Working remotely is becoming more popular, as cheap and simple connectivity makes it possible to set up a fully-stocked office at home, or on the go. How does HR stay connected to a remote workforce? We explain.
When it comes to construction, safety, or transportation, the right remote workspace is even more important, for productivity, and for the safety and well-being of your workers.
As you plan for remote teams or remote workplace setups, there are steps a good HR team can take to best ensure your team’s success. Follow these tips to get optimum results from your remote work teams.
Find your best remote team
If you’re testing out a potential remote worker, have them do smaller independent projects first. It gives you a chance to build a relationship and lets you explore how your prospective remote teams can work together.
During these trial periods, it’s a good idea to set out a list of questions you want to ask about workflow, office setup, their vision for the company, and the work they will be doing to align themselves to this vision. Sharing the same company mission, values and culture is vital to success. That doesn’t change when you’re talking about retaining remote workers.
“Remote work is the future of work.”
— Alexis Ohanian, Reddit
Response time is essential
As a remote employee, the onus often falls to the worker to create the best environment for a conducive workforce. That means they’re responsible for staying in touch. Make it easier for your team to keep you updated, by keeping your own response times short.
Regular communication helps keep remote employees in the loop, and also shows your appreciation for their time and attentiveness. It shows that the deadlines and goals you set for your remote teams are every bit as vital as inter-office projects.
Make a personal connection
Though a quick response time is often most efficient through email, making time to connect on a more personal level helps keep your remote workers feeling like part of the team. Video conferences can replace in real life chats if distance is a factor. If possible, you should be checking in with your remote workers, at least once a week.
Talk to your remote teams about scheduling facetime and get their opinion on which would work best for everybody (don’t forget to include onsite employees). Those relationships are important to your business. Use webinars, videos and conference calls to create a sense of community for everyone, including your distributed workforce.
Use tools to foster team bonding even over distance
When you’re handling remote teams, it can feel like you’re managing two sets of employees. Create a cohesive company culture with tools that make it possible for teams to stay connected, on projects, and in a more social environment.
Use social media to create a sense of community in your virtual spaces, including internal social media spaces such as the company chat line. Digital game space is a great way for teams to bond over a competitive spirit. Expand your thinking about what makes a company culture great, and provide your team with the tools to stay connected, about projects, and anything else.
Screen sharing tools let everyone see what you see, and document sharing tools like Google Drive and Dropbox mean entire teams can work on their projects together.
Provide teams with the right equipment
Generally, when it comes to setting up remote office space, the remote worker is responsible for creating a productive, ergonomically optimised work environment. But HR and head office can find ways to make that easier. Providing the right technology is one part of that equation. If possible, provide your remote staff with a tablet or smartphone to remain connected.
There’s more to it than tech. If your workers are working remotely due to a need to travel for the company, the right GPS and management systems can help keep your team secure and on the road.
Ask questions of your remote team, about their workflow, setup, and daily routine. Invest in ergonomic equipment and breaktime software to prevent injuries from sitting too long at a time.
“When working remote, all of a sudden, I’ve been sitting at my desk all day and I didn’t take a break for something I enjoy. It’s been a daily reminder to reset, move and experience more of what my community offers.” – Lizzy Duffy, Heyorca
Providing for your remote workforce means regularly updating your software and security, and might even extend to a more ergonomic office environment, for the health and safety of your workers.
Keep an open line of communication
As you onboard your remote workers, be sure to focus on the support they can expect from management and HR. Regular and timely communication is important. Always be open to feedback from remote workers.
“In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly.”
— Mark Sanborn, Author
We’ve talked extensively about employee satisfaction before. When you’re working with remote workers, understanding the needs of their environment and workflow is essential.
Fostering communication that goes both ways, and providing clear direction while making room for flexibility sends a message that you’re working as a team. Unlike your on-site workers, it’s impossible to read nonverbal cues from remote workers., such as facial expressions and tone of voice.
Weekly meetings may not always be productive of feasible.
For those times you can’t count on a Skype call or face to face meeting, pulse surveys or live chat roundtables that allow everyone to voice concerns and issues make it easier to address concerns of remote workers that might otherwise go unheard.
Everyone likes to feel appreciated. Keep remote workers happy by taking the time to recognise their contributions. Interacting positively on social media, or highlighting contributions and introducing them to new team members when they are on-site for face to face meetings, are all great ways to reinforce the contributions of your remote workforce.
Be as transparent about the company as you are about communicating with your employees, both remote and in-office. Share successes. Celebrate each other. Share company goals with your employees, to keep everyone on the same page. Make an effort to share opportunities with remote workers who show promise.
Many people choose to work remotely as a way to stay productive and maintain a flexible work schedule. Distracting office culture, long commutes and company politics can cut into productivity. The traditional office hours often don’t line up with the amount of actual work that has been accomplished.
“One of the secret benefits of using remote workers is that the work itself becomes the yardstick to judge someone’s performance.” — Jason Fried, Basecamp
When it comes to remote work setups, tracking the results of the work that gets done is a better way of measuring productivity than tracking time spent on the desk or office. A perceived work ethic can be harder to measure if not in an office-based environment, so you need to focus on deadlines met, project outcomes, and quality of work instead.
Create a digital company culture
Remote employees have unique concerns. Building the right remote workforce means recognising those challenges early on, and making adjustments to your onboarding process. Set a standard for communications during the hiring process.
Text chats are great for quick interactions, while video calls are often best for real-time collaboration. Keep your teams organised with project management tools and access to a secure cloud.
“Do you want to access talent everywhere, or just in specific markets? If everywhere, you need to be at least open to the possibility of remote work — it opens doors to attracting and retaining talent around the world, literally and figuratively.” — Katie Burke, HubSpot
A remote workforce is the new normal. As your business continues to grow, whatever industry you’re in, opting for remote workers comes with its own benefits. And for those industries where working out of the office is essential, it’s vital to have a plan to keep your employees connected.
Not only is it what’s best for productivity and safety, it also helps build a company culture even for those away from the office, adding to employee loyalty, lowering turnover, and helping you build the best team for your company.
About the Author
Megan loves shining the light on ways to happifying workplaces so everyone can work in a healthy, safe and relaxed environment.