Change is the newest constant, and welcomes opportunity
From juggling childcare, to moving areas, to how young people look for their first roles, the pandemic has prompted a change in the way people perceive their jobs and feel about their commutes like no other event in recent history. Many who would previously have spent three hours a day travelling by train or car simply won’t entertain that notion in 2022. Parents previously not back in time to tuck their kids in now get to do so every night; millennials wanting to work in the capital can do so from home, no longer at the mercy of London’s rental madness; and those that dream of retiring to Somerset at 70 have realised they needn’t wait.
Because remote working is the future.
Even those businesses asking staff to be in a couple of times a week (like us here at Berkeley – we’ve missed in-office collaboration, chats, and more importantly, takeaways and office drinks), twice a month, or a handful of times a year, won’t dissuade many from that £200,000 five-bed house in the South West, well worth the occasional £200, five-hour train journey.
This lifestyle change has ignited an understandable desire for freedom – freedom to readdress the work/life balance, freedom for people to shape their lives how they want. And this has led to huge repercussions when it comes to recruitment and retention. Before, lives were squeezed in around jobs. Living arrangements and travel dictated by proximity to an office. This barrier has been lifted, and with location no longer a factor, jobs that were changed once every five years are now being changed yearly. Where people would spend a couple of years in a role, they’re now spending six months. People are taking advantage of an increasingly fluid job market, and bartering ever better work perks along the way.
Put simply, employees are now sellers in a buyers’ market. Never has recruitment been such a challenge – and PR has very much felt this sting.
But whilst change can be frustrating and unnerving, PR as a sector must encourage and embrace it. Experience and hindsight bring obvious benefits to comms, but a new way of thinking, a fresh pair of eyes or new blood all bring huge advantages too. It’s all too easy for methods to become stagnant, but simple changes – including just questioning why something is being done – can keep us evolving.
Some positive changes I’ve witnessed at Berkeley in recent months include the introduction of a buddy system to help our new recruits – especially those new to PR – get up to speed quickly in our now mostly-remote hybrid work setting. One of our longest-standing colleagues has retained her position while moving to Prague, becoming our first Berkeley bod in the Czech Republic, and we’ve seen account directors join us from both Plymouth and France. So while we are asking our team to come into the office twice a week, to ensure everyone can enjoy the collaboration and perks that in-office working brings, we also recognise that flexibility is key, and good talent should never be ignored!
I’d encourage you not to be too disheartened as your PR team keeps evolving. Change is the newest constant, and for all the frustrations it can bring, it welcomes in even more opportunity.