense to invest in existing employees. Excessive turnover is disruptive and causes morale to plummet.


What do the best hospitality companies do to retain staff?

Last year, the uber-chic Firmdale Hotels group launched its Employee Engagement week. Without a guest in sight the group’s employees gathered across the group’s eight London hotels to network, upskill, learn and get enthused. The programme of events included inspirational talks, demos, information about company benefits, career advice and tips on building better relationships.

Speaking to hospitality magazine, The Caterer, Julia Murrell, director of people and development at Firmdale, said “I believe retention is driven around engagement. We have a diverse workforce so we have to think of new ideas all the time.”

Group operations manager, Anna Jackson, added, “We spend time on guest engagement, work on how to exceed expectations, how to turn that visit into a repeat stay, and we need to apply those principles to our team, too. We need to look at how we engage them from day one – make them feel special, understand their needs and meet those needs around every role and nationality, as we do with our guests. It is a people business after all.”


Employee engagement can’t be imposed. It’s all about creating a cultural shift. Here’s how:

  • Make work fun
  • Recognise employees with rewards
  • Offer ongoing training
  • Create a strong team environment
  • Encourage collaboration
  • Give your staff opportunities to develop
  • Let your employees know you value them
  • Share information
  • Give regular feedback about performance
  • Offer fair pay and competitive benefits
  • Reward creativity
  • Be open to employee feedback
  • Weed out toxic employees
  • Promote from within

Richard Branson says “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” In an industry with a high turnover it’s easy to become too focused on recruitment and forget about existing staff.

The hospitality sector has been heavily dependent on immigration. To weather the recruitment storm, hospitality businesses need to prioritise employee engagement and retention now more than ever. Hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars need to attract UK workers and keep them. Employee engagement is just a part of the answer for future-proofing the British hospitality landscape.


About the author

‘Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer and recent graduate. Annie has written for various online and print publications, she specialises in business, Recruitment and career development’.
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Offering support for both recruiters and on-site HR workforces, Smart Recruit Online helps businesses find and hire the best talent more efficiently. To see how SRO can improve your talent acquisition, campaign management, and candidate screening workflows, book a demo today. 

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Annie Button

Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer and recent graduate. Annie has written for various online and print publications, she specialises in business, recruitment and career development.

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