Shaking Up The Structures Of Work

We’re in the midst of global disruption to our everyday lives and with that, standard conventions have gone out of the window. A rare opportunity to reset has presented itself and huge swathes of the population are embracing it with open arms. From meditation apps seeing a surge in usage and downloads, to top-tier tech companies testing remote working at scale, a silver lining of this global crisis seems to be that people are exploring the question ‘Is there a better way to do X?’

Given I’ve been in recruitment for coming up to a decade, my ‘X’ is people and talent. There are a lot of outdated systems and behaviours that govern the way that we work that are well overdue a refresh. Here are the areas I think are most ripe for a shakeup.

From CV to skills-based assessment

Hiring for a large part of the decade has been resume driven. Apparently, CV is ‘king’. As a result, the decision about whether to hire someone or not, tends to be singularly focused on a series of rather surface-level questions: How many years of experience do they have? Why didn’t they go to university? Why did they leave after only 6-months? Why are there no promotions?

We know CV’s provide limited insight into the person behind it and can at times lead to the wrong hire if not evaluated effectively. A 2018 survey showed that more than 8 in 10 HR decision-makers admitted to making a bad hiring decision. In the early stages of startup building, one wrong hire can have an outsized impact on you hitting your milestones. Fortunately, there has been a shift towards skills-based assessment which relies more on evaluating a prospect's actual competencies. A number of platforms have emerged that use behavioural science and AI to help with this.

Why skills-based assessments work better

Firstly, skills-based assessments platforms are proven to reduce new-hire turnover by 43% and decrease the time spent on resume screenings by 37%. These platforms provide an opportunity to gain a deeper insight into a candidate's strengths, their working style, and what kind of team dynamic and environment they'll need to thrive.

Secondly, your candidate experience will significantly improve. Hiring processes can be delayed for various reasons such as poor briefs, high applicant traffic and sourcing difficulties. These platforms will allow you to build your own recruitment process and aptitude tests, and therefore truly infuse your culture into the end-to-end process.

If you’re looking to integrate a skills-based platform into your people team I’d recommend checking out Pymetrics, Harver and Plum.

From offices to flexi-working

An average commute in London is 48 minutes, and the average Londoner will spend 363 days over their lifetime commuting. Imagine if you could spend all that time completing those last-minute deadlines you're always working towards, or even utilise that time for deep focus and creativity?

The current climate means I no longer have to battle the over-populated Northern Line at Clapham, I workout when I want to and now have a very short crawl to my living space. I have gained 2 hours of deep focus time either side of my working day to clear the inbox, complete project work, measure how I am progressing towards my objectives and plan out how to make the day ahead a success. I’m finding this extra time is brilliant for coming up with ideas too.

Use flexi-working to boost productivity

My advice to businesses is to use this time to plan and gear towards how to enable better flexi-working patterns for your business, especially if you have been measuring performance output and are trying to increase productivity. Make sure to provide your team with the support they need and trial different working patterns.

To name a few, this would mean encouraging behaviour and shifting mindsets in the following ways:

  1. Have employees diarise their working hours, blocking out periods they don't want to be disturbed.
  2. Allow more time for focus and less for meetings.
  3. Set parameters on when to use slack vs email vs mobile.
  4. Encourage your team to choose their own working patterns outside of the 9-5 norm
  5. Introduce summer hours to give your employees more to enjoy the longer days

And you may just find your people are more productive over 4 days then 5. Or even those that finish at 4pm.

From offices to distributed workforces

Do you even need an office anymore? Many employees are settling into the home office life and one in four businesses are expected to make redundancies during this crisis.

We have seen some big players, unfortunately, cutting their workforce. Airbnb cut their workforce by 25%, Uber recently underwent a second wave of layoffs and Deliveroo's 15% cut has resulted in a global flooding of talent into the market. You only have to look at talent directories such as Uber’s to know that it’s very rare for there to be so much brilliant talent actively searching for work at the same time.

Combine this with the fact that remote working is quickly becoming normalised, and there lies a real opportunity for startups and high-growth companies to access talent that they would’ve otherwise been unable to access due to visa, and relocation costs.

This would require companies to be comfortable with creating a distributed workforce - one where your employees work from where they like without the need of a physical office - which in itself would require some effort. I’d argue the net gain from having brilliant people outweighs any admin required to build a well-oiled distributed workforce. And besides, that's the direction that work is heading anyway.

What's next for you?

I'd recommend discussing these points amongst your teams and brainstorming how you can get ahead of the curve with your working practices. Drop me a message via LinkedIn if you’d like to discuss any of these ideas further. Also, check out the Mckinsey Future of work section to get you more curious.

Suf is a Talent Acquisition Manager at Forward Partners. Having built a career in people and talent both agency-side and at fast-growing startups, he now focusses on all things Talent for FP and our portfolio.

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