Out Of Sight Shouldn’t Be Out Of Mind: How Human Resources Can Reach Out To Remote Workers
If you haven’t heard about the trend of remote work by now, you should hang your head in shame 😉
This new way of working has taken the business world by storm in recent years. It’s a key which has unlocked success for many companies. Startups can afford larger teams than ever before. Even the companies who can afford in-house staff find that their teams are 77% more productive out of the office.
As if that weren’t enough, remote work also provides the opportunity to seek the best employees in the country. Some companies even use this to work with staff from overseas. As can be seen from sites like https://www.cnbc.com upwards of 70% of workers worldwide now operate this way at least some of the time. You could say, then, that this is a bandwagon you should be jumping on.
Before you get swept up with those figures, though, it’s worth considering one pressing issue. How can you keep HR strong when your workers aren’t in the office? You may think this is a good excuse to dissolve your HR team once and for all, but you would be wrong.
The fact is that remote workers are still employees.
You may not see them every day or even live in the same state, but these people are as much your responsibility as physical employees. As such, it’s essential that you still operate with their best interests in mind. The trouble is, HR won’t be a few steps away should they need it. That alone can lead remote workers to feel unsupported and lost. In some instances, this could lead your losing valuable members of your team.
To make sure that doesn’t happen, then, it seems that HR operations should change in keeping with this trend. By turning your attention here, you can keep yourself ahead of the game, and make sure the move to remote work pays off. But, that doesn’t answer the question of how HR can help someone 500 miles away. Lucky for you, though, we have some suggestions which could.
Providing points of contact
Providing points of contact has always been crucial in HR operations.
In physical offices, a visible presence of HR is essential for decent working standards. Staff members need to know that they can talk with a team who work in their interests at any time. The same rules apply with your remote unit, though matters get a little more complicated. Here, there’s no physical door which you can keep open at all times. As such, providing the same levels of communication can be tricky.
Still, there are options open to you here. Many programs and apps now operate to ensure remote communication stays strong. You could even go all out here with unified communications solutions like those offered by www.atb-tech.com. The main thing to remember is that your HR team should be available to talk at any time during the working day. Your team should sign into chat functions like these first thing in the morning, and not leave until the working day ends. That way, will have at least some chance to speak with someone about personal issues. You may also find that it’s beneficial to incorporate accessible phone lines here. For team members in distress, typing may not help them feel connected.
Isolation and loneliness are common problems for remote workers.
Knowing they can pick up the phone and chat with someone in your company could help with that. However you go about it, though, HR needs to be as accessible for remote workers as it ever has been.
Taking the time to talk
It’s also worth noting that your HR team could benefit from reaching out to your remote team at regular intervals. This could involve monthly chat sessions or quarterly surveys. Either way, this provides a chance to check in which could be crucial. Often, HR staff will notice that a physical team member doesn’t look or seem like themselves. By calling them into the office, they may then discover personal problems the team member wouldn’t have mentioned otherwise. Only through interactions like these can you ensure you’re operating with a worker’s best interests in mind. We don’t always come forward about our problems, but that doesn’t make them any less relevant. The obvious issue with remote work, then, is that your HR team can’t see your members of staff. They won’t be able to look out for physical symptoms like this. As such, many issues could go under the radar. A remote team member suffering from severe depression, for instance, may feel they have to suffer in silence. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Your HR team shouldn’t only help those members of staff who come to them. They should also reach out and take the initiative sometimes. Something as simple as the knowledge of an upcoming scheduled chat could help someone who’s struggling. It could also uncover hidden issues. Just because your team is quiet, doesn’t mean they’re happy. Don’t forget that the moment they’re out of sight.
Keeping an eye on the quality of work
In keeping with the above point, you should also keep a close eye on the quality of work. Obviously, your impulse when a mistake is made may be to call out the individual in question. Often, that’s all it’ll take for them to rectify whatever they did wrong. This alone isn’t a sign that a team member needs help. But, if a usually efficient member of staff starts to make a lot of mistakes, it may be a sign HR need to step in. While physical staff may take time off for personal issues, your remote workers may feel the need to push on. Sadly, not even taking time to talk can put a stop to that. Still, personal distractions and such can lead to drastic reductions in the quality of work. In this instance, getting into trouble with you will only make that team member feel worse, and thus elicit further mistakes. Rather than going down a route of punishment then, it may be worth handing issues like these to HR first. It may be that you find that person could benefit from half days or some unpaid leave. Either way, this will help you get to the bottom of an issue you have no way of seeing otherwise.
Understand the risks of this new way of working
HR teams have been learning all about the potential emotional risks of office work for decades. They know all about the importance of in-office support and the right office decor. But, remote working is a whole different beast, and your HR team may not yet understand the risks involved. As such, they may be unable to provide adequate support. When you consider it, remote work seems like the ideal solution. It frees your staff to balance their working days and dictate their working environment. Your HR team may assume, then, that staff will be far happier as a result. Yet, as can be seen on sites like hackernoon.com that isn’t always the case. Experts suspect that remote work opens teams up to a whole new load of mental risks. And, your HR team need to know about them before they can address this. Social isolation is top of this list, but it also includes issues such as increased risks of anxiety and depression. That’s no surprise when you consider that we as a nation expect to go out and work every day of our lives. Doing away with this structure can do untold damage, and your HR team needs the training to deal with that.
The chance of physical work
Though it may not be practical for every member of your remote team, you may also find it’s beneficial to offer a physical office at least once a week. An entirely remote team are at significant risk of issues like those mentioned above. But, something as simple as the chance to head to the office once a week could help with that. You don’t need to make this compulsory, but you should let people know the option is there. This would allow team members to form working relationship they wouldn’t have otherwise. That alone could help reduce any feelings of isolation. This would also provide you and your HR team a chance to get to know every team members and spot any issues. You could host meetings at this time to help bring everybody together. More importantly, your HR team can take this as a chance to catch up with self-sufficient members of the team. For the duration of this day, they could keep that office door open. They could even make sure to meet with everyone for at least a few minutes. This alone could help you to resort to those old human resources methods you know so well.
As you can see, remote work should never mean leaving your team out in the cold. Supporting staff and providing what they need is as essential as ever here. All you need to do is consider implementing a few new ways of achieving that goal. By getting this right, you can ensure good relationships with your remote team for a long time to come.
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