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Remote work is no substitute for company culture

Posted on 29/10/2020
by Nick Boulton

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I recently read an interesting article about the future of recruiting and how COVID-19 will transform hiring. There were some extremely salient points, and I think in part a lot of what was written was true. But what concerns me is that we haven’t felt the full effect of the pandemic and what these changes actually mean to businesses.

My take on a few of the topics was slightly different: 

  • Virtual recruitment is here to stay

I agree (in one way or another…) But I see trouble ahead. What will companies do when they start to haemorrhage staff, staff who have never met a colleague, a team mate, a manager or owner/CEO face-to-face? Or even set foot in the office? 

Believe me, it’s starting to happen already.

Virtual hiring will create a whole different category of “candidate”, one who doesn’t necessarily care about culture, because they have never been introduced to the company culture. They have never felt part of the company, and they’ve only ever worked remotely.

Could they be the next ‘contractors’ once IR35 takes full effect next April?

How do we humanise the onboarding and integration process, and build in company culture? That will be the big test for the world of remote work. 

  • Recruiters will set the standard on Diversity and Inclusion 

This is absolutely correct and with the ever changing “office” landscape, I think opens the door to firms being able to grow and nurture much more diversity in the workplace. Recruitment partners need to be held accountable to how they are facilitating this.

BUT, for me this comes with a big warning sign! 

Companies have paid lip service to this for many years without actually making any impact on it. Why? Because they don’t invest the time, effort or capital to hire, train, support and promote this within their business. Many say they do, but in reality it’s not implemented company-wide or with a long-term point of view. 

Unless you have company-wide programmes where every hiring manager is on the same page and hiring the best candidate for the job, rather than the best skillset, this will never change.

How can you expect an industry like technology that is notoriously bad at hiring a diverse workforce to suddenly hire teams of women? You need to offer opportunity, increase headcount to accommodate growth and invest for the future, not just the present.

Flogging your recruitment partner about diversity means absolutely nothing unless your business actually hires, trains and encourages this demographic. Business must understand they are nurturing the next generation of female talent and leaders. It’s a tough concept for many businesses to actually implement, especially when they are working to tight deadlines, budgets and demanding investors.

But the point that resonated most with me and one that we have been focused on improving over last couple of years has been:

  • Brand and Marketing

What does this actually mean to us as a company. In short, what does Client Server stand for?

For far too long, agencies have had a terrible reputation both with their staff and customers. At Client Server, we have worked extremely hard over many years to try and create the best environment for our staff, a hard balance in a commission-led sales environment, but one that we are constantly working on. 

In the last 10 years, we have changed beyond recognition. All changes - without exception - have been to the benefit of our staff.

So far, during this crippling pandemic, we have not made a single person redundant, have moved an entire workforce to have the ability to work from home, have created a safe supportive environment to work in, and are working on a number of initiatives to help support our people going forward.

But now is not the time to stand back and pat ourselves on the back. Things are going to get worse before they get better and I think it’s vital that we build an even stronger community around our brand and business. 

We need a brand that helps to support people but also one that allows teammates  to flourish and succeed.

Let’s be honest: All of these things are wonderful to have, but utterly irrelevant if you don’t have a business that is successful and able to survive these turbulent times. 

So the bottom line is: hire people who can perform in any environment, I just hope ours is one where they actually enjoy being and feeling like they can succeed. That would be a future to be proud of. 


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