The disruption brought about by COVID-19 has made many components of work and workforce management more difficult. But it has made at least one initiative easier to implement: a policy of location inclusion. Location inclusion is a diversity movement that had difficulty gaining traction before social distancing orders transformed most organizations into remote workplaces virtually overnight. Companies now are experiencing the possibilities and efficiency benefits of incorporating decentralized employees, contractors, and gig workers. Though workers at most traditional, office-based firms still live and work in proximity, the pandemic has proven that it does not matter where talent is located.
Benefits of Location Inclusion
There are many reasons job seekers may not be able to go where potential employers are located. They may need to stay close to provide care for aging parents, they may rely on a network of friends and relatives for childcare or other support, or they may not feel comfortable in large cities. Regardless of their reasoning and no matter how talented these workers may have been, in the past, these social roots would have eliminated them from consideration at most traditional companies. That is no longer the case for companies that adopt active location diversity programs. Today there are few negatives associated with location; communication and collaboration tools make it unnecessary for workers to gather in the same location to be productive. There are, however, several advantages to employing a geographically diverse workforce:
- Extended Operating Hours – Hiring workers from different time zones allows businesses to remain “open” for longer periods. This improves customer service and technical support. It also can make projects run more effectively and come online sooner, as teams in one country hand off their day’s work to another team on the other side of the world.
- Wider Network – Engaging gig workers and employees from across the country serves as a subtle form of horizontal integration. Each new location from which companies source employees represents a new market – both for additional workers and for customers. Building relationships keeps the pipeline flowing and helps extend the employer brand, creating a beachhead in the battle for talent.
- Worker Retention and Continuity – When companies hire people regardless of where they live, they also eliminate the possibility of losing them if they relocate. Employees may leave an area when their partner accepts a new position. They may decide to travel or spend their winters skiing in Vail and their summers fishing the Upper Peninsula. They may decide to start families. Whatever their lifestyle choices, they can still continue to contribute to their firm’s business mission.
Promoting Location Inclusion
Armed with a fast Wi-Fi connection and a functioning smartphone, talented workers can contribute any number of skills and functions to companies headquartered across the country and around the world. Still, remote employees and freelancers may be considered outsiders by staff members who commute to the office every day. Managers and coworkers need to reexamine their attitudes toward workers who choose to reside outside the major commerce centers in which their employers are located. Most of the biases colleagues and supervisors harbor are subconscious, so they can be corrected easily. Here’s how:
- Encourage Participation – Actively solicit opinions from contributors located off-site. Avoid spur-of-the-moment brainstorming or strategy sessions involving only workers who can meet in the conference room in five minutes. Teleconferencing equipment and regular schedules will ensure all team members can check in, offer opinions and updates, and connect socially to maintain morale.
- Change Recruiting and Hiring Practices – COVID-19 has put a damper on in-person interviews, so living in the same city as the company or traveling to its regional office location is not necessary. Removing these restrictions, as well as the market’s demand that companies hire and onboard workers quickly, has opened vast opportunities for people who are tied by culture, family, economics, or social connections to their current location.
- Include Location in Compensation Models – Compensation modeling helps firms establish pay policies and align them with business objectives. Embracing contingent workers and remote arrangements allows workers to reside where they are most comfortable. It also allows firms to tailor compensation to those locations. Due to cost-of-living and work availability factors, a coder living in San Francisco may demand (and get) higher fees than an equally talented one from Muncie, Indiana.
- Expand Company Culture – The idea of “fit” within an organization is established as a key component to employee morale and synergy. But, especially as organizations strive toward greater diversity, they need to understand that fit does not mean conformity. Attracting contributors from a range of backgrounds and geographies necessarily challenges established attitudes, and that’s a good thing. Cultures grow and thrive when they expand. Remote work makes it easier to include perspectives of people who might be unwilling to move to the company’s location.
Post-COVID-19 workforces will be the most diverse in history. The pandemic has accelerated companies’ incorporation of dispersed contingent workers and remote-based full-time employees. Firms that restrict their recruiting to local talent or self-limit their use of capable workers based on their proximity to the office put themselves at a competitive disadvantage.
Most companies by now have implemented policies to recruit and hire more women and people of color and otherwise make their workplaces more diverse and inclusive. But few have expanded these directives to recognize geography as a source of hiring bias.
Metasys helps organizations source, attract, and hire the most qualified candidates regardless of their location. Our global database of talented workers in all categories—confirmed independent contractors, gig workers, those seeking full-time jobs, and more—enables us to vet and recommend the appropriate worker type to maximize return on investment. We also streamline the hiring and onboarding process, removing the hassle of regulatory compliance. Our contingent and full-time worker procurement solution is part of our comprehensive managed services. We can develop a tailored program to optimize any talent strategy and budget. For a demonstration of how Metasys can solve your workforce challenges, contact us today.