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Will the traditional recruitment branch-based structure be a thing of the past?

As many of us know, working in multi-site recruitment businesses often means being assigned to a branch/office and often to a team. You might have geographical boundaries and, in each branch, consultants are dedicated to their portfolio of clients.

Since the onset of COVID our traditional structure has been challenged. Now that we are not based in the branch, we seem to be recruiting roles for any location and any client. This has brought about a true “one for all and all for one” approach internally along with a new sense of camaraderie within the teams and around the country. Importantly, our clients are embracing this concept too. We are no longer as constrained by a client’s perception of how it should be done and from where. They too have realised that flexibility is key and that long held traditions needed to be questioned and either modified or replaced with a new level of thinking.

So, will we ever go back to the way it was? I don’t honestly think we can or should, but what will life be like in the post-COVID recruitment world? What will the “office” actually look like?

We know we can be more productive not spending hours travelling back and forward to our offices. We know our candidates would also prefer to not travel to our offices. We know we don’t need to use reams of paper for registration, we can do it all online. We know that we don’t need to be based in a geographical territory to recruit for clients in that area. On the other hand, we know that we miss the human interaction of being with our colleagues. Some of us even miss getting into our corporate attire, rather than just the just top half of it! What does this all mean for our traditional structure?

What we will need to do once we are in the clear from COVID is provide options… and many of them.

It will be important to maintain some level of office time to provide that essential environment where people can connect, communicate and have fun. A place where we provide coaching, a place to gain insights, often by listening to how others talk to a client or sell a job and the benefits to a candidate. This simply can’t be achieved without sharing the same space.

However, we can now offer far greater flexibility. Gone are the days where we must be front, centre, and present in person on a daily basis (interestingly staff absenteeism through sickness or other causes has plummeted during COVID). We can offer the ability to work from home for those who prefer it or office space for those who need it. We may see a blend of people who would like to do a couple of days in the office and the rest of the week out visiting clients or working from home.

We will rationalise the size of the office space needed, providing the ability to reinvest saved costs into further training and development and technology.

We’re also questioning the need for branch geographical boundaries or in fact are we better serving our clients by having Subject Matter Experts who are siloed for a business stream? It makes sense now we know we don’t have to be in a particular geographic area to service the needs of that client.

Once we can get back in front our clients it would simply require proper planning to ensure the visit schedules are maintained.

One thing has become crystal clear, our technology is paramount as we look to find further ways to become more efficient and effective in our roles. Once the “light bulb appeared” we realised we didn’t need to perform our jobs the same way we’ve done for many years, we started to question everything we do with the aim of seeing if there was a better, faster way. We are finding it easier now to say “yes we can”, however we need to weigh up the cost of such and question if we are to invest in the technology needed to support it. So, it is a bigger and brighter world now with many more options to consider along with the decisions on how best to structure our business upon our return. One thing is certain, our view of the “office” and what it represents will never be the same again.

Kylie Heffernan has over 20 years industry experience across a broad range of sectors.  Kylie is the newly appointed General Manager of Horner Recruitment, a long-term corporate member of the RCSA which this year celebrates its 45th year in business.

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