With the co-working industry still at a "relatively nascent stage of development" when compared to other segments of the commercial real estate industry, it is often challenging to find good candidates who have experience working in it, says Michelle Lee, Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer, JustCo.
To mitigate this talent crunch, HR teams have had to, many times, turn to outstanding candidates from adjacent industries, she tells Priya Sunil.
But that's not the only talent challenge plaguing HR teams in this industry. Lee elaborates: "It is also tough to find candidates who are open to pursuing careers in emerging industries such as the co-working sector, as there might be a deviation of job scope from their previous role.
"To add on, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably upended the way of work and accelerated the implementation of hybrid work models across the globe. More employees have gradually gotten used to hybrid work and are more inclined towards the continuance of this work model in the long run."
Whether companies allow a hybrid work model that leads to better work-life balance has also become a key factor of consideration for many jobseekers, she highlights.
"However, not all companies are ready to fully embrace such policies. This may pose a huge challenge for HR professionals recruiting talents who prefer remote work. Such talents may reject potential job offers from companies that do not adopt flexible work arrangements."
How have these challenges grown in size in recent times, and how are leaders like Lee, whose remit covers 10 cities in Asia Pacific; as well as the industry as a whole, tackling them? Priya Sunil learns more from Lee in this edition of Industry Insider.
Sector spotlight: Co-working
Based in: Singapore (with a regional remit)
Key developments that are intensifying talent challenges
On a global level, emerging trends such as 'quiet quitting' and 'Great Resignation' have exacerbated the challenges faced by HR professionals, be it the retention or attraction of talents. The pandemic has made many individuals rethink their priorities in life. With the recalibration of career goals, many jobseekers have chosen to place personal wellbeing over attractive remuneration packages or career progression.
Although many employers acknowledge the shift in mindset for many jobseekers, their HR practices may not evolve fast enough to cater to the changing needs. For example, despite the rising popularity of the work-from-anywhere model, some companies still insist on getting employees back to the office. As a result, they face resistance from employees who prefer to work remotely.
There are also companies that are concerned about employees who will skive off work if remote work is allowed. The key to optimising a flexible work policy is by forming mutual trust and understanding between employees and their employers.
Strategies that have failed, and that have worked, in tackling this challenge
HR professionals often prioritise the expectations of senior management over the needs of employees.
Many employees who opt for hybrid work enjoy the large degree of flexibility (work-from-anywhere model) and the human connections such a work model offers. As a result, mandatory policies to make employees return to the office will not work well when the majority are looking to boost productivity and personal wellbeing through flexible work arrangements.
HR professionals should bear in mind the importance of achieving a balance between the needs of the organisation and their employees when they are developing hybrid work policies. Companies should also keep up with the times and learn how to measure productivity based on the employee’s performance and not where the employee chooses to work.
They should also leverage online workspace solution platforms that enable employees to book their preferred workspaces based on the individual’s schedule, to maximise collaborative output when they work in the office. At the same time, they should leverage space utilisation data to have a better understanding of employee behaviour.
This will help employers achieve the desired optimal outcome of hybrid work policies. For instance, HR could tap into such data and explore how to optimise employee engagement.
How CPOs are proactively preparing for the future workplace
HR professionals should recognise the importance of prioritising employees’ needs and how this will lead to talent retention in the long run. They should also tap into available online workspace management solutions to harness data on employee behaviour. This data will provide HR professionals with insights into how employers can create a more conducive work environment or better optimise the benefits of hybrid work policies.
Image / Provided (the interviewee, Michelle Lee)