What HR Needs to Do To Understand the Changing Workplace Landscape
Jessica Miller-Merrell | HR, Work| By
I bought a coworking space because the workplace is changing. Being tethered to technology is allowing us to work anywhere and anytime. For example, one of my clients is based in Israel. This means that when my work day begins here in the United States, there’s is just wrapping up. It means that I might be working earlier hours to hop on a quick call or responding to emails before I go to bed knowing that responses will be there when I wake up in the morning.
It’s that technology that is allowing us to find the best talent outside of our geographic locations. We can engage, collaborate, and recruit across time zones and countries. This opens up our recruiting talent pools as we, as HR and recruiting leaders have more options for talent. Options are good but sometimes they are bad because they slow down processes or we have too many options. As the talent pool widens so must our efforts to engage candidates while also working harder to retain our current workforce. Our employees have more choices in terms of employment options. They are also more likely willing to jump ship not just for a competitor organization. Employers are also competing not just against other organizations but the lure that freelancing and owning a small business brings.
And that’s one of the reasons I find a coworking space particularly interesting. It’s a melting pot and mix of independent workers, business owners, and the remote workforce who are all craving one thing and that is a sense of community and belonging. They are a living and breathing embodiment of the changing dynamics of the workforce. And it is something I wanted to be a part of not as a participant but as something different which is how I found myself the owner of a coworking space.
What HR Needs To Do To Understand the Changing Workplace Landscape
My advice to HR and workplace leaders is to get out. Understand and make time to engage, relate and understand the changing workforce. Try working remotely for yourself. Do some freelance maybe sign up for 30 days to be a Lyft driver. Join a coworking space and office out of that location on a part time basis. Talk to the coworking community. Get to know them. Ask them questions and then build your recruitment and engagement strategy using this information. Otherwise, if you wait, someone else will in this competitive talent market. And you will be left out in the cold frustrated with your current engagement efforts or an increase in turnover numbers because your leadership doesn’t understand that employees are leaving your organization because they want the flexibility to live and work anywhere. Get outside of your comfort zone and from behind the desk. Maybe host your corporate retreat at a coworking space instead of a hotel. Invite members to be a part of a short panel to talk about the how, why, and the lure of what attracts them to this new workplace.
Thirty days into being a coworking owner has been interesting and one of our members recently joined our office space. He was desperate to get out of his kitchen office. He relocated nearby for his daughter’s school, but the solitary and lack of separation from his work and personal life was driving him crazy. He is the organization’s first and only remote worker. He is a trailblazer at his organization in this role and after six months working from home, he asked his boss if he could get an office in a coworking space. Bosses might see this membership as an unneeded expense, however, I see it as more of a sanity check. Remote workers are happier and more productive because they have a place to go. That’s exactly what I told Tim and gave him 2-3 sentences along with some research on the benefits of coworking to help make the case to his boss.
This guy is a highly skilled worker. The organization based on his skill set and expertise can’t afford to lose him which is why I was surprised there was so much push back for a $300-$600 a month investment. Eventually, his boss agreed to try out a coworking membership on a trial basis.
On a personal note, working in an office environment after nearly 8 years of working from home has been a challenge. I’m learning to manage hallway conversations, interruptions and maintaining my productivity levels. It’s been a challenge and one has required some personal reflection taking a look at my own work habits and how I spend my time as a small business. I am such a social person that I’ve had to learn to set more boundaries, wear headphones to focus my time and still make time for those casual conversations that happen in the kitchen over coffee and creamer.