Written exclusively for TIMESTWO by Anna Baréz-Brown co-founder of Shine.
More so than ever, we’re reminded of how constantly changing the world is. Every day emphasises the need for flexibility, agility and, above all else, humanity.
Even for an industry which in recent years has become increasingly reliant on remote working, we are seeing the future of the workplace changing. Not only are recruiters situated in home offices, so are their customers. We have to look at how to cope with this new reality to make sure we’re supporting each other, and our networks, as best we can.
The recruitment industry has foundations in building trust. New customers need to know that along with their personal information being safe, their best interests are also being sensitively handled. Making sure your company is modelling best work-from-home practice is the first step towards helping your clients do the same.
At Shine, we have always worked remotely and by maintaining focus on our long-term goals and desired outcomes, we’ve been able to grow and flourish exponentially over the last seven years.
At the heart of it, our aim is to make business more human and this has been key to our success. Here are four ways you can help your recruitment company work to its full potential, remotely.
Make nurture your nature
Trust is forged by strong relationships. Social interaction is key. In the office, rapport develops gradually over a cup of tea in the kitchen or bumping into a colleague in the lift. These moments give people an opportunity to connect and senior leaders a chance to cultivate a collaborative and encouraging atmosphere.
Fortunately, technology provides countless creative ways of maintaining human connection. While e-mail is great for getting quick messages across, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in the use of video conferencing apps. Zoom, for example, was downloaded 2.13m times on 23 March, compared to 56,000 times two months prior.
Capture immediate thoughts post-meeting or when out for a morning walk with WhatsApp voice notes. Messages don’t need to be strictly business; make space for the social.
Planning is power
Business growth relies on keeping one foot in the present, with the effective running of the day-to-day, and the other a step ahead. A company’s people are its greatest resource, so think about how you can bring them on the journey.
On a basic level, it’s really not so hard to set up your teams to work well remotely. With good WiFi, a laptop and ways to access files, they can get the job done. However, technology doesn’t run a business, people do. That means giving consideration to personal situations impacting on colleagues. Make sure you regularly check in with how people are feeling; what they need more of, less of.
Really take the time to show appreciation and gratitude to your colleagues, especially during this difficult time, and you’ll be rewarded with loyalty.
In order to grow your company, you need to grow your people. Make sure you have regular discussions about their goals and interests, seeking ways to support them and, where possible, link these up with the evolved business strategy.
Even at a distance, workplace toxicity can get in the way of achieving our goals. Wherever there are people, there are toxins. The most prevalent ones are blaming and complaining, stonewalling and defensiveness.
Under pressure, whether due to external or internal factors, work, home life, or the news, we can all behave badly. Leaders, for example, often default to showing contempt. This includes cutting others down; it’s hostile, aggressive and undermining.
The first step is identifying your own toxins, finding a way of dealing with these and modelling self-awareness for your team. Encourage others to do the same, creating a space in which people can talk openly about their personal demons. Knowing where to start can be challenging. Offsites, leadership training or coaching are often the fastest route to self-awareness, and you will find virtual options for all of these services – you don’t need to wait to do them in person.
Global: The new normal
Recognise the difference between crossing chasms and climbing mountains: tapping into the potential of remote working takes small steps, and over time it can help your company grow without the overheads associated with physical offices.
With the basics covered (laptop, WiFi, etc.), it’s not so hard to imagine, from your personal desk in England, working alongside a colleague or customer in Germany or Australia. The potential scope of your long-term organisational goals becomes infinitely broader and more exciting.
As for us, our own learning from having a Shine team based across three continents is that when we need to be somewhere, (physically or virtually) we make it work. And there is no doubt our international network brings balance, diversity and strength to our team.
 Neate, R. Zoom booms as demand for video-conferencing tech grows. The Guardian. 31 March 2020.