I work from home, I employ someone to work from home and I am still (relatively!) successful. So, how does it work for me but not for so many?

What is the secret of successful working from home as a recruiter?

How many of you are reading this whilst sat in the office (hoping the boss can’t see that you are on Undercover Recruiter)? Stick your hand up if you are in your home office reading this at your leisure?

Should recruitment businesses advocate home working? Has this worked for you in your role or do you wish your employer would get wise to the growing trend of home based recruiters? Read on for some tips!

How do I do it?

I am often asked how I cope working from my home office – something I have always been proud of! I go out and visit 100% of my clients and candidates, as I have always viewed paying for an external office as something of an unnecessary extravagance. I believe there is an advantage to me being flexible meeting candidates where is convenient to them rather than me telling them to come to me!

Those who have set up their own consultancies have turned to me for advice and guidance and have asked how I have

  1. stayed motivated and
  2. ensured I am successful…

…even though I do this from a 5th bedroom and not from a plush Spinningfields (or the like) office!

Should you do it?

I think to be able to work from home successfully as a recruiter, as an employee, you need to do the following:

  • Have a separate work space – This is so you can close the door and have your work time. I have strict rules – I don’t go in the office on the weekend (except for the kids to use the PC to do their online homework). It also means that when I am in the office, I shut the door so I am not distracted by the “home” issues (ESPECIALLY the permanent pile of washing!) but I am in a room that is “work”.
  • Create a pleasant working space – …that you feel comfortable in, as you would in any office, but ensure it is a work space. It’s not a good idea to share the space with an ironing board or the kids toys. My office is strictly work although I do allow the kids to write me encouraging messages/draw pictures on a designated part of my white board (ahhh, how sweet!).
  • Set strict work hours for yourself – Ideally aim to switch off otherwise it becomes tempting to turn on at 6.30am and off at 10.30pm. Whilst that is great as a one off (I did this the other day), I wouldn’t encourage it as a norm as it will result in burn out very quickly!
  • Don’t allow work to creep into actual home – Although I can boast that I have managed offers whilst at the park/school gates/on holiday etc, I would suggest you stick to your home office where possible!
  • Get out and about as often as you can – This is to ensure you don’t become isolated by your own home. Arrange your appointments in logistical sense so it is a valuable use of your time – if that means working from head office once a week to ensure you are up to date with company status then so be it.
  • Update your line manager once a day – (as a minimum online) so that they can see what you are doing and they know the trust has been rewarded accordingly!
  • Work for an employer who has invested in the cloudJust so you can update if you are on the go a lot!

Should you let them do it?

If you are an employer considering home workers:

  • Ensure you have invested in and tested a cloud based system – so your home-based employee can access all the systems but equally so you can monitor their activity accordingly.
  • Only make the home working available for those who a) have earned your trust, b) have shown they are self motivated to just get on with it and c) set some clear targets to assess after 1 month, 3 months etc.
  • Arrange regular visits to your home based staff on ad hoc basis to ensure they are working efficiently.
  • Be available when they need you.

It works for them!

I asked the owner and MD of a recruitment business, Thomas Brandrick of Domus Recruitment (which employs a number of home based recruiters), how he ensure this works best for him and his employees:

“It works extremely well for us and enables us to bring highly experienced recruiters back into the industry that would have otherwise been lost. The average amount of years of recruitment experience per consultant at Domus is 11years and many simply can’t do the normal hours demanded by traditional set ups and at the same time feel they have the self discipline to manage themselves and don’t need authoritarian, KPI heavy management or alike. Self discipline for me is the key. If you aren’t truthful with yourself and make yourself feel comforted by having admin day after admin day, you won’t make it work! When I started Domus from home before we grew, my boss was guilt! If I hadn’t put it in, in the way I knew I should, I gave myself a hard time and made sure I came back in with an aggressive plan of attack. What any home worker should focus on is ‘staying close to the money’! If your activities have too distant a return on investment, they are the wrong ones. From an employer’s perspective the question other businesses ask me is how do you make sure people don’t take the database and do it for themselves, but I think this is a product of the ‘MI6’ atmosphere that I’ve experienced in previous employment and this paranoia will hamper the facilitation of good people needing work/ life balance or being able to run and efficient low cost model. You, the employer, being in recruitment, should be able to profile people and gain two way trust enough to make good decisions. It’s worked for me albeit that we now have an office and a mixed model these days, but my proudest achievement to-date is making £1.24 million in my old basement!”

Who shouldn’t work from home?

  • Those who NEED the company of others to bounce ideas off and have banter with.
  • Those who need to be monitored still, ie. Still learning how to recruit.
  • Anyone who needs micromanaging or needs to be told what they are doing
  • Anyone who has blown their employers trust.

Go for it?

It isn’t easy working from home. I know myself how hit and miss it can be when hiring people who will be homebased but it really isn’t for everyone. However, in an ever changing world of cloud integrated databases combined with constantly developing mobile technology I firmly believe that the OPTION of homeworking should be made available, ESPECIALLY to working parents/mums who HAVE to work and NEED that extra flexibility. But that is a topic for another blog- if that subject interests you, have you joined my group on LinkedIn, “Working Mums in Recruitment”? Come over and say hi.

About Lysha Holmes

Lysha Holmes is founding director of Qui Recruitment established in 2005 to completely challenge the traditionally poorly perceived service offered by other Rec 2 Rec providers. Lysha as Qui Recruitment is dedicated to representing the best talent to the best suited roles, focussing on placing recruiters of all levels in a candidate led service across the NW.

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