Is a more deliberate move towards remote work needed?
Many Cantabrians are familiar with having to make a quick switch to remote working. Our previous earthquakes pushed a lot of CBD based businesses out to the suburbs and business parks around Christchurch City, many of which have still not moved back to the CBD or do not ever intend to do so. Of particular interest was what happened during the time between leaving the CDB and moving into new premises: the remote working. For many companies, this was new territory and done out of reluctant necessity.
The recent nationwide lockdown has again seen a quick shift to remote working in Canterbury (albeit one that dwarfs the previous move prompted by the earthquakes). However, despite this Covid-19 forced move to remote working being on a much larger scale and a much smoother transition it has still been a reactionary move for many.
The question that I have is once the dust has cleared will companies move their staff in-house again as if the lockdown never happened?
With many companies having spent at least a month with their staff working remotely the potential benefits and challenges of a more deliberate remote working policy must surely be on peoples’ minds.
Being an IT recruiter I am in touch with many Canterbury-based smaller scale IT companies who are used to remote work. For them, the lockdown has been a confirmation that their ingrained remote working ability and policies are on the mark. For many other Canterbury-based companies I have spoken to, this sudden lockdown has caught them off guard. We are interested to see if post-lock down Canterbury begins to make a more deliberate move towards remote working (both permanent and occasional).
It seems that this feeling surrounding making a more deliberate move to remote working (or at least remote working capabilities) is something that is being felt the world over. A recent Gartner CFO Survey brought this to light suggesting that “Nearly Three in Four CFOs Plan to Shift at Least 5% of Previously On-Site Employees to Permanently Remote Positions Post-COVID 19”. I am not sure if those numbers would convert perfectly to Canterbury’s case however having spoken with a number of local CFOs I can confirm that a similar sentiment is definitely out there in the local market.
From their point of view, the cost benefits certainly warrant the move to permanent remote working for specific staff or teams. From a human capital point of view, the potential benefits are also vast. We already know from NZ based data that work/life balance and employer flexibility is in the top 3 things that employees consider important within the NZ IT sector. Being able to offer remote working ability can be a cost-effective way to attract top talent without always having to rely on using salary as a drawcard. It also gives employers the option to reduce the cost of office space (maybe just setting up some hot desks for people who occasionally have to be in the office) and the cost of parking. For employees, the cost of commuting can be quite significantly reduced and for some families that might mean reducing to one car only. There might be still some reluctance from some employers to let their staff work ‘unsupervised’ but if the reward system is not based on hours spent in the office but ‘actual output’ then performance is measurable without sitting right next to your employees. They feel more empowered, accountable, have a huge gain in flexibility to do their work when they are at their best and instead of sitting in rush hour traffic they can start the day by either taking care of family matters or their own wellbeing. Does this sound like a win-win outcome?
We are excited to see how companies choose to adapt moving forward.
Daniel Harte is the Senior Recruitment Consultant at Crescent Consulting, a loyal sponsor and supporter of Canterbury Tech for many years. Daniel specialises in technology recruitment, including Engineering and IT and he is also an associate member of the Canterbury Tech committee. Crescent Consulting is a full-service HR and Recruitment firm covering a wide range of disciplines including IT, Engineering, Office Administration, Accounting and Finance, Sales and Marketing, HR and Executive Appointments. Crescent also has a temp and contracting division catering for a large range of short term appointments.