Should Recruiters worry about where a candidate lives?

Someone once said “you live where you want to but you work where you have to….” However, that was before Covid and the rule book has been totally re-written.

Arguably, pre-Covid, we were all getting too hung up on where an employee lived or where they were based. With senior Sales/Operations roles, there is a likelihood that the person is going to have a roaming brief with a territory and attendance at a Head Office location will be a requirement. But this will give rise to all sorts of questions – can the role be home based? Is it necessary to re-locate? Who pays the mileage?

Some Companies used to be quite inflexible about location and say that employees must live within commuting distance whilst the “new normal” is that employers will take a more enlightened view and say that they want the best person for the role regardless of where they live.

How practicable is it to say that location doesn’t matter?

Whilst technology has been a great enabler during Covid borne out of absolute necessity, nothing beats human inter-action, contact with the team and colleagues, the ability to bounce ideas around and encourage creative thinking.

If someone lives in the remotest part of Cornwall, West Wales or Cumbria and Head Office is in Birmingham, practicalities say that it is a 4 hour plus car journey, 250 miles of fuel, overnight accommodation, possibly wear and tear on a company car etc…..Whilst  the employee will do much of the driving in their own time, early starts, late home etc the cost of mileage and overnight accommodation will invariably be borne by the business and the reality is that it would be far more cost effective to have someone who lives closer to the centre.

But has Covid changed everything? Teams, Zoom, remote Management meetings.

How important is engagement with the team or can we do it all remotely?

Working at home can be more productive, less interruptions, enables employees to have a better work-life balance and there is a massive reduction in mileage reimbursement, overnight stays, flights, train travel etc.

Business is about people and we must never lose sight of the art of “relationship building”. You connect with people through technology but the format can be somewhat restrictive because you only build relationships through getting to know people, spending time in their company, engaging with them on all sorts of issues and levels. In some aspects of business life, human inter-action in the same room is invaluable, more productive and the basis of relationships.

Some IT roles have been done perfectly well thousands of miles away for many years and sometimes these people have a personality that thrives on the isolation. But many senior roles require the individual to lead from the front, set examples, have high energy levels and motivate members of the team when morale is low. Also, when the chips are down, you need people to think outside the box, have inspiration and solve problems – again, technology can connect but if a group of people are in the same room, you need to be able to sense the energy levels.

Zoom and Teams have kept the wheels of business moving but they can have their limitations in terms of sound quality and clarity – not to mention the challenge of people talking over other people. Too many people on a call can result in a “free for all” with everyone butting in – so remote meetings need time focus, strict agenda control, discipline and concentration.

In a meeting room, energy levels drop and someone calls for a natural break or a coffee but on Zoom and Teams, people can drift off and the highlight is an Amazon delivery driver at the door and the dog goes mad.

And – not everyone has a home environment that lends itself to home working – young kids, no space…….not everyone has the benefit of a home office?

Does location matter?

Yes, it should be a consideration but technology can provide solutions but ultimately the ability to work flexibly or remotely is part of our everyday life. As with everything in life – we need balance – and it relies on a culture based on trust.

We are also concerned about the environment and employees doing less miles – by air or car – is great for our green credentials. Also, good for a Company’s annual report?

Finally – if Companies are paying out less in overnight stays, flights, mileage, this is an immediate positive hit to the bottom line.

Apply common sense, be open-minded and strive for a sensible balance on where an employee lives, maximise technology, and a better work life balance will reduce attrition and the bottom line should look after itself.

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We recruit throughout the East Midlands covering Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Rutland and the surrounding areas, especially Market Harborough, Lutterworth, Leicester, Corby and Kettering. We help people find their perfect job and match suitable job seekers with businesses looking to hire the best candidates across our five specialisms – SalesMarketingAccountancy & FinanceHR and Office