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Maximising the value of young workers in a remote work world.


October 7, 2021

Chancellor Rishi Sunak believes that continued working from home will negatively impact the careers of young workers.

Yet, the world of work was changing before Covid. Forward-thinking employers – particularly in creative industries – had already started to offer flexibility to attract talent. Start-up culture had young, agile teams running tech-empires remotely, and Hoxby was building momentum with its #workstyle movement.

Many of us are now reaping the benefits of a hybrid or remote work shift. But is Sunak right? Will the younger generation miss out, or is it too simplistic a view? How can this new way of working ‘work’ for everyone, including the younger workforce? How can young workers overcome remote working issues, and how can you help them?

Annika Hart, MD of Futureproofing at Hoxby, has been investigating the realities of remote or hybrid work for young people. She reached out to the Hoxby community to uncover any problems with remote work and get their take on nurturing young talent remotely. She also spoke to Cary Curtis, Founder of Give A Grad A Go – the UK’s leading graduate recruitment agency – to determine what’s happening and how to ease the transition.

Here are the key takeaways:

How to nail the all-important interview

The move to video interviews has been an adjustment for recruiters, employers and more senior candidates. On the upside, video interviews can give younger candidates an advantage: digital natives are used to screen time.

For some, it’s an opportunity to map out how best to present themselves. For others, no commute means more time to prepare for the interview. Finding a quiet place to talk and using the screen to make an impact can work in their favour. But while extroverts naturally perform better, employers see experience working in a remote environment – either through a college project or a side-hustle – as a bonus.

But it’s not a level playing field. Potential employers need to remember that people have different circumstances and should be sympathetic to hiccups like unreliable Wifi or unavoidable background noise.

Candidates are still keen to get insights into a company culture at the recruitment stage. In the past, they would have picked up cues during in-person interviews, so behind the scenes images or footage at the office can be a great substitute.

Hoxby recruitment is fully remote and doesn’t rely on one-on-one interviews. Instead, we ask candidates to answer two simple questions to identify that our values and ethos are aligned. As a result, Hoxby consists of more than 650 diverse experts working remotely across 43 countries and talking 50 languages.

Tap into global talent

The talent pool is now global with remote working communities – good news for recruiters, employers and candidates. There are more work from home career opportunities, and as an employer, it means you can access talent from all corners of the globe that you otherwise couldn’t reach.

According to a survey published by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), 45% of all graduate jobs were London-based in the recruitment year 2019-2020. Huge numbers of graduates have migrated to London from across the UK over the past decade, with 310,000 graduates leaving the North of England for a role in London, resulting in a significant ‘brain drain’ by the South. Post pandemic, Cary Curtis says this is no longer the case as remote and flexible working models now allow for graduates to work from their homes for London businesses and startups – adding incredible value to companies through a more diversified nationwide workforce.

At Hoxby, we recognise the power of a global community, removing all bias from the way we attract talent, breaking all potential barriers like gender, age or disabilities. It’s enabled us to attract and include a truly diverse pool of people in our community of multiple backgrounds and expertise – and offer our clients access to collective intelligence that’s second to none.

Nurture young workers from the start

Nurturing needs to start early on, so employees should take onboarding seriously. Be creative – physical welcome packs help build connections and make newbies feel valued. At Hoxby, we send out all our new starters physical welcome packs to make that all-important connection to the real world.

Once onboarded, encourage people to be in the office for a maximum number of hours rather than a minimum number of office days. Appoint co-hosts for meetings for people in the office and people working remotely.

If a new younger employee feels that they are working for a company that values them, they’re more likely to travel to the office for a couple of days a week. Younger recruits don’t want to be tied to one location but are willing to be flexible if they believe it benefits their careers.

Candidates want to see that their training is a priority, so companies putting the spotlight on career progression will outpace their competitors. Dedicated online learning portals help, as does having different projects to learn from and get involved with.

Our internal academy brings new Hoxbies up to speed on our culture and processes, the language we use, the responsibilities and scopes of different projects and – importantly, how they can contribute to and benefit from the community. We articulate and embed our purpose in everything we do, so that new Hoxbies can quickly understand the organisational culture and figure out their place in it. We’ve even developed bespoke emojis on Slack for each of our values.

Junior members are missing out on social chats around the water fountain, so Hoxby has created multiple dedicated interest channels on Slack to recreate the experience virtually. Our most popular channel, ‘the watercooler’, is a way for Hoxbies to connect, chat and get to know the Hoxby community. We have other non-work-related channels, too, such as ‘interest pets’, ‘interest parents’ and ‘interest food’, which provide online spaces for Hoxbies to unwind and connect outside of project work.

Play to the strengths of a tech-savvy generation

The younger generation is tech-savvy and companies that recognise this will motivate their younger team members. Their know-how and skills can also be used to upskill more senior staff, enriching morale and creating a more collaborative space. They can also help more traditional operating businesses adapt to new changes and pivot to more agile ways of working that are more flexible and efficient.

Employers can put systems in place that work for both young and experienced team members. As a remote community, Hoxby replicates in-person experiences with real-time tools like Google Docs or keeps video calls open to enable effective asynchronous working. We also use Threadit to create video threads where a written message doesn’t suit the conversation.

Digital technology can also help us harness our collective intelligence, creating a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. It allows for global reach, almost 24/7, at a tremendous pace.

Digital tools such as Slack, Google Workspace, Trello, online call tools and Threadit are used by Hoxbies daily and benefit clients in remarkable ways. They allow Hoxby to deliver global insights and collective learnings in a matter of days, as well as run learning events and virtual workshops seamlessly across the globe.

Bear in mind however that with new technology comes a new set of behaviours around engagement and inclusion. To create and maintain an inclusive culture, you must involve a wide range of people (e.g. gender, age, disability, neurodiversity) across the organisation in setting up these new technologies, so everyone can engage meaningfully.

Ensure juniors can still learn from senior teams

Training is now front of mind. But how can that training satisfy the needs of junior and senior team members? It doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all approach.

Give A Grad A Go employees can work remotely for one month each year. Many of their employees choose to work overseas for that month. The caveat? Senior staff need to be in the office when a new junior colleague joins their team. It requires some management but means the needs of both cohorts are met – and the importance of training is recognised.

Or consider creating a buddy system, as we’ve done in the Hoxby community. How does it work? A buddy is someone recently hired by the company who can help the new hire settle in. Give A Grad A Go have taken this further by creating a buddy/mentor system, where the mentor is a senior member of the team or manager who gives more formal support to the new recruit. It’s a way to unlock long-lasting productivity and engagement and encourages learning on the job, with shared tasks and responsibilities that help develop further skills.

Recognise the human side of remote working

While Hoxby is a community designed around the remote working approach, we believe there is a clear benefit in office-based organisations applying this ‘remote first’ way of working. It’s something we’ve successfully helped clients with in the past.

For example, we recently helped a global private banking company design and embed a culture to support a distributed global workforce. Hoxby Futureproofing and HR teams have enabled businesses around the globe to prepare for unforeseen changes via workshops and strategies that result in smooth transitions of organisational changes. Drawing up policies that enable a ‘remote first’ approach will be an asset to your workforce and shouldn’t be an afterthought.

Junior team members are benefitting from an environment of more vulnerability and openness. Seeing colleagues as rounded individuals with responsibilities outside of work creates empathy and builds connections. An interruption from a toddler lightens things up and makes everyone more human – and that’s a good thing.

Virtual brunch mornings or afternoon get-togethers is another way to help relationships grow in a remote workforce. Putting activities in place that appeal to everyone – and don’t interrupt creche pick-up times – will get greater engagement.

Openness and vulnerability is a recipe for a well-bonded workforce and it’s evident that small acts of kindness still win in our virtual, remote world.

Contact Hoxby to learn more

Hoxby is a purposefully diverse network that gives you access to the collective brainpower and diverse insight of hundreds of professional and creative experts in 40+ countries around the world. We draw on the unique diversity within our community to uncover insights and create refreshing solutions to your brief. Our Communications, Creative, Futureproofing, HR, Innovation, Marketing and Operations teams can solve almost any business challenge. Curious to find out more? Get in touch at

Annika Hart is an Organisational Psychologist and the MD of Hoxby Futureproofing. Cary Curtis has over 10 years’ experience helping junior members of the workforce develop their careers.

Leona McDaid is a Communications & Content expert and member of the Hoxby community.

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