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Itchy Feet

By July 1, 2022No Comments

Not just the symptom of an onset fungal infection or an early sign of diabetes. It’s the phrase we use to describe the want and desire to travel. I just took a small trip down a rabbit hole and discovered that Oxford Vs Collins is a very real thing in the dictionary world. As Collins is the official dictionary of Scrabble I’ll side with their definition;

“to become bored with the place or situation that you are in, and want to move somewhere new or start doing something new”

Any kiwi who has returned from an OE back living with their olds will know this well. Once the novelty of unlimited Vegemite and Tim Tams has worn off. More recently the desire to travel hasn’t been born out of boredom but more out of necessity. Weddings that have been postponed are finally going ahead, nieces and nephews that are currently growing up uncle/auntieless finally get to meet their respective family members. As a lot of the recruitment industry are from overseas there is a fair amount of guilt placed on consultants to go back home every now and then. This isn’t anything new. However, it seems that the length of time consultants are asking to return home has increased. Potentially as a result of how long we were lockdown for here in Aotearoa and what’s been missed in the last two years. This is becoming a pretty big problem for recruitment managers and team leaders, especially since the weather is starting to take a turn for the worst.

I’ve booked a trip back home recently. The usual thing people say concerning traveling to Europe is to take at least 3 weeks, to take into account the jet lag and the two days lost on return. Thankfully for me, my superiors have more holidays than Flight Centre so there isn’t too much of a leg to stand on when it comes to requesting leave. But you do realize that negotiations and counter offers are two things that happen within the walls of recruitment agencies, especially when it comes to the length of your holiday. A few recruitment managers who I’ve spoken to recently are close to pulling their hair out with the amount and length of leave requested in the last few months. But what is to be done? If you say no then the veil is lifted and 9/10 that ultimatum will end up with the employee submitting a resignation letter rather than a leave request. Say if a billing consultant comes to you with a request for 3 months off due to a multitude of weddings and birthdays happening, you’re in a tough spot. Not only are you losing revenue it very much upsets the apple cart because you know the next person who asks for time off has the benchmark of a few months. Like a beloved Senegalese winger who wanted to push the boundaries of a certain pay structure you either give in or wish them all the best in the Bundesliga.

Last week I sat down with the GM of one of the larger recruitment agencies in NZ. They had an interesting approach to the recent influx of outgoing consultants, one that is rather surprising coming from one of the big boys. They offer 8 weeks where you can work anywhere in the world, be it in Havana or Matakana. It’s been a big success by all accounts. For example, say you want to take 2 months off, you can essentially do one week on one week off, no problem. Once you’ve done the obligatory shaking hands and kissing babies like any good congressional candidate in the first week of being back, you can do some work the next week before shooting off to another holiday destination. They only ask for the 7 hours when you are logged in, to have 3 when you’re available in times that correspond with NZ. It’s as easy as waking up early and doing 3-4 hours and then doing the same in the evening. It’s obviously depending on time zones but those heading to Blighty or mainland Europe is a great way to spend what could be up to 4 months on that side of the world while being employed and importantly, still making money,

Like any flexibility policy, it does rely on a large amount of trust to be successful. Our extended lockdown has exposed how little of our job we actually need to do face to face, so I can see initiatives like this becoming more common. Tech has also acted as a catalyst, knowing you can get a decent connection pretty much anywhere in the world has paved the way. Our day-to-day has way more flexibility than 5 years ago and flexibility begets more flexibility, we’ll always be pushing the boundaries till eventually, people crave an office that’s packed full of people. Perhaps these schemes that promote freelancing remote recruiters will be the mental shift required for consultants to long for a steady office environment?