Office based model


The office versus remote versus hybrid working situation is a conundrum. You’ve probably been talking about since we were first put into lockdown, debating what would happen when restrictions eased. So much so that you’re possibly sick of the subject. You’ve probably read, or at least seen, multiple articles about the subject already.

The challenge isn’t going anywhere soon though, and it is having significant knock-on effects when it comes to recruiting.

Plus, for membership organisations like yours, the challenges are different. After all, you’re a people-based organisation. Whether you’re a political party, a governing body or a membership-based company, people are at the heart of what you do, so surely getting everyone back in the room is the aim.

Trigger warning: Candidates are pulling out of interviews with you

As recruiters, we find that candidates are often more honest with us and open with their feedback than they would be with you, the hiring company. The position you are recruiting for might be a fantastic opportunity, but you need to be aware, jobs are plentiful at the moment. Granted, niche roles at senior levels in membership organisations are harder to come by, but for more entry or mid-level roles, it is very much a candidate led market.

If you are hiring and finding it difficult to attract candidates here’s why:

  • Candidates are pulling out of face-to-face interviews especially if they have been offered video interviews elsewhere. Certainly, for a first stage interview, video is the way to go. We’ve all seen how good the quality of video calls is. Whether you use Zoom, a simple FaceTime call or more advanced video interviewing software. It’s a great way to cover the introduction and interview basics before you decide who to shortlist.

If a candidate needs to take time out of their day and have to travel to a face-to-face interview with you, or they can schedule a video interview they can do from home without too much disruption, which are they going to choose? Not exactly a head-scratcher is it (for more video interviewing tips head here).

  • You’ve stipulated it’s an office-based role with no work from home

Haven’t we all become accustomed to working from home? The last 18 months might not have suited everyone, but most candidates have adapted their working style and created home offices or working spaces. They’ve enjoyed a better work-life balance, the ability to do the school run or squeeze in a gym session pre- or post-work since they are not wasting time commuting. Candidates will take themselves out of the recruitment process if your working arrangements are too rigid.

Most are asking for at least one day of working remotely, but 2 or 3 is generally the preference. Being honest, no one is missing the commute so having that balance is key.

  • You’ve stipulated the role is 100% work from home

This sounds contradictory to the point above but as mentioned, working from home hasn’t suited everyone. If the role in your membership organisation is more junior to mid-level, it’s a graduate-level role or perhaps with a not-for-profit company and the salary reflects this, then the likely candidates are less likely to have disposable income to invest in working from home kit, and potentially less space to work effectively from home.

Remember that home-based workers should be treated the same as if they joined you in the office. They need the same office set-up, technology, software and even an office chair that allows them to work effectively.

What else do you need to consider when it comes to recruiting?

  • Salary and benefits on offer

Most people noticed a significant drop in their day-to-day spending over the last 18 months. No travel costs associated with commuting, no stops at the coffee shop, no lunches out, no after-work drinks. It made us realise how much we spent on these necessities (and luxuries!) Couple this with increasing costs of living now and your candidate’s financial awareness is on point. If you are offering a salary and benefits package that fitted with your membership organisation of 2 years ago, you need to have a rethink. Working with a specialist recruiter can open the door for advice on realistic and attractive packages. (Side note, keep an eye out for the Membership Bespoke Salary Survey coming soon).

  • Productivity – this is an argument that will run and run when it comes to where people work. Working from home there is the temptation to put a quick load of washing on during the day, or walk the dog at lunchtime, maybe grab a quick episode of the box set. In reality, few people do this (except maybe the washing, but surely that’s excusable). Given that when you’re in the office there is more opportunity to chat, get distracted by colleagues, or get pulled into meetings that could easily have been an email then working remotely can make people more productive. Open communication and setting expectations is crucial for everyone involved.

Remember, Thursday is the new Friday

Think about what is doable for your role and your membership organisation. Of course, some office-based work is to be expected now. Candidates know that. However, it’s worth being open to flexibility and letting the right candidate set their boundaries. If you empower your team to set their working arrangements, it increases staff retention rates and improves recruitment.

Many colleagues are choosing a hybrid model of working with office-based days in the mid-week. Thursday is very much becoming the new Friday, particularly for city-based companies like London and Birmingham. If you are holding external meetings or in-person events for your member base, then go for mid-week.

For more advice about hiring trends in membership organisations, contact the team at Membership Bespoke.