Quite the phrase du jour.
And not related to the swathes of unoccupied desks due to en masse commute reluctance when WFH can continue as an entitlement.
Instead, 'empty chairs' is a manifestation of how difficult it currently is in Blighty to recruit.
The Great Resignation and work/life balance recalibration also a factor.
Outside more classically white collar confines, the vast numbers of hospitality, care and coding vacancies seem in equal measure to make up the bulk, we are told, of the 1.3million jobs currently advertised. Incidentally, the largest ever volume of openings recorded in the UK.
I'd be surprised if you've been untouched by knowledge of this. So here's but one general example from the middle classes.
Parents are openly poaching the nanny of other children at the school gate.
Empty chairs can be suffocating for ambitions in the solution salesroom.
Funnels go unfilled. Clients go unserved. Competitors go unchallenged.
Staff you thought you paid above-the-rate, nonchalantly job-hop for the extra hybrid day elsewhere. New hires decline, taking last-minute offers of eye-watering incentives to stay put elsewhere in way greater numbers than was the norm. Headhunters and competitors brazenly pitch to your crew as they leave your building, with offers defying the laws of business gravity.
Reactions to ease such pressure vary.
Already, I hear anecdotally that the upward spiralling of remuneration may have hit, or at least be pushing right up to, a ceiling.
Which brings other elements of the package in play.
Let's deal with two; investment and development.
With particular reference to my present specialism; Video Calls That Sell.
I remember my first company laptop as we'd know one today. In the mid-90s.
Prior to that, I actually had one with amber type on black screen. To help me better pitch the wonders of enterprise management system reporting.
IT managers always fret over colleagues using personal kit for work tasks and comms. As the defences around corporate data forever tighten, a supplied machine for exclusive deployment is usual.
Such spend used to be accompanied with a broader budget chunk. Landlines, fax machines, printers, mobile phones, broadband.
Yet like the infamous 'peace dividend' supposedly won for democratic military spend in the early 90s, these mainly redundant items have not yielded a kind of 'internet dividend' for us.
Not if you want to retain, keep and propel top Sales talent.
Even the cosiest of home-working space can - and should - have adaptations which allow for the making of video calls to truly shine.
There's elements I picked up from 'zoom rooms' design back in 2020.
Many aspects of which range from the negligible in cost, like makeshift laptop stands, or cardboard props salvaged from the recycling. Through to petty cash style everydays such as clipboards or reusable adhesive. Towards the touch more specialised stationery of thick pens and mini-whiteboards. Before you slide up the scale to the likes of extra lighting and second cameras, even semi-pro mics with extra screens.
I'm frequently disillusioned on this. No-one seems to care that these are essential selling tools.
HR, the body supposedly focused on talent, are in my experience today often more interested in other agendas than genuinely improving your day to day selling performance.
IT often fall down the 'unified comms' rabbit hole, thinking the app alone is the answer.
Then there's our kinfolk. Sales Ops. Well. If you've an example of where such department or resource has enacted an initiative to help how you come across better during a bid on video, I'd be delighted to herald it.
Investment goes beyond these videoing sundries too.
I have had conversations with people these past three years about the cost of having anyone in-post. The rule of thumb used to be take their salary and add the same amount again. Nowadays I've heard a lower number for associated costs, of around 60%. Regardless of what it may be in your company, how difficult can it be to factor in a mere couple of hundred pounds/dollars/euros for proper tutelage in the skill of more distinctive video cell performance?
Imagine having such a program on call. Think of the allure as part of an integrated onboarding process. Consider what such attention to personal and professional mastery would earn you in return.
So why do so many sales endeavours think it fit to not take any moment to guide how salespeople might perform over video to maximise their potential?
(Regardless of whether they make the stultifying call to lazily default to Teams for video.)
Give someone a laptop with the latest swankiest unicornist workplace collab, project, or sales reporting app and you don't just leave them to it. So how different is your video platform? Being shown once what pressing each button does is not even half the story. Not even close...
Leading right along from initial investment, you need not just to show interest in your newbie at their outset, but prove too ongoing commitment to their success as they progress.
Clearly, my viewpoint is transparent here.
To keep salespeople, see them succeed, let them and the business they write grow, then open their eyes to what more they can do conducting sales video meetings.
There's other angles to this beyond the sadly frequently derided 'training' part.
Video selling allows you to reshape how you sell.
Process uniques can be remixed in a way that further differentiates you from your competition. Adapted anew in the light of how video let's them evolve. Productivity gains often a visible, tangible gain from such broader approach. Both colleagues and prospects can be mobilised to interact in fresh ways to quicker and more securely make deeper connections.
All whilst bringing unstoppable enthusiasm to defining and redefining that crucial pattern of events that when in train, guarantee you repeatable, sustainable success.
So. If you feel there's too many an empty chair in your sales set up - or indeed you worry the blight could soon afflict you - now you've a pair of pillars on which to build to thwart the scourge.