Article: Remote-first model - Redistributing the talent landscape

Talent Management

Remote-first model - Redistributing the talent landscape

By remaining open to talent from anywhere, remote organisations democratise access to talent, levelling the playing field irrespective of geographical constraints.
Remote-first model - Redistributing the talent landscape

Historically, urban centres were hubs for talent attraction, driven by job opportunities and lifestyle aspirations. However, the events of 2020 precipitated a radical shift in work dynamics, prompting a reevaluation of traditional career trajectories. The allure of big cities diminished as individuals sought greater flexibility and work-life balance, leading to a gradual migration towards smaller towns and rural areas. This significant transformation in the talent landscape is poised to endure and presents mutually beneficial opportunities for both organisations and individuals.

Adapting operating models to user needs

McKinsey research reveals that approximately 54% of recruiters have faced candidates rejecting job offers due to a lack of flexibility or work-from-home options. The evolving talent mindset underscores a preference for delineating boundaries between professional and personal spheres. This shift has seen individuals transitioning to new roles or opting out of the workforce altogether. Trends indicate divergent preferences among employees regarding work arrangements, highlighting the importance of flexibility, remote options, career advancement opportunities, meaningful tasks, and fair compensation, which vary based on age, life phase, and professional background. 

Individuals no longer view traditional employment as the sole avenue for earning income, with various alternative opportunities available in the gig economy such as social media influencers, digital consultants or freelancers. Organisations seeking to fill traditional roles now face talent competition not just from each other but also from unconventional forms of employment. 

Given this evolving landscape, leaders must contemplate, "What adjustments must we make to both attract and retain exceptional talent?"

Organisations now open to accommodating a distributed workforce stand to draw in skilled individuals who might be leaning towards meaningful roles but are hesitant to relocate for them. Additionally, they may tap into fresh talent reservoirs in regions previously inaccessible or other countries, as well as engage workers with disabilities, parents of young children, and individuals whose preferences diverge from conventional work models. Thus, fundamentally redrawing the talent map. 

When it comes to operating models that contribute to business growth, remote-first has a distinct competitive edge. 

Reimagining the people attraction and engagement models

So where is the talent which can serve this vision? 

According to a recent report by Nasscom and Deloitte, around 11-15 percent of India’s tech talent resides in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. The reasons include a lower cost of living, less time to commute, and closer to ageing parents among others. Individuals also say they are more productive when they are working from anywhere versus the traditional office setup. 

In a world that has recently faced a pandemic, millennials and Generation Z believe in doing what they love every day rather than subscribing to a weekend or weekday regime.  They favour workdays that are not structured linearly. Organisations that can tap into this pool not just end up having happier employees but also a greener planet. Needless to say, it creates the most diverse organisation setting up innovation.

Going remote may solve certain issues around talent attraction but it comes with its series of challenges which if left unaddressed can backfire. Working remotely is perhaps what the talent wants but working asynchronously is the need of the hour for organisations. 

Organisations must exercise some fundamental changes to facilitate this transition, starting with actively listening to their employees' needs and preferences. For example, in our organisation, which has over two decades of experience in managing a diverse workforce, the shift to a remote-first model was a strategic process. Our employee value proposition research indicated our employees’ need for flexibility and autonomy. We partnered with a thought leader on Remote work from Harvard Business School to define our remote-first organisational strategy. Among other things, it meant upskilling everyone for a remote-first model. This included creating systems and processes for asynchronous communication, remote playbooks, workshops focusing on managing teams, and documenting. And this is just on the culture side of things. There is legislation, employee wellness, performance management and a plethora of initiatives focused on engaging people so everyone who joins feels empowered from day one.

The benefits of your signature style 

Organisations can manoeuvre the shifting landscape if they are in tune with the talent beat. One size doesn’t fit all, and all organisations cannot move to a remote-first model. As per McKinsey research, finance, management, professional services and information sectors have the highest potential for remote work. There is merit in understanding if certain departments or individuals can be leaner and more productive if remote. 

The fundamental prerequisite for a seamless transition to remote work lies in the cultivation and sustenance of a foundation built upon trust among all involved parties. When organisations prioritise trust in their employees, performance naturally follows. However, if the focus remains on input rather than impact, the readiness for transitioning to an asynchronous work style is compromised. 

Similarly, in remote organisations, individuals who demonstrate self-drive and initiative feel rewarded in their careers and lives. The operational model is outcome-oriented, demanding considerable discipline, continuous learning, and self-motivation to excel without someone constantly looking over their shoulders. This necessitates an almost entrepreneurial mindset, characterised by proactive initiative and a commitment to doing whatever is necessary for success. 

As organisations, it is imperative to seek out talent where they are most productive, rather than confining ourselves solely to urban centres. The future of recruitment lies not only in metropolitan areas but in the inclusive embrace of talent from diverse regions across the country, fostering a more equitable and vibrant workforce landscape.

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Topics: Talent Management, Life @ Work, #RemoteWork

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