VIRTUAL TEMPING - A FEATURE OF LOCKDOWN
LONG-TERM TEMPS TRANSITIONED SEAMLESSLY
I’m happy to announce that as the days get hotter, and our tolerance of lockdown gets progressively lower, the relief provided by short-term virtual temps who are interviewed virtually, trained virtually, and perform their entire assignment virtually, is now a reality.
Virtual temping has been a feature of lockdown since the beginning, exploding the long-held reservation that the logistics of home setup are insurmountable. Whilst the vast majority of short-term temps – holiday and sickness covers mainly – were told on Friday the 13th of March that their future bookings were unlikely to proceed, those temps engaged in long-term, project or otherwise essential assignments transferred seamlessly to remote working.
SHORT TERM COVER DONE INTERNALLY
The biggest obstacle to virtual temping has therefore been the question of necessity, and with good reason. People on lockdown haven’t been taking huge holidays because there’s nowhere to go, and with the elimination of business travel and all external meetings and events, the staff who co-ordinate these activities have less to do than usual. Why then would a firm go to the trouble of interviewing and training a temp virtually for a short-term cover when there are permanent staff available to take up the slack? The answer is they wouldn’t.
SMOOTH ONBOARDING FROM BEGINNING TO END
The decision to onboard a temp is a fine one at the best of times, and one bad experience can easily push a hiring manager towards the safer option of internal cover. This concern is amplified by the fear that interviewing and training someone remotely loses something in translation, with the result that an essential business unit doesn’t get the support it needs. All a lot of trouble for just a week’s cover; much better to keep it in the family.
HANDOVERS MORE THOROUGH THAN USUAL
However, as we transition from pure to partial lockdown, and the stresses of homeworking become more acute, the judgement on when to justify a short-term virtual temp is already becoming more nuanced. VWA has gone from zero interest in onboarding new temps virtually to several assignments in the past weeks. The clients, all financial services firms with high standards, determined that their covers couldn’t be taken care of internally. The processes ran with the same ease and formality as their permanent counterparts; shortlists were sent, virtual interviews were arranged and comprehensive answers were given, obviating any concerns that the temps wouldn’t be able to handle their workload. Handovers with staff were more thorough than usual, but since in normal times handovers are often too light, that’s a welcome refinement to the onboarding process. IT departments would test the remote setup in advance of the start date to avoid the possibility of bugs in real time. All in all, it’s been extremely smooth.
VIRTUAL TEMPING IS HERE TO STAY
With lockdown being progressively reduced, and companies considering their staggered return to offices, the capacity of underutilised permanent staff to step in and cover their colleagues will steadily reduce. That reduction will coincide with the lifting of travel restrictions for a workforce in desperate need of a proper break. The need for short-term temps, virtual or otherwise, will inevitably continue to rise. It should therefore be of some reassurance to those hiring managers considering their options to know that their peers have already experimented successfully with the process.
Virtual temping is here to stay.
by Nicholas Coleridge-Watts