With the pandemic declining from crisis to nuisance, many organizations are reflecting on how the workplace has changed, for better or worse. We’ve all heard the phrase “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and it seems the past two years have turned culture inside out, literally.
Many businesses are trying to figure out how to build an effective culture with talent that no longer wants to be in the office every day. In our current market, finding and retaining top talent continues to be challenging, and jobseekers have the upper hand. They’ve adapted to a new normal, and most want the flexibility and productivity of remote or hybrid work.
A recent Gartner report states that 75 percent of remote workers have come to expect the flexibility that work-from-home provides, and that companies would lose as much as 39 percent of their workforce if they returned to a full-time, in-office requirement. JumpStart Ventures works closely with early stage tech startups, and from what we’ve seen, post-pandemic trends can have a major impact, given that most startups are lean and need every new hire to make a big difference.
So, how can startups and established businesses work with the trends, rather than against them?
■ Support hybrid officing to provide a workable solution for employers and team members. Working in-office for a portion of the week offers some of the benefits of remote work while also leveraging the structure of in-office engagement to help build team culture and collaboration. For a hybrid solution, managers need to create effective engagement so team members can interact, build trust and experience the impromptu information exchange that occurs in person. Sometimes, the most productive and insightful interactions are sparked spontaneously in the hallways, not the meeting room or a Zoom call.
■ Broaden your candidate pool by hiring regionally. Seeking talent within a three to five-hour driving radius expands the candidate pool to include nearby population centers within a comfortable driving distance. Proximity enables remote teams to make periodic trips to meet with team leaders, conduct planning sessions or product reviews and attend team-building events with modest travel.
■ Solve important talent gaps by hiring remote employees. Expanding to a national search yields a vast and diverse talent pool to fill mission-critical roles using candidates with unique backgrounds and capabilities. For early stage companies that are commercializing cutting-edge technologies, expanded sourcing can engage top talent to generate transformative impact. Though remote hiring might appear to lessen the impact on our local economy, the opposite could be true. Remote hiring can fill critical skill gaps to drive momentum and growth, ultimately leading to additional jobs.
We all want to see our region prosper and compete with peer cities, and part of that vision includes building an economy that can attract and retain high-potential technology startups. While production and service-oriented jobs require working on-site, many tech and tech-enabled jobs do not.
For these businesses, rather than expecting a return to the pre-pandemic era, the trend will be toward adopting flexible human resource policies. Keeping a finger on the pulse on the evolving workforce and staying in step with emerging trends could help level-set access to talent and enable Ohio to compete with major tech markets more effectively. ●
Jerry Frantz is President of JumpStart Ventures