I can say this confidently as we have tried and trusted this model for the past 12 years and it is working wonderfully well.
Today, the technology industry is left with no other choice but to do Shelter-in-Place and WFH to maintain social distancing. While all of us are following this model now, as a tradition we have been operating virtually from the time of our inception – more than half of our recruitment team (out of a 60-member team) operates from home by design and most of them are highly qualified engineers or Postgraduates. We have recruiters who are with us for the past 3 years, 5 years, 7 years and even 11 years… completely operating from home. So, lockdown is business-as-usual for them except that they have more bandwidth now.
When we started GK HR Consulting in the year 2008, in parallel, the recession had also kicked in. It affected the market pretty badly at that time. Looking back, it was a blessing for us, as it gave us an opportunity to build the team and increase our delivery capacity. By the time the market woke up, we were also up and ready for delivery.
Being a Bootstrap organization, we had decided to keep the cost low and therefore, we hired the first set of experienced recruiters and gave them the WFH option as a pilot. I think this was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It clicked and worked wonderfully well for us. I had a strong team of experienced (a good mix of corporate and consulting background) recruiters handpicked by me from the well-known references which I had received during that time. Some of them from the initial batch are still with us.
I realized during this experiment that the availability of experienced & talented recruiters who are ready to operate from home is high, just that they need to be given the right environment, tools, requisitions & clients to operate with.
These folks chose to operate from home for good – to be there when their child comes back from school, to make sure the house is in order for aged parents & in-laws, to maintain overall equilibrium at home. For generations, women have been ‘working from home’ and ‘working for home’. It comes naturally to them. From the recruitment viewpoint, I see this as an untapped and unexplored talent market. Also, nowadays such options or not restricted to one gender. We also had some talented male recruiters who chose to work from home to take care of their child, parents, and personal comfort. That’s why I believe that it can work for everyone. Some of us may not be able to return to full-time work. but, are ready to contribute to and work from wherever we are.
In India, we have this social stigma that a WFH job means that either someone has lost the job and is using WFH as a filler/stopgap till they get back to full-time office work or maybe, their skills are outdated.
Though mine was a conscious decision to move out of corporate and do something on my own when I reached out to my contacts to convey the same most of them (not all) had one question to ask, ‘Are you operating from home, meaning are you jobless?’ I saw nothing wrong about that comment. I myself was not ready to work from home when I wanted to build a WFH team (old school of thought 😊), and therefore, I occupied a small office space and operated from there in the beginning.
Another stigma was that a WFH job will not fetch you a regular fixed income and WFH generally works on a commission basis. Both are incorrect in GKHRC’s case. GKHRC recruiters get paid a fixed salary plus handsome incentive. Some of our team members are the primary regular income generators in the family with the convenience of operating from home. How’s that!
Now after many years of working when we look back, things have changed drastically. WFH concept itself has gone through a transformation. I am hoping that Covid’19 will change our mindset and new markets will open up. I strongly believe that in the future, these talents will be in great demand.
Bottom line, what are the important ingredients of a successful virtual company. For us, it is 3T’s – Trust (mutual), Transparency and Treating people fairly.
We have experienced recruiters across India operating virtually for the past many years, though we hardly meet them face to face, with our robust team communication process they know clearly what their role is, what is expected of them, what is happening within the company, the amount of billing we do for their hires.
No micromanagement! They can interact with anyone in the team directly without any restrictions. The policies, process, salary, incentives are standardized for both WFH staff and in-office staff.
I am sure many of you have had good WFH experience and some of you would have got a chance to implement WFH policy for your company. I would be happy to hear about your experience.
Let me close my comments with how I began: ‘Work From Home (WFH) is here to stay!’