With Covid-19 showing signs that it can be defeated in 2021, it is time to rethink strategies on HR recruitment. Any company that operates in a high-tech field knows how difficult it is to compete for talent against the heavy hitters of Silicon Valley. Small companies cannot match the futuristic environments that they offer such as the doughnut-shaped, Pentagon-sized Apple headquarters. Many of these are huge complexes that include parks, gardens, and convenient on-site shops, where employees can meet and maybe hatch an idea or two. But not many companies have the billions that it takes to do this.
Are small and medium-sized businesses to be deprived of the top engineering and programming talent that it takes to compete with the giants in this hyper-competitive era? The fact that new unicorns – start-up businesses, almost exclusively in high-tech, worth more than $1 billion – are challenging the titans in many sectors, is a prime indication that this is not necessarily the case. One way of acquiring top talent is to copy, within budgetary constraints, what the large, cutting-edge companies are doing.
Get Rid of the Fixed Cubicle
Covid-19 has forced many progressive companies to give up on the fixed cubicle, whether it is a separate office or screened office space. They are experimenting with activity-based working spaces where employees can gather for intensive sessions that require group participation. They may still have a permanent desk somewhere, but they are encouraged to move around to where the action is taking place. Surveys of the high-tech and other industries indicate that employees operating from remote locations will constitute 25% + of the workforce in the post-Covid office environment. This allows a smarter utilization of space for those employees that will continue to work on site.
Miniaturized Company Campuses
Creating a cozy and peaceful environment for formal or impromptu gatherings relieves tensions, and creates a more socially friendly space for interaction. Airy environments, and green spaces, hark back to leisurely executive meetings, which took place on golf courses. Now it is manifested on huge company campuses. However, for smaller businesses, everything can be scaled down to what is financially feasible. A more miniaturized green space on the company’s grounds with paths for strolling and room for recreational activities can promote camaraderie and team cohesion. In large building complexes a small atrium with plants and flowers can serve the same purpose.
Open-Plan office Space Still Cool
In the post-Covid era, it will be again possible to create a more dynamic working environment to encourage unsolicited encounters between employees. Openness facilitates people bumping into each other (once social distancing is removed) and perhaps dropping kernels of information that may spark creative ideas. Sometimes, the most innocuous remarks can light up the idea lamp in others. In a more sharing world, this is more likely to happen than in the past. There is sound financial reasoning to all this: cutting down on permanent workstations reduces the amount of real estate required. Tech firms have managed to cut employee space requirements by approximately 25% compared to other industries. This will accelerate because many more employees will continue to work from home in the future.
The Home- Away-From- Home Concept
Making offices resemble residential spaces is another direction that is gaining more prevalence. Providing a more homey office environment by including bookshelves and even personal paraphernalia causes people to relax and be more creative. You can invite colleagues to your “home” instead of a sterile office. This sits well in an era that has, for the most part, opted for less formality in every human activity.
Inter-Generational Comfort Zone
Collaborative work areas can cause friction between old and new employees. The Millennial and Z-generations may choose to develop youthful cliques that tend to exclude the older generation. This should be discouraged by promoting the advantages of collaboration between experience and raw creative passion. A mixed group can bring more mature ideas to the foreground. This should include collaboration and regular digital contact between inter-generational remote employees.
Bigger Is Not Necessarily Better
In some of these new HR recruitment and retention innovations there is a negative side that provides opportunities for small and medium businesses. Open areas are a source of noise that some employees find disturbing, and may not be conducive to stimulating their creative juices. These work areas sometimes encompass very large spaces. They require a great deal of walking to and fro, which is counterproductive and exhausting for older employees.
The Big Brother Syndrome
Everyone realizes that absolute privacy is very rare, both at work and in private surroundings. Technology has made us visible to others, who may wish to track our movements and activities. But some big tech firms have taken this to new heights by introducing smart, AI-driven monitoring technologies that keep ever closer tabs on people.
Not all employees are as enamored with this direction as much as the executives who want to utilize the full range of innovative employee tracking technologies. This type of pervasive monitoring has even moved into the design of office furniture. Built-in sensors can indicate employee presence or absence. Big Brother watching you at all times can cause discomfort and alienation. In all such cases, employees should be allowed to express their opinion as to how far they are willing to permit such privacy infringements.
Company Culture Projection
Architecture, paintings, and furniture can project an attractive company culture, which may appeal to new recruits. It doesn’t need to have the size and scope of the current tech leaders. It all depends on the industry you are operating in. Much of what is seen as progressive in the high-tech industry can be viewed as over-the-top, and inappropriate by others. However, many of the new concepts that attract talent can be extrapolated in some way, at a reduced scale and price.
Win Them Over With Extra Services
Gone will be the toys that interrupted workflow in the pre-Covid era. They will be replaced by useful employee services and electronic tools that promote more efficiencies. For example, these services may help busy employees, who have to juggle business and home activities, find suitable accommodations when they move into a new city. In addition, such extra services as finding respected schools and kindergartens for employees’ children are much valued. Adding a nursery area in the office can set an employer apart from the competition.
Small and medium-sized businesses looking to attract talent in the post-Covid era can take advantage of some of the more glaring disadvantages of the big corporations, like the restrictions on privacy. Large, open spaces are not everyone’s choice for a productive work environment and can be replaced with creative touches in office design that lead to a more cozy environment.
Unique, visionary ideas will always attract talent looking for new challenges that allow them to express their creativity. Small business owners can aid their cause by projecting enthusiasm for their new ideas, and confidence in a bright outcome that will be shared with all employees. This recipe will always intoxicate a fresh pool of idea generators.