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Will there be some light at the end of the tunnel?

by Anthony Lewis


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Presenteeism is a word according to ‘Collins dictionary’, but is it something we can banish forever from the business lexicon?

Imagine a world where you are only required to travel into the office for vital meetings. A world where you can choose the time of travel to suit your own diary. A world where you don’t need to be seen in the office to have ‘punched in’ for work. For some, this might not be utopia, but for many it is. And we aren’t far away from that. Working practices have changed as a result of Covid-19. It is down to individuals and employers as to whether we continue embracing these changes as restrictions are lifted and how can we harness them to make the world of work a better place.

Hypothetically speaking, if the above scenario does become common place then what does it mean for talent pools in future recruitment campaigns? In my mind it would widen them, creating a more diverse talent pool, something we are all need and want in a recruitment process. 

If we are changing the expectations of how people work and where they work from, it opens the world of work to those who are currently caring for young children or elderly parents. It means we can harness the incredible talent pools that exist in individuals who have sacrificed their career in order to raise their family. If we have found a world of work where outcomes are valued instead of hours spent in the office, then we open the door to thousands of talented individuals who otherwise couldn’t balance the demands and pressures of working and family life. We’ve been travelling in this direction for some time, and many organisations offer flexible working, but this takes it a step further. Do the recent weeks show that you can balance the dog walk, looking after the kids, the food shop, alongside being effective at work and producing high quality work? It requires a big leap of faith for many managers, and a change in habits for many individuals, but the last few weeks have shown that it is possible. And once children return to school and restrictions are lifted, it will be significantly less challenging for parents and carers. For some jobs, and for some individuals, this way of working isn’t possible and/or desired, and this also needs to be recognised and celebrated. But for the roles that can support a different way of working, this will open the door to brilliant talent that was otherwise unseen. We can bring individuals back into the world of work who had otherwise resigned themselves to part-time jobs or to the limited number of organisations who were open to employing someone who had restrictions on their time. I hope we can blow the doors off this thinking and attract a far broader talent pool.

If we take this one step further and think about ‘core hours’, we can reimagine how the working week could be structured to make time spent in the office as effective as possible. And not just about work stations and pointless meetings. We could then increase the geographical search radius for recruitment. Core hours is a principle where a period of time is marked as essential that staff are available or in the office to ensure that meetings can be held with all the relevant people present. Outside of this, work can de delivered at a time that suits the individual. Can this concept be refined to make the working week more effective? If less people are needed to be in an office 5 days a week, from 9 till 5, then it opens the door to those who live outside of a commutable range. If you only need to travel into the office a couple of times in a week, and not forced to be there for 9am, then travelling further becomes an option, peak train fares less obstructive, and talent pools for recruitment far deeper. We often find in recruitment that many talented individuals are not able to relocate for a new role because it doesn’t work for their families or it isn’t the right time. So, would this make changing job more accessible? Does it help with the flow of talent? We’d like to think so. And this means you can attract a far wider, more diverse candidate pool into your recruitment campaigns and this can only be a positive thing.

For organisations that want to enhance their employment brand then these points need to be carefully thought through and built into any future recruitment campaigns.

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