There is a newfound requirement for HR teams to become Workplace Transformational Evangelists while advocating for the decentralization of “head offices” while embracing a more inclusive virtual work space feels Vanessa Tierney, CEO and Co-founder at Abodoo. In this chat with TecHRseries, she talks about the story behind Abodoo and how inclusive matching platforms will shape future HR and HR Tech needs.
Tell us a little about yourself Vanessa …we’d love to hear about your biggest takeaways from your journey setting up Abodoo! And also, what inspired the idea?
I am from Ireland and I have worked in HR for nearly 20 years. Over the last decade, I have focused on the new world of work in terms of remote and hybrid models. I am the Co-founder of Abodoo which is the first dynamic skills mapping and matching platform for local governments. I am also the co-author of a book called Your Company with No Walls, which was published earlier this year. I have been incredibly fortunate to work with thousands of international professionals during my career and my greatest enjoyment has been around working with or developing HR technology that supports people’s potential and is inclusive, while creating an equal playing field that can not only positively impact individual lives but local economies through new working models.
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What are your top observations and thoughts on the current workplace trends and changes taking place due to the Covid-19 pandemic? How do you see the global workforce and basic workplace fundamentals changing over the short term?
As a result of the global pandemic, many companies were forced to transition to remote working with very little, if any, notice but now as economies reopen the choice is returning. Experts claim that a new habit can be formed after 66 days and so workers now will have experienced how remote working can be possible (and challenging) but also how it can provide many upsides. There is an undeniable financial benefit, but working remotely also allows people to regain commuting time which can positively impact their lives and those of their families.
Employers that are ahead of the curve are establishing their Smart Working models for the pandemic and beyond. When developing these crucial hybrid models, companies must ensure that their model fits not just their people, but their culture and their business, while allowing for a sustainable future. Companies that are clearly communicating their new world of work model are not only giving confidence to their workforce but positioning a strong employer brand for the future.
One welcome development in the global workforce has been the automatic broadening of talent pools which is an amazing upside to the rapid embracing of hybrid models.
In what ways do you feel tech and B2B companies should transform their recruitment and employee management processes during a downtime?
Equality and inclusivity are key to recruitment transformation, especially as talent pipelines increase due to rising unemployment and broaden through the availability of new diverse pools of workers. Working remotely for the first time can impact bias levels in the hiring process and in many cases this can be unconscious. An excellent way to tackle this is through personality and behavioral assessment tools. I have worked with many and those that have excellent validity can identify not only someone’s potential but understand the support they need to excel remotely. Furthermore, virtual talent war rooms can ensure every engagement touch point with a candidate has equal assessment. From an employee management perspective, leaders who can be authentic and human in these challenging times will shine through and inspire loyalty and high performance which can be tough when you are managing remotely for the first time. The focus is on really connecting with your team; not just on a business level but on a personal level, while being as empathetic as possible to each and every situation.
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What should young professionals keep in mind now when they are developing “remote” careers across industries?
Pre-pandemic it was estimated that 50% of the global working population would be gig working by 2025. It is very likely that young professionals will experience working with multiple companies and, in some cases, working for multiple companies at the same time. As we evolve from presenteeism to managing based on output and results, careers will evolve into projects that meet and fulfil career goals.
How do you see this pandemic impacting the global talent and work marketplace in tech / B2B in terms of the way the workforce will approach skills development, their own progression, their work life commitments…
Covid-19 has had a serious impact on the volume of talent in the marketplace, as there are now 400 million people unemployed as a direct result of the pandemic. What this means for companies, in particular recruitment, is a far more challenging process in screening and ensuring a fair and equal process. There are also more data points to consider and assess regarding the work model preference of applicants; do they fit the Smart Working model available today and in the future? For remote working, have they got the set up and connectivity level and are expectations on both sides aligned? HR tech can play a big part in supporting this process from pre-screening, reducing bias, and effectively matching for this new world of work. When we built the matching ecosystem for Abodoo, our main priority was supporting diversity through anonymous profile matching and providing hiring managers with all the key data needed to build out teams in a hybrid or remote model.
Could you take us through some of the process / team changes at Abodoo undertaken during this downtime – to help boost employee coordination and motivation? What new innovations or offerings can users look forward to from Abodoo in the near term?
When Covid-19 hit, we knew immediately that the inclusive matching platform we built to connect companies with professionals that wanted great flexibility on location of work needed to be free. We made this happen and invited businesses to post and connect with workers locally, nationally, and globally. Our efforts were then turned to building a new technology platform for governments across the world called Geonostics, powered by the data of Abodoo. This technology is the first dynamic skills mapping platform that gives incredible insights on available skills in regions. This enables countries to market one of their greatest assets; the skills of the people in their region, while also encouraging people to move back to their communities, driving inward investment and employment through remote working. It also supports the future creation of regional digital hubs while providing the knowledge to know where demand for connectivity is, and what types of working models are required. Geonostics launched in the summer of 2020, and we are already supporting local governments through mapping alongside thousands of people and businesses in making the connection.
A few general thoughts / tips for businesses worldwide dealing with the current world pandemic?
My advice would be to take one day at a time, but always envisage a plan for a hybrid model that is sustainable for the long term. Try to understand how your team and indeed each individual is feeling and thinking. Create certainty about the near and medium term future so that everyone is clear on the new or adjusted future, vision, and strategy. Develop the culture to embrace this new world of work and ensure its relevance. Go back to basics and bring in virtual 360’s to get a baseline. Introduce virtual workplaces like Yonderdesk.com (which enables remote and office teams to work in a new virtual world where someone’s location does not impact their involvement). Finally; just breathe. This year has been incredibly challenging and whether you are leading a team and/or working, acknowledge just how well you and your colleagues have done to keep the ship afloat.
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Vanessa Tierney is the CEO and Co-founder at Abodoo.