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Working Remotely

I get this request from potential candidates more often than I care to count: “I’d love to find a position that would allow me to work remotely a few days a week.” Most recently, I had a very enlightening conversation with a very sharp Millennial who said, “I have been looking for a position where I could work remotely part of the time and if I don’t find it in the next 5 years, I am going to start my own company and create it.” He went on to say with WebEx, Skype, email and cloud-based file sharing and software along with putting good reporting systems in place, why do I physically need to be sitting at my desk from 8-5? He even offered that in his personal situation, he could be more productive outside the office than in based on the number of mindless interruptions he faces with people walking by his office to shoot the bull.

He continued with the following example: Last week, my boss asked me about a specific design standard and I shared with him how I did it. He said he wanted to research it further so he went back to his desk, he researched the design standard and found it. His boss then printed it and walked back into my candidate’s office and handed it to him stating that he was correct and wanted to share it with him. So, my candidate said to me that he folded the piece of paper and put it in the recycle bin and said to me, “He could have emailed that to me.”

Next conversation with a VP of HR for one of my best clients regarding telecommuting that started after I shared a candidate who was looking for telecommuting a few days a week so that he could be with his family a few hours away until he could relocate next year. “None of our senior guys like it and it’s a very tough sell for anyone in our organization unless there are extenuating circumstances and even then, they really don’t like it.”

So, we are closing out on 2017, almost 2 decades into the 21st century. We have a major talent shortage. We have congested highways that make work/life balance a challenge when you add 2-3 hours of commuting each day to a 10-hour work day. We have all this fancy technology but no one seems comfortable breaking out of the “This- is- the- way- we- have- always- done- it” mode. Architecture and Engineering firms are competing and fighting for employees. In most markets, it’s akin to trying to fill a swimming pool by dipping water from one end of the pool and pouring it in the other. It begs the question: Do A&E firms shy away from setting up more remote work situations because there is a solid reason for it, or is because “we’re old-school” and that’s the way we have always done it?

Does your firm allow telecommuting? From your professional viewpoint, what are the pro’s and con’s? If you enacted this as a perk, do you think you would be able to attract more top talent to work on your team?

Either way, I’ll be following this young engineer who has a broader vision of how things could be!

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