We are all thinking it - What was that?
2020 has come and gone in a blink of the eye and has brought with it a tidal wave of unforeseen circumstances that have impacted each and every one of us, both positively or negatively.
It is difficult to write a festive, upbeat synopsis of what this last year at Test Candidates looks like without reflecting on the events happening outside of our office walls. Well, less office walls and more the walls of dining rooms, bedrooms, garden sheds and even cupboards (more on that later). It is with a level of reluctance that we allow our end of year blog to be consumed by the impact of coronavirus; and yet...
Test Candidates operates (under ‘normal’ circumstances) from London, England. So, for this end of year piece, it was fitting to focus on the impact of what has been happening here, in England. Although each country, even within the UK itself, has had different experiences, have faced different challenges, restrictions and changes, I am sure that every reader can relate to one and other. We can recognise the bizarre irony in all of this; For a pandemic that has caused separation, isolation and loneliness for so many, it is also the one common trend, on a global scale, that we can all relate to and fight against together. In human history, this is surely the one and only time we have seen this level of universal camaraderie.
Cast your mind back to the beginning of the year; The UK officially left the European Union. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they would become independent from the monarchy and step back as senior royals, thus coining the phrase, ‘Megxit.’ Awards season saw the Korean underdog, Parasite, deservedly take home the Oscar for best movie and Netflix’s documentary, ‘Tiger King’ gave us an insight into big cat breeding, its bizarre underworld and the ‘eccentric’ characters that went with it.
We really should have seen the madness of 2020 coming after all of that…
26th March, 2020. The day that the United Kingdom received a very clear message. Stay home.
Overnight, business had to make drastic changes that they were not prepared for. Employees packed up their desks and set up offices in any spare corner of their homes with the presumption that this would be, at most, for the next month or two.
Meal subscription services saw unprecedented levels of sign ups. Shares in Zoom soared. Friday night drinks were had with those you lived with as opposed to worked with. More and more businesses realised that they were about to face the need for drastic change. It became clear that the smaller, more agile companies were finding the remote working transition uncomplicated and therefore beating the larger, dated enterprises to innovative solutions. Some faced operational nightmares. Thanks to outdated tech and laborious admin heavy procedures, obvious requirements were overlooked - adequate internet access in employees’ homes, sufficient number of portable devices and work mobile phones needed to be provided. Other businesses had to navigate moving online entirely! Websites needed to be created, understanding SEO, communicating with clients who were very used to a physical brand by having to create new marketing strategies. All of this took time and for some, it took too long to adjust.
Companies equipped for the ‘work from home’ life were back in business as usual within 24 hours of the Government’s ‘lockdown’ instruction. The team here at Test Candidates have been flexible and open to remote working since its inception. Many of us have been working from home for over a year, including working in different countries across multiple time-zones! We all had home offices set up - remember that cupboard mentioned? Built in wardrobes became an easily concealable home-office. Innovation at its finest!
We saw an influx of new clients. Businesses reached out to us as their own recruitment processes needed to change. In house, face to face, classroom style testing was no more. An online, intelligent alternative was required. We provided support to businesses who were, at one point, deeply concerned that they would not be able to recruit efficiently. We pride ourselves on our flexible approach and thanks to our ability to quickly adapt and be solution-driven, businesses were put at ease. In 2020, Test Candidates surpassed 3,000 clients located across the world.
As this year has progressed and months passed by in what felt like quite a blur, it became more obvious that the ‘traditional’ approach to work - the nine to five, the hour long commute, the enviable office location - will not exist for much longer. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a substantial amount of research completed into the effects of working from home and the general results seem to be positive. A number of businesses are asking the question; should we work from home indefinitely? Eliminating commutes means that employees have more time and energy to do the things they enjoy; an extra hour in the morning to go for a jog, or complete a yoga workout. Or perhaps even staying in bed for a little while longer, reading a book with a cup of coffee or enjoying the morning radio show you usually have to switch off just before an entertaining feature. Then there is finishing your day and not losing an hour of your evening travelling home. More time with the children, perhaps using that hour to study a new language, or cook a meal you would ordinarily have delivered. Then there is the financial benefit; no commuting cost, no lunch time purchases from Starbucks or Pret A Manger. There also appears to be a correlation between work from home and employees taking fewer sick days.
Productivity levels also seemed to soar. Although not necessarily ‘good for you’, studies have found that lunch breaks were shorter and employees were happy to pick up work tasks slightly earlier or later in the day. ‘Burnout’ has decreased! Employees can also live in more desirable areas; no more extortionate rent or mortgages, less hustle and bustle of city life. Not only are there financial benefits to this (and therefore less stress related to money) but substantial health benefits too. We now have the ability to live further out of a city, reorganise our lives and achieve some much needed quiet. For us here at Test Candidates, we are fully committed to remote work.
We recognise how extremely lucky we are to have not only survived this year, but to have actually thrived. Whether this be down to our agile, pragmatic approach, our investment in an intelligent product, the noted benefits to our team remote working or perhaps a combination of all of these, it has been our pleasure to have assisted those clients equally as lucky to continue recruiting during such unprecedented times.
As we head into what we desperately hope to be kinder circumstances to all, we will continue to do everything we can to facilitate our clients’ use of online psychometric testing. We are extremely proud to have added our brand new HEXACO based personality test this year, as well as mechanical reasoning tests. Our platform has never been more suited to even more of a diverse range of business types. Thanks to our increasingly smart automation, candidate metrics and analysis, Test Candidates will continue to be a powerful tool in any recruitment assessment belt.
To all of our clients, thank you for your continued support and all the best for 2021!