Building happy teams

Remote, cross-border teams: Answer to business success post-pandemic

5000 4000 Mita Mandawker

With the advent of the pandemic, remote teams have become a reality. As the months passed by, with little signs of COVID-19 letting us return to normal, people have become used to working from home and better at juggling the nitty-gritty of blurred lines between home and work.

It was a tough introduction, no doubt to companies globally to get used to the new way of working, but leaders and organizations are admitting that they are managing better now than they did at the start of the pandemic.

What does this spell for the teams in future? Will we see a return of back -to-office, co-located teams with some employees working remotely now and then? Will this mean we see more remote teams – teams spread not only across our homes but across different countries? Will this be a tangible reality in the years to come – an unexpected and welcome outcome of the pandemic?

At Shortlist we are in the business of helping companies across India and Kenya build their teams. Based on what we have been seeing in markets we work in and speaking with our clients, we believe remote, cross-border teams are here to stay, and that these hybrid, global teams will be the key to business success in the future, especially the post-pandemic world.

Look around: we are in the midst of a fundamental shift in what work looks like. Here is our take on what’s changing (rapidly) around you:

(1) The pandemic proved everyone wrong about remote work.

The pandemic myth-busted everything we held true regarding remote working. Two of the biggest reasons most companies traditionally do not believe in remote work are 1) the trust factor – they don’t trust their people will work at home when they are not in front of them and 2) the belief that people need to congregate in physical spaces in order to partake in company culture. As of March 2020, when, however, when most white-collar organizations around the world were forced to work from home, and, therefore, suddenly be 100% remote due to external circumstances, they quickly realised that these assumptions did not hold up. Even though no one was in the office and people were left to their own devices in their homes, work was still getting done and companies continued functioning. Remote work unequivocally has proven to work.

(2) Companies now need to respond to business demands flexibly

Over the course of the pandemic, a lot of companies downsized, letting go of staff to make sure they got through the crisis. Initially, these decisions were made in the short term in “survival” mode.

Now, faced with the question of ongoing sustainability (amidst a still present pandemic), companies are rethinking their decisions for the long term. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, Shopify and Slack have made the decision not to reopen offices…ever. Others have opted for a smaller office footprint and embracing optional remote work for a “hybrid” model.

In addition to being pandemic-friendly and flexible, embracing long-term remote work can provide huge cost savings and competitive advantage.

When companies begin to grow again, it will be easiest for those that have embraced remote work to scale. You can hire top talent across the globe to work for you while keeping your overheads light. You can hire them on a project basis to accomplish a particular purpose in a pre-decided timeframe. Remote workers allow companies to be flexible, adaptable, and nimble in a way that single-geo, in-person companies will never achieve.

(3) Did we mention that remote teams are lighter on budgets?

If your company is in a metropolitan city, when you hire locally you have to match the salary in terms of cost of living, leading to costlier local hires. When you open to the possibility of cross-border teams, the best talent across the globe is available to you, not just talent in your (possibly very expensive) back yard. For every remote hire, your overhead costs like office space, internet, utilities go down.

(4) Remote teams enable much broader diversity (it’s on you to ensure inclusion)

As the pandemic unfolded most companies shifted their teams into home offices (or bedrooms, or living rooms) and many employees were working remotely. While some companies have started returning to the office, some have given theirs up entirely. Many organizations will prefer a ‘hybrid’ approach – offering both remote and on-site work arrangements to their employees. This way of working has significant benefits – happier, satisfied employees to reduced overheads, and increased productivity.

However, to reap the benefits of this kind of arrangement, organizations will have to balance offices’ safety and digitally-enabled remote working and find ways to engage with their employees even when they are remote.

(5) Need for flexible, agile leadership

Diverse teams are more innovative, better at problem-solving and decision-making, better engaged and lead to increased profits. Diversity and Inclusion run the risk of becoming ‘buzzwords’ so it’s important to reiterate the impact of diverse teams:

  • A 2018 study of 1,000 companies across 12 countries by McKinsey & Co found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability.
  • Meanwhile, ethnic and cultural diversity resulted in a 33% increase in performance.

With co-located teams based out of a single office, there is a greater risk of homogeneity, especially in geographies where the talent pools are not diverse. When you go remote, you suddenly get a dynamic, diverse, cross-border, global pool of talent to recruit from. Your team can look like the United Nations without much effort. And, your diverse, global team will potentially be more productive and drive better results, which is crucial for tomorrow’s business.

It’s important to note that if teams are only diverse, without efforts to be inclusive and build a genuine sense of belonging, the results will fall short.

So, what’s next for teams? We anticipate seeing a lot more remote, cross-border, distributed teams as companies lean into more flexible, sustainable, and productive options. Will your next hires be remote? Have you looked beyond your (virtual) backyard? As experts on matching companies with the very best talent from 70+ countries across the globe, we can help.

We will be exploring more on cross-border, remote teams in upcoming blogs. Stay tuned here for more.


Are you hiring? Shortlist can help, we offer a wide range of recruitment solutions that help companies build great, diverse teams.

START BUILDING YOUR REMOTE, GLOBAL TEAM TODAY

Contact Shortlist Here

organization

How COVID-19 will re-shape organizations: Predictions for an uncertain future

6240 4160 Mita Mandawker

As much of the world moved to remote work in 2020, organization structures were challenged. Many companies with agile systems set up found it easier to transition to remote working than more traditional, in-person, hierarchical companies. It is difficult to predict what organizational structures will look like in the future. It is, however, safe to say that as economies, companies and people worldwide attempt to return to a different normal, a tide of changes will be seen globally when it comes to how companies operate and are structured.

As an organization obsessed with unlocking professional potential for companies and candidates, our clients have been posing this question to us over the past few months.

We don’t have a crystal ball (and even if we did, in 2020 it’s likely it would malfunction…), but we will share our predictions on what companies will look like in a post-pandemic world.

This is by no means written in stone, given the ever-changing nature of the business environment, as evidenced by COVID-19, but we hope it will give you some ideas and questions to think about as you think about planning for 2021 and beyond.

Five Predictions for 2021: What does a post-COVID organization look like?

Though there is no one-size-fits-all approach to organizational structures, the changing and uncertain environment means being agile, responsive and flexible will be an essential skill for every organization to cultivate.
Companies need to think creatively and innovatively to align their employees to the new normal and prepare them to work capably and fast in the ever-changing environment.

(1) Organizations will opt for flatter structures designed for agile teams

Rigid, hierarchical organizational structures impede speedy decision-making and execution. Leaner, flatter structures that allow organizations to respond quickly to emerging challenges and opportunities are the need of the day.

Post pandemic companies will work on reimagining structure, not in terms of hierarchy but in terms of dynamic cross-functional, project-based teams, to foster faster response time and collaboration.

However, with these flatter structures and cross-functional teams, the number of people reporting to a single manager will increase, even if the scope of reporting will be specific and contextual. Keep an eye on managers, who might have a more challenging time balancing everything, especially if you continue to work from home.

Overall, the organization of the tomorrow will be structured to sustain speed that will not only ensure business success and continuity but also employee engagement.

We have already started to see companies embrace technology more wholeheartedly to create effective, agile organizations and expect that trend to continue. Tools like Zoom, Forecast, Notion, Slack and Frame help companies communicate across teams – what technology will be next?

(2) We’ll see more cross-functional teams often staffed with part-time or project-based resources

Some of the biggest learnings from the pandemic have been the importance of operational efficiency, business effectiveness and collaboration across teams. The new normal demands the same and that we go one step further to ensure that.

The traditional way of structuring a company into several departments (divided by function/area/product/service/country) may be on its way out. Especially for companies that had to go through downsizing this year, flexibility in growth is key. Companies will push for the formation of temporary, project-driven, cross-functional teams that are more result-oriented, to become more agile and relevant.

(3) Job roles will be re-designed and many more will become remote
As the world changed this year, many companies also changed. Some grew exponentially. Others downsized or disappeared altogether. Some companies rolled out new products or services and others stayed the course. Many started to think about offering roles remotely, opening up much broader talent pools from other communities or countries.
The post-pandemic environment is going to prompt companies to do a thorough re-think of the current roles in the organization. Some roles will change, becoming more expansive stretching across functions. Some roles may become more specific and focused based on team needs or resource availability.

(4) Hybrid work will become the norm
As the pandemic unfolded most companies shifted their teams into home offices (or bedrooms, or living rooms) and many employees were working remotely. While some companies have started returning to the office, some have given theirs up entirely. Many organizations will prefer a ‘hybrid’ approach – offering both remote and on-site work arrangements to their employees. This way of working has significant benefits – happier, satisfied employees to reduced overheads, and increased productivity.

However, to reap the benefits of this kind of arrangement, organizations will have to balance offices’ safety and digitally-enabled remote working and find ways to engage with their employees even when they are remote.

(5) Need for flexible, agile leadership
As companies faced unprecedented circumstances, leaders were pushed into the spotlight as they exhibited empathy, humility, and care (like the CEO of Airbnb), or struggled to find their footing. Throughout the course of this year, company leaders have also had to be crisis communicators, strategic thinkers, new business line creators, and shoulders to lean on as their teams dealt with outside stressors.

And, as office chats and company town halls became a thing of the past, most leaders had to re-think their approach to communicating with their employee base. Employee engagement and health became more important than ever, so regular communication was also at the forefront.

Post pandemic, organizations will be keen on leaders who are not merely capable decision-makers, but also flexible, adaptable doers, capable of building and leading agile, winning teams.

 

COVID-19 has been the biggest global challenge of our times.

We can’t go back to the old ‘business as usual,’ a different normal is settling in. Companies should take this time to re-imagine and re-invent themselves, and to come back stronger. The future will be bright for the bold, agile and responsive companies.


Are you hiring? Shortlist can help, we offer a wide range of recruitment solutions that help companies build great, diverse teams.

Are you building team? We can help

Contact Shortlist Here

employee well-being

How to prioritize employee well-being during and after COVID-19

5407 3403 Mita Mandawker

COVID-19 has brought about the biggest work-from-home experiment of all times and altered not just the way we work, but how we live for a long time to come.

As business leaders across the world are navigating this period of uncertainty for their businesses and their employees, it is essential not to forget employee well-being.

One in three employers in the Asia Pacific believes COVID-19 will have a moderate to a large negative impact on employee well-being. Almost two in five employers plan to enhance mental health services and stress or resilience management for their employees over the next six months.

How companies react and align during this crisis will define your employer brand and help you retain top talent. Making sure that your talented employees stay happy at work is the key to surviving the post-COVID-19 world. Your workforce will remember the actions you take during this time and will reward you with loyalty.

Prioritizing employee well-being during the pandemic

Leadership team, please over-communicate

Employees are dealing with a lot of uncertainty, when it comes to their job status or when the offices will be re-starting and how returning to the physical workspace will be handled. It is an uncertain and stressful time.

Put your employees at ease and have company leaders communicate as much information as possible with them frequently. During the crisis, communication is the key, so overcommunicate as much as you can.

At Shortlist, when we went remote, our leadership team heightened the communication methods through emails, town halls, pulse checks, frequent check-ins and team standups. We made every attempt to convey all the information people would need to work remotely and gave them clarity upfront. It helped Shortlisters adjust better to remote work and come forth with any questions they had. The result was as a team, we have grown closer, and everyone is getting as comfortable (as they can under current circumstances) with remote work.

Resources for remote working and overall health

Most companies are giving access to resources that range from financial aid to upskilling opportunities.

Have you tried to include COVID-19 treatment in your medical benefits? That is an excellent way to start if you already offer medical benefits, include the coverage for COVID-19. Your employees will feel they are being taken care of.

72% of companies have also prioritised communicating about well-being apps to support their workforce in maintaining their physical and emotional wellbeing. 73% of employers have also been promoting telemedicine services to their workforce.

Make the work-from-home easy for your employees, make provisions for workstations, ergonomic equipment, laptops and internet, so that they can work efficiently remotely.

Encourage your team to learn and grow during COVID-19. Share MOOCs, courses from learning platforms like LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Coursera, etc. for the team to upskill.

Virtual team-building activities
Host virtual versions of all your in-person employee well-being activities that you used to have in the office. At Shortlist, we have all our previously in-person activities held online from town halls, weekly check-ins to team stand-ups.

We introduced new virtual bonding opportunities like cross-border virtual potlucks, where we randomly teamed people from our Mumbai, Hyderabad and Nairobi offices to catch up over a meal and get to know each other. Then we hosted a Global Games Night, which was a huge hit and sparked a wave of conversations across our WhatsApp group. We have folks from the team host unique learning sessions where they teach the broader team any particular skill they have like mandalas, recycling, etc.

These events have gone a long way in improving morale, keeping employees engaged and connected during the whole work-from-home situation.

Focus on mental health
Social distancing takes a toll on people, creates anxiety and stress. Make sure you are frequently checking in with your employees to see how they are doing. Listen to them, address their concerns and make sure they are heard.

Check-in on their workload, ask if they can manage it in addition to their responsibilities and chores at home and adjust accordingly.

Small considerations like these will go a long way in alleviating work-related stress when your employees know you can be flexible and understanding.

We all need to feel a human connection, especially more now than ever. Spend some time with your team catching up and talking about things outside of work.

Prioritizing employee welfare post-pandemic

One of the biggest things all companies will have to re-evaluate post-pandemic is their employee well-being policies and benefits or perks.

A lot of things will be outdated, as employees start living the new normal, as an employer, you are expected to do the same. In addition to retaining your top talent, when it comes to hiring the best talent, updated and appealing well-being and benefits policy will go a long way.

These are a couple of places, we think, employers should focus on re-evaluating policies so that they hold up in the post-pandemic world.

All-inclusive healthcare plans
Healthcare has become more pertinent than ever; COVID-19 has taught us to be prepared for the worse and not be caught off guard. This will figure out predominantly in future employment decisions. Comprehensive employer-provided healthcare will go a long way in helping employees feel secure and cared for. Prospective employees will be looking for employer-covered plans that will never put them in the position of making hard decisions to get the care they can’t afford.

Key services packages
As the world went in lockdown and people were forced to look out for options for various services from grocery shopping, upskilling, medical services, entertainment to fitness online, people have embraced these options wholeheartedly to make the quarantine life easier and safer.

Get creative when you revisit your benefits package. Take this idea of offering a bouquet of online services and seek partnerships to provide these benefits to your employees at a reduced price or free of cost. Your employees will appreciate the thought and be glad to avail the use of these services.

In uncertain times, how you treat your employees will be remembered for years to come. What all companies can learn from this situation is the importance of leading your people with empathy, flexibility, and compassion. Consumers and employees want to know they are working with companies doing good and treating their people right.

Companies that will take this time to do genuine good whether for their employees or communities and will reap the benefits when this storm has passed.


Are you hiring? Shortlist can help, we offer a wide range of recruitment solutions that help companies build great, diverse teams.

Are you building team? We can help

Contact Shortlist Here

why job descriptions matter

Why do job descriptions matter?

8192 5461 Mita Mandawker

Did you know that 61% of employed candidates said an interesting job description would prompt them to consider a new job? Another study says a prospective candidate spends only 14 seconds reading your job ad.
Yes, you heard right, 14 seconds. That’s it.

What does this say about the importance of job descriptions, given that they are the first outreach you do as an employer to your prospective candidates? They are incredibly important and can’t be ignored. You can’t simply copy-paste the same old job descriptions when you last closed that position, be it a 6 months ago or 3 years ago.

Our candidate survey in Kenya tells us that over half of the candidates use the job description to learn more about what it’s like to work at a company- over Glassdoor and all social media platforms. Employers must be mindful of making the best of the 14 seconds attention span to communicate why they make the best employers and what they have to offer to the candidates.

Crafting a compelling job description that will help you attract the best talent has never been more important in a competitive talent market.

We are going to share tips to keep in mind while drafting your job descriptions (or in other words, your sales pitch to the candidates).

A few pointers to keep in mind before drafting JDs:

Evaluate the context you are hiring for

The most important and overlooked step before drafting JDs is to evaluate the position you are hiring for in the context of the team you are hiring for. Every role you hire for is an opportunity for the company to drive the growth of the business. The best fit is found when there is growth for both the person you are hiring for the position and the company. Always try and find the best fit. The person you hire will flourish in the role and so will the organization in the area the person was hired for.

Think of future needs when writing JDs

Never write job descriptions based on what the “last person” in the role did. Your JD should reflect the current and future needs of the business that particular position will fulfil and not be based on what was being done historically. This is a forward-looking approach, sadly ignored by most companies. When JDs account for the future needs, the prospective candidate gets the most accurate picture of what the job would entail and can evaluate if they can be a right fit for the role.

The rationale for using this approach is, when job descriptions are posted without any evaluation or deliberation about the needs of the business, they don’t tend to account for the role changes that occur over time. As a result, quite a few job seekers may not be able to identify with the role you have scripted and you may lose out on great talent.

Remember you are selling your job
Before you start reading on the minutiae of writing job descriptions, remember you are selling the role or the open position. Make sure you give compelling reasons to candidates to leave their current workplace or choose your job over others in the market. Make it easy for them to decide – share details of the perks, benefits that you offer and most importantly how the role contributes towards the company’s growth.

Writing winning job descriptions

We have already done one super informative deep dive into writing engaging and inclusive job descriptions earlier here. We stand by those tips and will be sharing some more below to help you improve your ability to write great job descriptions.

First impressions are important
Job descriptions are often the first point of contact the candidates will have with your company and the way it is written will shape their impression of your organization. Mistakes in your job description turn off the candidate and leave them with a negative impression, much the same as the impact of when you see grammatical mistakes or jargon in resumes.

So mind your ps and qs, and have someone double-check the copy before going live with the job posts.

Showcase your culture, use multimedia
Get creative, use images and videos to communicate your organisation’s vision, mission and values. Don’t just rely on plain text to do all of the work. Our experience (as a staffing and recruiting company) has shown us that candidates engage well with JDs that have images and videos showcasing your work culture and people. It gives them a sense of your culture and employer brand.

Include pictures of your office, staff and traditions, and work environment to give an idea about how your team works. This helps candidates understand your culture and positions you as an attractive employer.

Involve current employees in writing job descriptions
Most often, the HR department is involved in writing job descriptions and they traditionally do it based on the last JD they had written for the role. Involve current employees working in that position or department to make sure that JD reflects the realities of the job and future growth. A person working in the position is in the best place to tell you if what you have in JD is what they do and what the next person can expect when they step in the role.

The more accurate a description you share, the better understanding your candidates will have of the role.

Bust biases
We can never stress this enough – when you say, you are an equal opportunities employer and do not discriminate against candidates based on their gender, race, sexuality, etc. it’s important that your JDs also reflect that.

Make sure you are not using gendered language in the JD. For example, words such as ninja, rockstar, and guru, are associated with male stereotypes, while words such as support, understand and interpersonal are associated with female stereotypes. Gender-biased language can be subtle, but it is still detrimental. Recent data has also shown that gender-neutral language can help companies attract a more diverse talent pool and fill vacancies faster. While biased language deters highly qualified talent from applying by unconsciously lowering their sense of fitting in the role and the organization.

We hope all this has given you a good idea of why job descriptions matter and how writing a great JD will help communicate an honest picture of your position and brand to the prospective candidates. This will help you attract the best talent to your company.


Are you hiring? Shortlist can help, we offer a wide range of recruitment solutions that help companies build great, diverse teams.

Building team in India
Building team in Kenya

Contact Shortlist Here

breaks

Break From Home

1405 1470 Alana Rush

As a teacher in my first job after college, leaving campus on school breaks meant truly disconnecting: no messages from parents, no papers to grade, no reports to file. Holidays were refreshing because it was really easy to disconnect.

In contrast, it’s pretty difficult to take a proper break while you’re “Out Of Office” if your team and your work are still going full speed. And, if it’s difficult to disconnect from an actual beach somewhere, imagine how hard it is to disconnect when you’re taking time off from your couch (aka “your office”).

What we have heard from our team this year won’t be a surprise to anyone leading a team in 2020: living at work (or ‘sleeping at the office’…either is more accurate than ‘working from home’), health scares, economic uncertainty, natural disasters and whatever else 2020 is throwing our way are all super stressful.

But, even though everyone needs a break more than ever, most of our team members have barely taken any annual leave yet this year.

What to do with excess vacation days?

Many companies in 2020 share our challenge of having excess vacation days. Here are some of the common ways companies are addressing this:

Use it or Lose it – Many companies have implemented “use it or lose it” policies where employees are asked to use a certain number of annual leave days in a month or quarter. If they don’t, the days ‘disappear.’ This is a great option, especially for larger companies.

Summer Fridays or 4-Day Work Weeks – Summer Fridays (aka taking every Friday from roughly June through August off or having a half-day) are a New York City staple. Some companies have moved to a mandatory four-day work week to help employees use up their vacation days and take some time off.

A Collective Break – Though this sounds like the most difficult option, it’s worth exploring. Even if you can only get everyone on board to take one day off together, it could mean your team is more energized and excited as a result. In a bigger company, you might try doing this at the team level.

We have decided to go on a collective break, to put our people first: at the end of August, our whole company across three offices is taking three full days off, together (harkening back to lessons learned in my school teacher days).

No meetings, no calls, no emails, no deliverables, no ‘catching up on work’ – just some time away to spend with family, reading, watching TV, finding some moments of zen, or doing anything that’s not work.

It has taken extra coordination to get all of our team, our clients, our partners, and our tech sprints on the same page. But we know that if we do this successfully, everyone will come back to the office – er, virtual meeting room – refreshed and recharged.

One of our core values is “Be A Whole Person.” While we can’t control a pandemic or open up travel to exotic beaches, we can work together to support our team’s mental health, even if it is only a few days at a time.

Our “Break From Home” is one way we’re supporting our team’s mental health. In lieu of holiday restaurant and hotel recommendations, we crowd-sourced a few of our favorite meditation apps, books, shows, and relaxing hobbies, and invite you to share your own with us, too! How are you supporting your teams and promoting self-care? Let us know!

#BreakfromHome #mentalhealth #selfcare #Shortlist #BeAWholePerson