Owl labs survey has shown that about 70% of full-time workers have been working from home since the outbreak of COVD-19 pandemics.
Many research studies have also shown numerous benefits of transferring to the work-from-home model, such as increased productivity. Bearing this in mind, it’s no wonder predictions are that remote work opportunities will continue to soar in 2023.
However, the remote workforce has also brought on new challenges, both to employees and their managers – and tackling them seems to be long overdue.
Here are some of the most common issues HR managers have been experiencing as a result of switching to remote work:
Recruiting and Retention
When you’re interviewing someone for a job, there’s a certain benefit to having an in-person conversation with them.
For starters, you get to see the way candidates convey their thoughts and emotions through body language. The experience is more personal and there are no interruptions due to poor internet connection.
Switching to a hiring process via Skype or phone has proven to be challenging, to say the least.
Apart from technology-related issues, HR managers are reporting that these interviews can sometimes seem a tad forced and lack that natural spontaneity that comes with in-person interviews.
On the other hand, they also seem to be resulting in employees sending in more creative applications for jobs. Additionally, HR managers are designing more meticulous, innovative tests to ensure they attract and hire the right candidates.
Seeing how nerve-wracking the interview process can be, adding a touch of spontaneity and fun to it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.
Last, but not least, employers that are insistent on switching back to office work and taking away the benefits that come with flexible work might struggle with employee retention.
If you’re struggling with recruitment and/or retention of the top talent, you might want to look into popular recruiting agencies that can help you navigate these challenging times.
Nowadays, effective communication is possible even when employees aren’t sharing a physical working space.
E-mails, for one, are a great way to have an official record of important conversations.
Video conferences are great for collaborations, brainstorming sessions, etc. They’re also much cheaper than attending conferences in person, as they’re saving you commute and accommodation fees.
Besides, there are numerous communication apps available such as Slack or Asana that allow team members to communicate, collaborate on projects, conduct video or audio calls, etc.
Experience has shown that it’s best to stick to one or two channels of communication so you can easily keep track of all important conversations and documents you exchange with colleagues. In addition, it might be a good idea to also consider the centralization of key project data.
The centralization of key project data essentially allows project managers to gather all relevant data regarding a certain project into one source for employees to use.
This, in turn, enables your employees to easily find the resources that they need to finalize the project, without losing time on gathering incomplete data from a variety of resources.
So how is this centralization done? Usually, it is done by acquiring some of the end-to-end solutions for project management that are available on the market. These solutions come in the form of applications that unify all of the data across your company’s systems.
Although online communication does have its challenges, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be effective if managers and employees organize their time efficiently.,
Monitoring and Recognition
Tracking your employee’s performance is important because it allows you to set reasonable goals, adjust them accordingly depending on their results, assign new tasks and ultimately, reward your employees for doing great work.
The use of login and logout systems allows you to see whether and when your employees are showing up for work.
There are other useful software solutions on the market, too.
Some of them are intended to help HR managers assess the performance of employees and manage their time efficiently to reduce the odds of missing deadlines and slacking off.
These can provide data on how much time your employees spend working on a certain task, which can be useful for future predictions and an even distribution of the workload.
A good HR manager will find ways to monitor employee performance and establish the steps for training and development.
Monitoring makes space for constructive feedback, motivation of the employees, as well as recognition and appraisal of their hard work.
You should make it a priority to organize weekly meetings or send monthly emails to thank your hard-working employees for their exceptional performance.
Maintaining a Positive Company Culture
Maintaining a positive company culture may have been easier in the physical office. Even hybrid models allow more opportunities for employees to gather at least once a week on the office premises and engage in different activities together.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any ways for workers to socialize when working remotely.
For example, weekly virtual coffees have proven to be a great way of staying in touch and socializing with your colleagues about topics that are not work-related. They’re also great for introverts, as it is acceptable to just sit and listen to other people chatting or not show up at all.
Moreover, it sends a message that the employer cares about their wellbeing and encourages their employees to take a break.
Another fun idea to bring your employees together is company quizzes and active virtual breaks.
Virtual company quizzes are a great way for remote employees to connect with their teammates. You can run them at the beginning of meetings or schedule them separately. These can consist of internal trivia about the company, pop culture facts, general knowledge questions or whatever else you can think of.
Employees can also engage in active virtual breaks to squeeze some physical activity into their working hours. For example, the productivity of your employees could greatly benefit from them having a 15-minute break to stretch, do a quick workout, or take a brisk walk and empty their minds.
Keep in mind that these activities should always be optional and that the time reserved for them should be well-balanced against the time reserved for work. You also don’t want to create a sense of disconnection between the employees engaging in these activities and those who prefer not to.
However, be cautious about the traps of virtual events such as these, as they can end up backfiring and leading to a sense of disconnection among your employees. Arranging too many of these events back-to-back is something we’d advise against.
The physical and mental well-being of employees has never been more important and that’s what every company’s culture should be about!
Supporting Your Employees
This newfound flexibility has brought on additional challenges to employees with hectic schedules at home.
On one hand, working parents who’ve switched to remote work get to spend more time with their children. They are usually freed from having to attend unnecessary meetings, get to save on commuting and childcare costs and can have a better work-life balance.
On the other hand, being surrounded by distracting children while working can lead to a deeper sense of isolation, which doesn’t help in reducing their stress levels or positively impacting their productivity.
However, speaking of children and flexibility, you should be transparent about your company policy regarding flexible schedules and working hours so as to avoid any confusion among your childless employees
It is important that you highlight that flexible work hours are valid for all employees so they can schedule their time as they see fit. This ensures that those who are not using them don’t end up resentful of those who do.
Thoughtful communication, giving employees options and reminding them that you’re all in this together can go a long way. After all, you’re building a community at your workplace and having that sense of belonging is important.
Another important tip for HR managers is to do semiregular check-ups with your employees. This way, you can make sure that they feel cared for without overwhelming them.
As for the working parents, introducing workplace solutions for childcare may be another benefit for employers to consider. An example of this would be setting up childcare facilities or organizing classes for children while the parents are working.
Putting in the effort to implement these tips may help you provide the necessary support that your employees need.
As you can see, while remote work does have numerous benefits, there are still challenges associated with it such as finding a workforce and properly rewarding them as an incentive to stay.
However, by introducing quality channels of communication and activities which promote employee engagement, the negative impact of these challenges can be greatly reduced.
Take care of your employees – and they’ll take care of your business!