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Ideas

Hybrid working: the holy grail for recruitment?

The Covid-19 pandemic brought about many changes to the way we live and work, and communities such as those at Quorum Park have had to adapt to find new patterns of working that suit customers, staff, and prospective new recruits alike. For many business owners, hybrid working may have felt as though the reality couldn’t live up to the ideal, but in this series, we’ll look at how members of the Quorum Park community have made hybrid working a permanent fixture for the benefit of all their stakeholders. First up is specialist recruitment agency NRG, and its sister business greenbean RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing).

As well as adjusting to the post-Covid world, in the early autumn of 2020, NRG and greenbean relocated to an open-plan space in the Neon building at Quorum Park after 40 years spread out over four floors in Newcastle city centre, where, as MD James Carss explains, the team largely worked between the hours of 9am and 5.30pm.

“The move was perfect timing for us as everyone was so excited to get into the new space after home-working for months, and for us at this point, it’s very difficult to see a return to that model of being in the office every day during traditional working hours”, James said.

“Hybrid working has become very important to many of our clients, and a lot of the candidates we place will want to know what the work from home policy is for any potential new role. Of course, for some sectors hybrid working isn’t appropriate, but generally, if a business demands everyone to be in office all the time, it doesn’t give the most positive impression of a happy place to work.”

James’ colleague Leanne Chambers, who is MD at greenbean agrees: “In our experience hybrid working fits well with staff across all age groups as it gives people choice and is more family friendly. We find it’s something most people are now looking for, so not offering it can be counter-productive.”

However, there was an element of trial and error to find a way of hybrid working that suited both businesses as they balanced the needs of their team with navigating changes in the sector that saw businesses of all types and sizes having to re-examine their recruitment strategies in light of the pandemic, the furlough scheme and various lockdown orders.

Leanne went on: “Thankfully, we were able to socially distance thanks to having more space at Neon, and this helped us encourage staff back to the office. We really needed some face-to-face engagement with our teams!”

James added: “Yes, recruitment is all about building good relationships. We need our teams to work together and being on one large single floor helps. Having people in the office to some degree, as opposed to full remote working, is really important for long term engagement, connectivity, staff retention and to maintain a strong company culture.

“Some roles, such as key leadership and sales positions, need a bit more visibility or demand more time in the office, but less face-to-face interaction is needed for others, and while some team members like to work in the office and so will still choose to be office based for a full five days a week. Others can really benefit from a couple of days at home.”

Both NRG and greenbean started with a fairly prescriptive hybrid working model based on three days in the office and two at home, with 60 per cent of the team in the office at any one time. And while a general 3:2 rule of thumb appears to be working well, the organisation is now more relaxed about its implementation.

“At first we were quite rigid about who was in and when, but everyone has adapted well and we’re now more relaxed about the 60 per cent figure”, James continued. “After all, for those in the early stages of their career, being in the office more can be preferable so they can learn from more experienced colleagues.

“Where we have invested a lot of time and energy is in creating really strong and structured internal communications processes. Hybrid working means internal communications has to be executed very well, because there are always some staff logging in remotely.”

And Leanne explained how Covid meant that some plans for the new office had to be changed completely: “We did originally plan to have a hot desk policy, but we have plenty of space so we’re now able to have dedicated desks instead, to accommodate the hygiene needs for good Covid prevention. It’s amazing really how much things have changed, as back in March 2020, we thought we were sending people home for just two weeks!”

James also finds that hybrid working allows for better planning. He said: “The 3:2 model is a popular one with us and many others because you can plan your working week in advance to get the most out of it. It means you can spend time with your colleagues when you are in the building, rather than locking yourself away in a meeting room to perhaps write a report, a task that could have potentially been completed at home.

“And while there is an ongoing impact of Covid in that it has restricted some socialising, we feel being based at Quorum provides lots of leisure and social opportunities for our staff.

“We have team members that use the PureGym and take part in the Tai Chi sessions, and at the appropriate time we want to make the most of the facilities and organise regular get-togethers and events to help maintain good internal engagement. It’s all the more important in light of hybrid working where we see less of each other.”

To find out more about roles on offer across the region in corporate services, technology, digital, and executive search and selection, visit nrgplc.com. For support with recruitment process outsourcing, visit greenbeanrpo.com.

Or to find out more about how being part of the Quorum Park community can support you to work most effectively post-Covid, visit quorumpark.com.