COVID-19 has forced the world to look at many areas that we took for granted in totally new ways; one of which is employment practices. Here we discuss the benefits of seeking talent beyond the local region.

While the pandemic has been undoubtedly difficult, challenging and frightening, there are certain ways in which it has been a positive disruptor for change; a prime example is by forcing a more flexible approach to employment practices.

With so many jobs now being done from home, employers have been given an unexpected insight into the potential for remote working. It is no longer something to shy away from; it’s something to be embraced as both a solution and an opportunity..

What are the benefits of seeking talent beyond the local region?

By embracing a more hybrid working system, companies will immediately widen their talent pool and increase their capacity to recruit top class employees with a niche skill set.

Here we explain the benefits of tapping into new talent beyond the local region and why - now more than ever - businesses must take on a more flexible employment style.

The rise of home working - how has it impacted the housing sector?

In April 2020, half of Britons found themselves working from home. Roles that could be performed from home had to switch up their working practice. The rise of the living room office and the awkward Zoom wave has caused an enormous ripple effect in many industries, not least the housing sector.

Although there were still many roles that required staff to work ‘on the job’ - construction and maintenance, for example - a huge portion of housing jobs switched from office to remote overnight.

Everything from customer service to money advice and rent recovery, HR, IT, accountancy and finance all had to adjust to this style of working; and we don’t think that this is necessarily a bad thing.

In fact, an official study suggests that those working from home tend to spend more time on their work and take less time off sick.

Offering quality, flexible working practices can also support mental health and stress, as well as employee engagement and job satisfaction.

We spoke to Eva Cook at Cardiff Community Housing Association (CCHA) about the impact they’ve seen on their employees since moving to a more hybrid work environment.

"Homeworking has affected individuals so differently; some love it and some not so much. It has been great for flexibility but also harder for those who thrive in a more communal environment.

Whilst for us we have had the equipment, technology and support to continue to deliver the same level of service to our customers, this has still come with some challenges.

The key really has been to manage the situation the right way, making sure that the team has access to the same level of support that they would have in the office.

One very big aspect has been not only for management but for the whole team to ‘check in’ on each other and make a conscious effort to connect on a regular basis.

Some need more connection, interaction and catch-ups, others less, and being astute to this has meant that we have been able to maintain high levels of engagement, team morale and performance.

A mix of more scheduled conversations (such as one to ones and team meetings and more impromptu ‘check ins’) has enabled us to quickly spot if anyone needs any more help or support.

This is sometimes simply resolved through a level of contact with their colleagues. Knowing and understanding your team, your staff and your colleagues are imperative, more so now than ever before."

This - in our opinion - positive move for the industry also means that location needn’t be a barrier when connecting with the very best talent.

This is an enormous plus for both employers and candidates. For employers, they can spread their recruitment efforts far beyond their local area and for candidates, they may no longer have to choose between their dream job and their hometown. It’s a win for everyone.


What are the limitations of remote working?

Of course, there are limitations. Some jobs will always require site visits, and if you’re living on the other side of the country this may simply be impossible.

Especially for managerial positions - or customer facing - visibility can be a key part of the job. Tenants will want access and to know who they are dealing with; consequently, your presence (at times) will be beneficial.

Fully remote working can also be known to increase isolation and decrease work life balance. For that reason, we recommend comprehensive wellbeing and staff engagement systems be put in place for anyone being employed - or moved into - a remote role.

There is also a serious resistance from many more traditional employers for this style of working.

Office working has been the norm for generations, and change always brings with it discomfort. But, after 12 months of successful home working, is this really something that employers can avoid going forward?

Is hybrid working a perfect middle point?

An exciting in-between is the idea of hybrid working.

Hybrid working has always existed, but its magnitude has been supercharged full-pelt in response to the pandemic.

The concept of hybrid working balances on the premise of a flexible working style in which an individual, team or entire organisation can spread their working time between their workplace and remotely.

It ticks the boxes. Flexibility? Check. More opportunities to hire beyond your local region? Check. The opportunity to still connect, in person, with your colleagues and clients? Check.

For candidates, arguably one of the biggest benefits of hybrid working is that it will enable more and more people to escape from the city (if this is, of course, on their vision board).

Careers advisory service Escape the City found that the number of job seekers looking to leave London in late July 2020 had doubled in a fortnight.

51% of the 1,000 registered express a desire to leave, compared with 20% in 2019. It’s safe to assume that many British cities will encounter a similar trend, with even more open cities such as Cardiff waving goodbye to their residents in favour of the rolling Welsh countryside.

Which begs the question; if we do move to a predominantly hybrid working format, will there be any need for city-based offices? Or for offices at all? Could this be a way for organisations with already limited funding to cut down on their expenditure?

How can hybrid working benefit the housing and charity sector?

Housing and charity sector jobs can be incredibly niche - often, employers will be competing with private sector and city salaries. Offering a hybrid working style can be a brilliant way to widen your talent pool and encourage more candidates towards the role who may not have been able to consider it before.

The Moxie case study - Newport City Homes

When Newport City Homes contacted us about a markedly niche and specific role, they were facing a low response rate and a struggle to attract the right kind of candidates. This was putting enormous pressure on Anna, the sole recruitment specialist, and the entire HR team, as well as hefty delays in completing and starting time sensitive projects.

Among many other adjustments (you can read the full case study here), we suggested swapping the role to one that accepted hybrid working. Our work ended in a two-week turnaround from the first chat to an accepted offer from the perfect-fit employee. Bish, bash, bosh!

Can recruitment agencies help you find talent beyond the local region?

You bet - it’s what we do. Our mission is to link you up with the best of the best; and we like to think that location shouldn’t get in the way of that.

To find out more about how we can help you tap into talent beyond your local region, get in touch with a member of the Moxie People team. We’d love to chat.