How HR Departments Can Take Advantage of Remote and Freelance Talent

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Feb 13, 2020
This article is part of a series called Remote Work.

If you’ve spent any amount of time on the Jobs for Recruiters group on Facebook, one thing will be abundantly clear after joining, the recruiters, sourcers, and HR pros that belong to it want one thing most of all: Remote work. You frequently see someone posting ISO (in search of) posts wanting a remote gig in HR or recruiting.

There is a ton of chatter online about remote work in the HR industry, no doubt being driven by the freelance revolution and technological advancements that make it so attractive. Tools like Zoom and Slack, which I use frequently, make it easy to connect with clients or co-workers.

Remote work isn’t going away

A recent study from Buffer about remote work shows that it’s a trend that is not going away. According to their findings, 99% of respondents said, “they would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers.” In addition, they noted, “While remote work is sometimes portrayed as a trend, these results seem to infer that this way of working is here to stay. Out of all the data we collected, no response was as powerful as this one.”

Many people I have met in the industry crave the opportunity to freelance remotely as a recruiter, sourcer, or HR consultant. They crave flexibility, and for companies, it’s cheaper, better for the environment (no commuting), and easier to fill roles than those tied to a location.

The one drawback about remote work I often hear — and experience myself — is the isolation it causes. Feelings of loneliness can emerge if companies don’t ensure enough touchpoints and communication with their remote workers to keep them engaged. These can be avoided with tactics like digital hangouts and a set number of trips to the office each year. One remote HR pro I met recently says she goes to the company offices about every 6-8 weeks to get a week’s worth of facetime.

As for me, I try to attend a lot of networking events in my area during the week and travel to a number of recruiting conferences each year to stay grounded. It’s still important to get out and meet other humans on a regular basis.

Remote advantage: Flexibility and talent

Katrina Kibben, who runs her own company called Three Ears Media, loves freelancing and is excited about its future in HR. She told me by email that, “in the HR and recruiting industry, professionals are expected to be good at so many things — search, attraction, persuasion, copywriting, and the list goes on. Getting support from specialists where your team may not thrive using freelancers seems like a natural transition for this industry to master all of these critical elements for success.”

Outsourcing to HR freelancers like Katrina seems like a no brainer to me. And I think small businesses will also help to drive more HR work to be done remotely. They tend to have tiny HR teams, or none at all, which will require more and more on-demand HR expertise to be at the ready.

With the popularity of sites like Upwork, gig marketplaces seem to be popping up in nearly every industry. The next generation of knowledge workers wants the convenience of working for themselves from home, or at least to have the flexibility of doing a portion of their job remotely.

The numbers back that up. Another study conducted last year by Owl Labs says that full-time remote workers said they’re happy in their job 22% more than people who never work remotely. Those respondents cite a better work-life balance, increased productivity/better focus, and less stress as to why they prefer to work like this.

Remote workers also tend to stay with their employers longer, so retention is a factor that can’t be ignored. HR leadership can certainly agree with that.

This article is part of a series called Remote Work.
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