Working entirely from home, and not having any face-to-face meetings with colleagues, candidates, or clients is not something the recruitment industry was used to.
In general, the industry promotes a sociable environment, visiting clients and candidates, and working closely with your colleagues. Oyster Partnership was exactly the same, and much like all of our peers, we have had to adapt our ways of working and adjust to what is now the new ‘normal’.
Most of us have had time to adjust to the current situation and find ways how to make it work. To see how one of our teams is coping with the lockdown and recruiting from home, we caught up with one of the consultants who recruits for our Housing Needs division.
What is it like to be a recruitment consultant during a lockdown?
The basics of the role are the same, making contact with new and existing clients or candidates to assess their needs. For the most part the change has come from the lockdown itself. The needs of my clients and candidates have changed. Urgency has increased and higher volumes of specialists are required. However, due to the crisis, they might not be readily available. Equally, some ‘non-essential’ areas of work have become completely static for recruitment.
What have you found to be the most challenging part?
Working from home has been challenging, reducing our contact with our candidates, clients, and the other teams at Oyster. Many of us tend to work together when placing candidates or dealing with clients, so not having the capability to quickly check in with other teams in the office can be hard. From a social aspect, this has also been a rather lonely experience compared with the busy environment common for Oyster. I’m also missing the opportunity to meet candidates and clients face to face. Not being able to add that bit of personal touch is also adding a bit of strain to the job.
Have you had to perform any tasks/jobs that are usually outside your normal list of responsibilities?
I recruit solely for Homelessness professionals for Housing Options, which commonly requires a highly specified skill set. Since the lockdown, I have been recruiting for a high volume of NHS frontline worker roles which is outside my remit. However, it has been a great challenge and a good experience for me as a recruiter in these difficult times.
How is your team coping with the changes to their working environment?
As a team, we are all facing different challenges in our new working environment. Whether this is their living situation, who they are living with, or what their IT equipment/ Wifi is like. All of these are a change to their normal ways of working but we are keeping in contact and supporting each other as best as we can.
How are you communicating with your team?
Mostly via video conference calls, phone calls, and emails. Not much has changed here other than the video platform aspect. It’s a great way of discussing bigger issues that are more difficult to explain via email or a phone call. Being able to jump on a Zoom conference call or FaceTime can save a lot of misunderstandings caused by communicating only via email.
Keeping morale up within the team is more important than ever, how are you achieving this within your team?
We are taking on team activities like; team quizzes, bootcamps, and other activities we can have via video call apps. Mainly we are just keeping in contact outside of work in the same way we would normally, sharing our activities and experiences. I would also suggest using video calling as much as possible when communicating with the team, it just makes it a bit more personal to be able to see someone’s face.
Are there any positives you can take away from the current situation?
We have, as most of the country has, due to this crisis run a successful pilot on fully working from home. As a result, we can see that the recruiter’s job, the same as many roles we recruit for can be done from home. As a positive, we might be seeing more home/remote working across Oyster and the country. We all are looking forward to going back to work, however, the possibility of being able to work from home, here or there when needed is very positive.
What advice would you give to other recruiters out there?
Stick with it! This is a difficult time for everyone, recruitment consultants, candidates, and clients across all sectors. Nonetheless, if you continue to keep in touch with people and help them beyond the normal methods of recruitment they will remember you after this crisis is over. An act of kindness such as a simple phone call to see how someone is doing during the lock-down will be highly appreciated by your candidates and clients in the future. This is a great time to build relationships without asking anything back.
Imagine lockdown is over, and it’s the first day back in the office- what are you most looking forward to?
Seeing my team and friends face to face and having a good laugh. Going to lunch with the team and swapping lockdown stories.
Are there any lessons that you have learned during lockdown that you’ll carry into ‘normal’ working practices?
Discipline, although I have always been a very focused individual this lockdown has been taxing. With so many distractions at home, it’s easy to get pulled away from the task at hand and see your productivity drop. It might not be a new lesson I have learned, nonetheless, it’s a lesson that has been cemented. Staying disciplined, and focused, and creating a daily plan outlining how best to use your time and committing to it is very important. During these weeks I think I have developed my work discipline a lot and will most certainly carry that with me once we are back in the office.
Times are challenging for everyone businesses, employees, and leaders, however, this won’t last forever. After all of this is over, we will certainly emerge as much stronger, disciplined, and more driven individuals ready to take on the next challenge.