By Andy Fury
The last two years have disrupted the work landscape for good. The effects of an enforced remote workforce has accelerated the pace of change in the workplace, so that the future is now.
As social distancing restrictions have been lifted and we see light at the end of the tunnel, what lies ahead for your tech team as we try and adjust to whatever the ‘new normal’ is? For instance, while it may be safe to return to the office, the appetite for flexible working hasn’t gone away.
To keep up with these attitudes and shifting landscape, employers will need to adapt to keep their recruitment and retention game strong with hybrid and remote working policies. Tech was ahead of the curve when it came to home working anyway, but it’s changed from a nice-to-have to an essential part of the employee package.
By keeping a finger on the pulse of trends and developments in the AWS space, employers can avoid losing out and maintain their competitive advantage.
According to the Jefferson Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: AWS Edition, 85% of the permanent employees surveyed said that aside from salary, company benefits are important when deciding whether or not they will take a job. Since your remote or hybrid working policy will be a big part of that, it’s safe to say it matters.
While tech roles have historically been pretty flexible when it comes to remote working, including roles which have involved full-time remote working, the pandemic has still transformed the working landscape for many businesses, even those that were quite frugal in their approach to flexible working.
Many forward-looking companies have embraced this transition to remote working. According to the hiring guide, there’s been a significant increase in the number of candidates who’ve transitioned into a full-time remote working permanent position since the pandemic began.
And since some 82% of AWS professionals said the ability to work remotely in their role is important to them, it seems like things won’t return to the normal five-day office week any time soon.
So what was once a perk is now considered the norm, with the hiring guide finding that remote working is essential to most in the AWS space. In fact, when asked if they’d be happy to work in the office five days a week going forward, 38% of AWS professionals said they’d prefer to work fully remotely, and 46% said they would prefer hybrid working.
With candidates having the upper hand in the talent-scarce marketplace within the tech sector, employers will need to implement remote and flexible working policies to attract candidates to fill their roles. That’s not in order to stand out, either—it’s to keep up with your competitors who are also hiring those professionals.
It’s also important to remember this is not just about remote working. It’s about helping employees create a better work-life balance, whether it’s the ability to manage where and how they work, to a more fluid working day, to being able to combine their home commitments with work duties in a more seamless and harmonious way.
This fundamental change in the way work ‘works’ brings its own challenges.
As employers, how do you balance the demand for remote working while capitalising on the gains that come from face-to-face interaction?
What about managing remote, hybrid and in-person teams, and what are the changes needed to manage remote teams?
Let’s dig into the detail on making flexible working a key part of your recruitment and retention strategy.
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Hybrid working is about finding the right balance between home/office working as well as flexible working locations.
Ideally, a hybrid working policy should work for both in-person and remote employees. Employees should get the opportunity to leverage the flexibility and potentially increased productivity of working remotely, while still benefitting from the interaction that comes from having a core office space to work from.
For remote and hybrid workers, this flexibility gives them autonomy to do their best work.
That may be about aligning tasks with location, like saving collaboration for the shared office space, and leaving those in-depth tasks for when the team is at home.
So, team members may agree on mutual days to be in the office, and use this time to capitalize on face-to-face interaction and meetings. Remote days might be better for uninterrupted concentration.
Communication is key to make sure in-person and remote workers are treated equally—regular check ins, both during the day and with regular 1-2-1s, can help smooth any bumps in the road. Because ultimately, the best way to know what your employees want is by asking them, rather than guessing.
Believe it or not, while it will always be a major part of any career decision, salary is becoming less important in candidates deciding whether to say yes to that job offer. Instead, talented professionals are placing increasing importance on the culture of their employers.
Top tech talent aren’t just looking to be compensated competitively for their skills; they’re looking for meaning from their work. That means they’re looking for an employer that shares their values and can provide a greater sense of purpose.
From a bigger picture perspective, this might include sustainability. How does your company (and therefore, how can your employees) contribute to making the world a better place? Partnering with local non-profits and charity organizations and offering volunteering days can be simple ways of doing this.
Creating inclusive and diverse working environments also make better places to spend a working week. Your future teams want to know they can bring their whole selves to work and be valued for their contributions, so make sure your approach to ED&I is more than just a page hidden away on your website, or a document gathering dust somewhere. It’s no longer enough to be aware—your approach has to be active.
Finally, from a community perspective, what’s your company’s culture when it comes to socialising? Is Friday beers (in-person or remotely) a weekly event, and are there employee networks to join? The support you give each other, both professionally and personally, can be a huge selling point to prospective employees.
Communication can make or break culture, and this is even truer in a remote-working environment. As well as regular check ins, anonymized surveys can help gauge employee engagement. Instant messaging apps and any other project management software can also help streamline communication within teams.
Alongside getting work done, there should be deliberate opportunities for employees to have fun with teammates. If you have in-person initiatives already, try and adapt them for remote staff, whether it’s virtual yoga classes or Zoom drinks.
Most importantly, as a leader you shouldn’t just be facilitating these spaces, but helping encourage it. Take an active part in conversations, ask people what they got up to last night, comment on the latest episode of Stranger Things, find out what the weekend plans are. Your role isn’t a master of ceremonies, you aren’t a game show host, but in the same way you’d stop and chat while making a coffee a few times a day, it’s okay to spend a few minutes a day on a slack channel/WhatsApp group discussing things that aren’t work related.
Everyone wants to be acknowledged, and this is no different for remote workers. It can be easy to have the most visible (i.e. in-person) members of your team at the front of mind, but it’s important to show your remote workers that they’re valued too. Since hybrid working shifts the focus from being visible to being effective, shouting about employees’ achievements can demonstrate that their efforts are being recognised.
Engaging tech talent still applies to remote workers, so developing L&D resources can help retain staff and reduce turnover. Whether it’s offering AWS training, paying for certifications or just allocating some L&D time for people to use autonomously, your remote employees want development opportunities in order to stick around.
Depending on your team, a Friday afternoon beer, even virtually, can be a welcome way to begin the weekend. Just 15-30 minutes to shoot the breeze, celebrate wins and start to decompress a little. However, if you’ve a group that consists mainly of parents, there’s a good chance that 30 minutes could be better spent logged off and resuming childcare, rather than staring at a screen—so it’s important to read the room.
Ultimately, having that culture in place where you interact with each other on a personal level is a great way to keep people engaged.
Many companies are still finding their way when it comes to establishing a hybrid working policy that works for everyone. It requires trust, a shift in traditional attitudes and a little trial and error when it comes to working for your individual team.
Nevertheless, making hybrid and remote working a firm part of the way you do things will pay back in dividends in engagement, productivity, and most importantly, attracting and retaining the best talent.
The demand for flexible working is unlikely to go away any time soon. By implementing processes and cultures that embrace it, your business will ultimately thank you for it, and you’ll find attracting and retaining AWS professionals much easier as a result.
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