The current state of the remote workforce continues to evolve as varied predictions on whether we’ll ever return to our “normal” collaborative workspaces continue to emerge.
One thing, though, is for sure: These unprecedented times provide HR departments and hiring committees the flexibility to hire unconventionally and cast a wider net – with a higher likelihood they’ll be presented with a more diverse talent pool. In fact, the shift to a more virtual workplace is allowing companies to restructure their business models and expand their operations.
But what about essential industries that don’t have the option to have their employees work remotely from home? Can they benefit from the remote workforce model and leverage current circumstances to bring efficiency to their business AND cut costs? The answer is yes.
Stronger together. Ethical business practices.
One virtual assistance company has not only expanded its employee base and operations by five times its size, but it has also helped keep dozens of small businesses open.
The Service Center, a 2019 BBB Spark Award Winner, is a “full-service back office support team of virtual receptionists and assistants” that has been operating remotely since its inception in mid-2018. When COVID-19 disrupted the marketplace last spring, its services helped busy businesses struggling to survive.
“We were just at the right place at the right time … we were able to help save a lot of businesses,” said Chadwick Taylor, owner and CEO of The Service Center. “A lot of our clients would have otherwise been out of business. If they had to lay off their staff but their phones were still ringing off the hook, they had to do something.”
With more businesses reaching for lifelines to help keep the lights on, The Service Center pivoted and lent a hand. Taylor and his team provided reduced rates and in-kind services for businesses at a moment when other operations may have tried to take advantage of a marketplace in need.
Taylor’s ethical approach to providing essential workforce services like accounting, bookkeeping and other back-end logistics has allowed businesses to bypass the cost/liability associated with hiring a full-time employee. His goal is to help “solopreneurs” manage the long list of responsibilities that comes with owning a business to help them succeed and grow, until they’re in a position to hire a full-time staff.
As word spread, he continued to expand and hire employees that shared his vision across the country. From hiring virtual receptionists to freelancers that could provide web and logo design for businesses, The Service Center was able to find the perfect fit every time.
Too much of a good thing?
On the other hand, while casting a wider net does have its benefits, it also has its downsides. The Service Center experienced an overwhelming number of applicants at an exponential rate. “We had a job posting on Indeed once for three open positions, and within 48 hours we had 1,500 applications,” said Taylor.
Companies looking to post a remote position need to keep in mind the major increase in the rate of applicants they’ll receive and know what strategies to take to help make the process less overwhelming.
Here a few helpful tips to help narrow down a candidate pool while also diversifying the applicants you receive:
- Be specific. Dedicate a bit more time and energy into crafting your job description to narrow down the applicant pool. Cut out the skills that are “nice to have” and only include skills that are absolutely necessary. Don’t forget the soft skills, as most remote workers need to have the social emotional skills in order to self-manage.
- Pre-employment personality assessments. Implement preliminary personality assessments and let them do the heavy lifting for you. These valuable tools help you craft the perfect candidate with the skills and characteristics you’re looking for to narrow down your pool even further.
- Research the right geographical locations. Be strategic with the specific regions you’d like candidates to apply from to help fulfill unique aspects of the position. Does a particular region have the demographic you’re looking for? What about field research and industry experience? That extra research can give an extra boost in the long run.
Predictors across the board agree that the remote workforce is mostly here to stay, as most research participants say they would like to continue to work remotely to some degree. No matter your industry, this major shift in the workplace can work in your favor.