Covid 19 has forced companies across the world to leave the office behind and embrace working from home – catching many organizations completely off guard. Morning conference room meetings are replaced with Zoom, business travel replaced with emails, and water-cooler chats replaced with instant messenger.
When it comes to industries that have been negatively affected by the pandemic, the Executive Search world is no exception. Travel bans and stay-at-home orders have turned some of the regular tactics – like face-to-face interviews and local networking events – into Mission Impossible.
An industry tasked with finding your “next-generation talent” has done very little to prepare itself for that next generation. Executive recruitment firms need to adapt. And adapt quickly.
The future of business is digital, and the future of recruitment is distributed.
The central office space, with high overhead and dyed-in-the-wool processes, is a thing of the past for search firms – which now require an aggressive “Distributed Teams” model. This allows for more time, money, and effort to be spent on engaging with the right talent – many of whom now expect to be using digital tools to engage with YOU.
This can be quite a radical change, but it’s a necessary one. The distributed work model can bring significant advantages to agencies and clients alike:
- Global Reach. By not relying on local offices, consultants can be based anywhere – with no geographical restrictions. If leveraged correctly and aggressively, this network infinitely widens your talent pool of candidates and their networks.
- More Candidates, More Quality. A distributed work approach eliminates in-person interviews and the routine of meetings with potential candidates (and for the better!). By relying more on video conferencing and other digital communication channels, the barrier for entry is lowered for qualified individuals. This should allow companies to see more diverse candidates and make it easier for “passive candidates” – often the talent that clients are most interested in – to enter and engage in a recruitment process.
- Market Agility – Follow the Money. When your head office is in New York with a focus on Financial Services, a problem on Wall Street is a BIG problem for your business. An important benefit of a distributed model is the ability for knowledgeable search firms to easily diversify.
You are not locked to any one location or even a specific industry sector. You can strategically chase the talent and constantly refine your focus.
We’re seeing companies of all sizes experiment with the “new normal.” IBM’s new CEO, for example, told analysts that they were able to move 95 percent of its employees into being productive from home in a matter of weeks, and many tech firms – seen as leaders in progressive HR practices – are not rushing to get back to the office. Many of them, like Twitter, will never go back.
One of the world’s most successful companies has been practicing this for several years now. Automattic — the company behind WordPress, powers nearly 70% of all websites. It has more than 2,000 employees scattered across 70 plus countries with a current valuation over $3 billion USD. The company does not have an office (or own any office space) with all employees collaborating almost exclusively online. Automattic’s CEO says this model significantly reduces micro-management, raises productivity, increases employee creativity, and allows for more flexible strategies.
According to a study by IBIS World, the average Executive Search Firm based in the USA has 30 employees, with the largest being around 2,000. That’s a lot of overhead.
“Never let a good crisis go to waste,” as the adage goes, certainly applies to the turbulent situation we are facing today. Those that refuse to modernize and adapt will fall too far behind to ever catch up. Search firms need to use this moment to embrace digitalization – and build a new business platform that offers clients a more agile solution for hiring high-quality candidates across today’s vast global marketplace.
The future of work in the post-pandemic world will not look the same. Don’t be the one that resists the change – embrace it.