Every relationship is different, but it’s fair to say in most families the mother puts their career on the back burner during the childbearing years. And when it comes time to restart one’s career, it’s very common that mums are often seeking a more flexible, gradual return to the workforce rather than launching into a full time, on-site role. Ideally, they were looking for 2, maybe 3 days per week, probably working from home where possible.
It’s a similar tale for those that chose to seachange or treechange to regional Australia. The regional Australian job market is a very different beast to that of the capital cities. The markets aren’t just simply scaled-down versions of the capital cities – rather whole areas of the job market cease to exist. Many Seachangers too were looking to put their skills to work a few days a week rather than on a full-time basis, obviously working remotely.
Often they were happy to slot in a run or two lower than where they might have typically sat in the hierarchy & payscale, understanding it was hard to command the same responsibilities & salary figures people in the office full time may have commanded.
For many (perhaps, most) employers though, it all sat in the too hard basket. They wanted people who could be on-site and work full time. The thinking was typical, that this was the only way you could manage people effectively, and the only way you could establish a strong sense of team. Why can’t someone really be 100% focused on their career and work, if they are juggling toddlers or had chosen to move to Byron Bay?
Fast forward to 2020. All of a sudden working remotely has been thrust upon businesses en masse. Our feeling is that COVID will demolish the stigmas around working remotely and working part-time.
Over the last 6 months, we’ve proved that working remotely doesn’t mean you’ve got your feet on the desk. Businesses have proven that working remotely can be highly effective, especially given the availability and accessibility of tools like Zoom, Hangouts, Google docs and Office365. Working remotely is no longer seen as an impediment to delivering or being part of a team.
There’s also newfound respect for mental health and well-being. COVID drove up the stress levels of many, and companies typically responded by allowing staff members to drop back to 4 day weeks or 9 day fortnights, and focus that bit more on personal mental well-being. Yes, in some cases employers’ hands were forced by business conditions, and programs like Jobkeeper facilitated such changes. Nonetheless, the practical upshot was more people not working the 38-hour working week.
So if we’re now comfortable with people working remotely and part-time, shouldn’t we revisit working mothers and regional candidates as a possible candidate pool? On both fronts there are some fantastically skilled candidates available, itching to get back into the job market.
We’d certainly recommend considering opening your next search up to candidates working at least one day a week remotely, ideally with some flexibility around starting and finishing times. There’s definitely an appetite for such things in the market.
Talk to us here at SustainAbility Consulting to understand how other businesses are changing their search parameters to tap into these candidate pools and what the multitude of benefits are.