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New working practices set to continue

As a specialist recruiter in the building products and commercial interiors sector, Beaumont Wood has undertaken a detailed survey into the staffing plans of our industry post-pandemic, and it has highlighted some interesting trends we’d like to share.

Many businesses face a difficult decision – whether to continue with their current arrangements with those who can working from home or revert to their former set-up. What’s clear is that there’s a new type of role emerging in the jobs market, a hybrid of part office working and part remote working. We’ve taken a look at how this may affect recruitment of particular roles in the future.

Hybrid roles

The BBC reported in May that many of this country’s largest employers intend to continue with some home working, with over a million employees facing no full-time return to the office. But, does this shift follow through into the building products and contract interior sector? When asked, over 65% of our participants said they expected more staff than usual to continue working from home and over 50% have more than half currently doing this. A staggering statistic given the fluid nature of our industry. Only 9% currently had no staff working from home.  

Another interesting insight was the infrequency of visiting the office, with over half of our survey participants stating that those working from home attended the office once every two weeks or less.

What are the concerns from working remotely?

There were two major concerns that were particularly highlighted in the results of our survey. Firstly, managing team morale with over 65% of respondents identifying this as a potential difficulty. Developing effective customer relationships also caused some apprehension with 48% of those surveyed. Other notable issues could be collaboration between teams (39%), the professional image portrayed (30%) and maintaining productivity (26%).

How does a change in working practices affect sales teams?

We have taken a look at whether traditional sales functions are a thing of the past in our survey by asking respondents whether they anticipate any major changes in sales and business development positions. 70% said that it was still important for home-based sales people to visit a client in person and over 50% felt they had a good understanding of procedures to enable safe customer visits.

When asked if there would be the same number or fewer in-person sales visits, our respondents were split with 47% feeling there would be the same number as before and 43% suggesting there would be less.

So, it doesn’t look like video calls will replace the need for face to face meetings in sales jobs but our survey did highlight that 65% were proficient at video meetings. The most likely outcome will be a good mix of the two – a practical solution that will reduce travel time and improve productivity but maintain the major benefits of developing customer relationships that are so often vital in an in-person experience.

How has the pandemic affected the use of premises?

Those of our respondents who have a showroom will continue to use it with 44% of those surveyed confirming this plan and 65% were confident that customers visiting their offices would be safe. Some 17% have reduced, or are planning to reduce, their office space.

What changes are anticipated in staffing?

When asked if there would be new skills required in their team, the responses were pretty evenly split with 52% saying yes and 48% anticipating the same skill requirements as before. We then looked at marketing as a specific business area that may face some changes. 61% of those surveyed said they wanted to keep in touch with their database more regularly with marketing and promotions. This thought process followed through in our question about the increased use of contract sales and marketing staff, where 48% thought it was likely that there would be a higher use of these roles in the future.

Identifying the right skills for your business

After a year of unknowns, it seems the industry and the economy as a whole are bouncing back. There’s now a clearer picture of how our sector will thrive in the future and your staff are a huge part of this. Our personal, professional service is there to help you recruit the right skills for your business and we have over 20 years of experience in hand-picking quality applicants that can really add value.

If you’re unsure of what skills you need, take a look at our blog post on filling the skills gap in your team and get in touch for more information.