In early 2020, more companies than ever had switched to remote work to prioritize the health of their employees and community. We are still seeing the effects of that, as many businesses decided not to return to pre-pandemic work strategies.
The swift transition to telework without knowing how long it would last forced everyone to make quick decisions about how it would work in their organization—and HR was no exception. But now that remote work is here to stay, it’s imperative for HR to change to work as smart as possible from anywhere.
Here are our top five tips for HR professionals managing a remote workforce.
1. Establish a Remote Work Policy
HR policies keep every employee on the same page about what is expected. Remote work can be more flexible than in-office work, so you should clarify your expectations that are specific to remote workers. What works for in-office employees may not be realistic for remote employees.
Setting clear guidelines about what employees should expect in their remote roles is a key HR duty in companies that have telecommuting positions. Clarify who is eligible for remote work, and set expectations for the methods and frequency of communication, work schedules, and how you can work with employees to keep company information secure.
2. Harness the Power of Technology
Technology can greatly increase overall employee productivity and keep team members’ goals aligned. It’s already helpful for improving work in the office, but it’s especially essential for remote workers.
Technology can make up for remote work’s shortcomings, like a lack of communication or the insecurity of important company data.
There is endless software available that will improve your company’s remote work strategies. A few examples of what technology can simplify include communication, project management, benefits management, and data storage. Using technology for yourself and your employees will help the whole company run smoother than ever.
3. Give Employees a Platform to Be Heard
It isn’t as obvious how you can be a resource for your employees when you aren’t seeing and interacting with them every day. They’ll be less likely to let you know they’re experiencing burnout or are struggling to find a good work/life balance without normal and casual interactions.
Reach out to employees regularly to make sure they’re doing alright. You may want to schedule a one-on-one with them to give them the opportunity to let you know what advantages and disadvantages of remote work they’re experiencing.
Not all employees will feel comfortable confiding in you about the challenges they’re facing as they telecommute, so create and send out an anonymous survey to all employees to determine what resources you should provide them with.
You may want to include some of the following questions in your survey:
- Are you more productive working remotely or in the office?
- Do you have a healthy work/life balance?
- Would you be interested in resources with tips on how to effectively work from home?
- Do you have all the equipment you need to be successful?
- Is your team’s communication adequate to achieve your goals?
Providing a platform for employees to be heard, whether it’s anonymous or not, will greatly empower them and help you pinpoint ways you can help them.
4. Adjust the Hiring and Onboarding Processes
Because full-time remote employees will never see the inside of the office, it wouldn’t make sense to bring them in for their interview or onboarding process. Standardizing remote hiring and onboarding processes is essential for all HR professionals managing remote workers.
One of the biggest advantages of allowing remote work is that the company has access to a larger talent pool because there are no geographical limitations. And because your candidates may be hundreds of miles away, keeping these processes completely digital will save you and your candidates serious time.
Luckily, if you’ve already followed tip #2 and found technology that works for you, you’re all set. You can use a videoconferencing program to conduct interviews virtually. And once you’ve made your decision and are onboarding, you can automate all of your new hire paperwork with a robust document management system.
5. Create a Digital Company Culture
HR is key to setting the tone of an organization’s culture, and it’s just as important for remote workers. Although they’re working from the comfort of their own home, they still need to work for a company they enjoy and that makes them feel valued.
Establishing an organizational culture with remote employees has to be much more intentional than with those always in the office. Without the “watercooler talk,” the casual interactions that naturally add to culture are restricted.
Creating an impressive culture among telecommuting employees comes with different challenges but is completely doable. You can put on virtual events like book clubs or seasonal parties and even tune into casual conversations by encouraging each team to set a time each week to jump on a call and chat about things other than work.
Remote workers can easily experience burnout, but company culture can limit that, ensuring your employees are satisfied with their jobs and keeping them around for longer.
Managing remote workers calls for different HR practices, but with the help of leaders throughout the organization, you can determine how to provide your remote employees with the best experience possible, which will help your organization reach new levels of success.
Katie Casaday is a marketing content writer at eFileCabinet, where she specializes in computer software and document management topics. She graduated from Utah State University with a BA in Global Communication. She has experience writing about business-to-business technology companies, but aside from writing, she loves nature and taking hikes with her companion, a border collie named Margo.