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Recruiting from the Middle of Nowhere

Oct 30, 2008

The evolution of the Internet, teleworker technology, and the current shift in workforce demographics offer employment possibilities we once only dreamed about during our daily commutes. For a growing number of recruiters, working remotely is the new virtual reality.

I am one of a growing number of people who work virtually. A couple of years ago, I moved from Warwick, New York, to Columbia County, Pennsylvania. Warwick was a great place to live; a nice town about 65 miles northwest of NYC, but the cost of living was becoming absurd.

We chose Columbia County because we drove through it often on trips to visit my parents in Ohio. As it turns out, we chose well; Columbia County was recently ranked #1 as the Best Place for Rural Living in the Northeast United States, and #5 overall in the nation.

Beauty aside, the only real disadvantage of living here is a lack of major employers. Otherwise, we are just over three hours away from New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Washington, DC. Close enough for weekend trips, but far enough to make a daily commute impractical.

I experienced no major calamities or disasters when I first started working remotely. I knew my work and how to go about it. The biggest problem was the nagging barrier of isolation. My new manager was happy with my abilities and results, but I needed to overcome a lack of personal interaction. I was productive, but always felt I had to prove I was doing just a little bit more.

That mild worry was short-lived…until my satellite Internet service provider began experiencing connectivity issues during its acquisition. How embarrassing to have my manager in Chicago waiting on the phone for what seems like an eternity before your screens are in synch when discussing a salient point about my additional workload! This problem was remedied soon afterwards when we moved into our new home, complete with high-speed cable.

Virtual Workers Make Sense for Recruitment

In 1997, there were approximately 8 million people involved in some form of virtual work, according to the International Association of Virtual Organizations.

The Gartner Group, a technology research firm, predicts that this year alone, approximately 41 million employees around the world will spend at least one day a week working virtually. Nearly 100 million will work from home at least one day each month. The largest proportion of these employees will be U.S. workers.

A growing number of forward-thinking companies are embracing virtual employees for a host of positions, not only for temporary needs, but on a full-time basis. Consider adding recruiters not only from the middle of nowhere, but also consider having recruiters search out candidates to fill your other positions from anywhere; even the middle of nowhere.

The array of technologies available to companies and teleworkers is now at the point where virtual meetings are common for participants on a global scale, with little attention paid to the virtual aspect. Indeed, companies like AT&T, Nortel, Amgen, and Sun are leading the way with these technologies.

Here is a glimpse into how it works for Sun, and how it could work for you and/or your client companies as well:

Sun CIO Bill Vass reports that its virtual employees use Sun Ray, a diskless ultra-thin client computer that runs off an employee’s corporate badge.

When a user inserts his corporate ID badge into the Sun Ray, the device communicates to Sun Ray servers at headquarters. Those servers manage all the data and applications, including VoIP soft phones, and simply deliver the GUI to the remote user. The badge contains a small Java chip that handles authentication and encryption. The result is a mobile workforce that is far more secure, and easier to support and administer than traditional laptop-wielders.

The Sun Rays cost just $200 apiece and require the same amount of technical support as a typical TV, meaning zero.

The company says it saves $15 million a year in administrative costs alone, and $2.8 million in power costs. As many as 17,000 of Sun’s 33,000 employees work virtually in some capacity.

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