REMOTE WORK NOT AN OPTION? GOOD LUCK.

by Matt Thomas

Since Core Ventures opened up our doors in January 2017 we have had a fully remote workforce. We had, and still have, a brick and mortar office, but coming in has always been optional outside of a handful of regularly scheduled meetings. The reasoning had been that you can recruit from anywhere and the benefits of being able to work from home far outweigh the cons. Also, it allowed us to attract working moms who weren’t quite ready to jump all the way back into a full-time, in-office, work schedule. More on that later.

In January of 2020 though, our team had grown significantly and we were starting to get more serious and intentional about our culture. I made the decision to pivot from fully remote to partially remote, with plans for all team members to spend half of their time at the office on designated days. The reasoning behind this decision wasn’t complicated. I felt that with a growing team we risked being disconnected and that building culture would be slower if we weren’t rubbing elbows on a regular basis. I decided to roll out this new policy on March 12th at our all-team meeting. That’s March 12th of 2020.

I decided to roll out this new policy on March 12th at our all-team meeting. That’s March 12th of 2020.

A week later the pandemic went into overdrive and the state said working at an office with other humans was no longer an option for our industry. Perfect. Now, I have swung and missed on big ideas more than most, but this one is in the hall of fame. We shelved the new policy and in Q3 when our team started growing again it was pretty clear that we needed to view the opportunity to provide flexible work as an advantage and not an impediment. Today our team is spread out across four states with the majority here in Denver. We’ve given our people complete flexibility over their preferred work environment and productivity is up across the board.

For now, though, I would like to speak directly to companies who are reticent to implement a flexible work policy. Setting aside that there is no real end in sight for the pandemic, there are certain realities that every business needs to face that are not going away.

I will save a discussion on how to set up a flexible work environment for another day because there is a lot we’ve learned over the last four years. For now, though, I would like to speak directly to companies who are reticent to implement a flexible work policy. Setting aside that there is no real end in sight for the pandemic, there are certain realities that every business needs to face that are not going away. From where I sit, covid-19 has accelerated a shift that was already happening in businesses all over the world. Remote work isn’t new, but overnight it was forced on everyone and the impact it’s had on the talent market is significant.

Last week I was in Chicago with a group of CEOs leading a discussion on how the pandemic has impacted the job market. When the conversation shifted toward remote work about half the room was noticeably uncomfortable. A quick poll revealed that at least 50% were unwilling to change company policy regarding remote work. Sure there were some in specific industries that don’t have the option but most did to varying degrees. We are a recruiting firm, so on any given day my team is vetting and assessing hundreds of candidates from all over the country. In 99 out of 100 interviews this question comes up, “Is remote work an option?” More often than not the answer can be a deal-breaker.

In 99 out of 100 interviews this question comes up, “Is remote work an option?” More often than not the answer can be a deal-breaker.

The short version is that top talent will still be top talent regardless of whether they work at home or in the office. Top talent isn’t easy to land. Do you want to disqualify yourself before the race starts? It is simple math. If your talent pool is limited to those people who live in your region or those who are willing to move to your city then you only have access to a fraction of what you would have otherwise. Do you want an immediate advantage on the hiring front? Open up to remote work as an option. Even a hybrid model is a big step in the right direction. Not open to remote work? Good luck.