REMOTE WORKING LESSONS FOR HR TEAMS IN 2021
Life is always about change, it Is the only thing that is constant, and with this change there is always learning that accompanies it. For some, it is about learning a foreign concept which they are yet to master and for others, it may be learning to adjust their life to the change. The pandemic put us all in either one of the scenarios, but in terms of business, it was all about the latter and finding a way to thrive in this new environment.
Keeping company communication
One of the most important practices for remote working is communication. With a dispersion of employees as it is during this time, this is the key to ensuring that the employees do not feel isolated and a tool to reinforcing effective leadership. Communication allows for the company to monitor their employees and maintain morale, engagement, and satisfaction.
Any changes being made
The employees are at the heart of the organization and as such are often greatly affected by the changes that occur in the organization. These changes include restructuring, downsizing or bankruptcy, benefits changes, mergers and outsourcing. Employees need to be made aware of the profundity of the change and how it will affect them. The communication between them and the management during the change will ensure that they do not feel alienated.
Updated tasks and new events
Working remotely can be difficult and even with the best technology at our disposal, it can still be very easy for the employees to miss out on important events within the company and new tasks that arise that they are unaware of. Communication guarantees that the employees will be included in any events that happen and will also help them to stay ahead of their tasks so that they do not miss any work that needs to get done.
As much as business is a formal environment and requires formal communication about the changes, rules, and procedures, it can still be a laidback social environment. Remote workers need to be kept in the loop about the social side of the company like if there is a new employee or if someone is being recognized for their outstanding performance.
Revive company culture
Company culture is at the heart of any organisation, and can be a vital aspect for employee motivation and satisfaction but most importantly, it helps align the behavior of the individuals with the goals of the company. Reviving the company culture will give the employees a shared purpose and even though they are all separated, it not only helps in reminding them about what they are working toward but a revival in this regard can also improve their performance.
Adopt using tools or apps for communication
Think of a giant oak tree that has its roots deep underground and interconnected with no real singularity; that is what technology and, subsequently, communication has become. With the development of technology, communication has become easier than ever and can literally be either a press of a button or an app installation away.
Adopt a company calendar
Even with the pandemic at hand and a reality of remote working, activities in business can still occur as normal, well, as per the new normal that is. A company calendar can create awareness about the events and activities that will be happening such as webinars, meetings, progress report submission and is essential in keeping the employees up to date, all the time.
One thought that comes to mind with remote working and the pandemic is streamlining. With all this technology at our disposal, it is easy to eliminate processes that have become nonessential and optimize processes so that they work with efficiency and speed. One way of doing this is with employee self-service dashboard which allows them to access their payslips, update their details and put in their own leave. This self-service is an important step in streamlining and you can learn about choosing the correct HR software in our blog.
Effective communication apps
The apps that make communication possible is the seed that the giant Oak tree grew out from. The applications that help us connect with each other span far and wide and with these, there can never be any kind of isolation.
Google Meets/ Zoom
In the past, meetings had to be done in a room, with people sitting around a table and having have one of them slowly drift away into slumber as the speaker drones on. Now, at the convenience of apps like Zoom and Google Meet, interviews can be conducted from the comfort of the respective homes and communication between a manager and their subordinate can be more direct than ever.
Apps like Microsoft Teams and Slack can help boost the employee morale as with these, everybody in the office or in their project groups have direct lines of communication with each other and can offer their assistance or information wherever needed, they can freely share their concerns and thoughts, discuss the work they have been assigned and if anybody misses an update, they will find out about in through channels like this.
Role of technology in working remotely
When looking at the role of technology in a remote working context, it is essential to think about the concept of the three C’s; Connect, Communicate and Collaborate. Technology is the figurative bridge to the gap between the worker and the organization and the worker and their colleagues because it fosters relationships between these points which is essential in assuring that operations still run smoothly.
Understand the downside of remote working for
Life needs to have balance because like it is said, “too much of a good thing is a bad thing”, and so while technology and remote working is great for the organization and the employees, one can expect that there are negative aspects that accompany it. We saw a huge spike in employee productivity when working from home during the first initial hit of the pandemic, and businesses and employers were delighted at this change, but it is vital that we consider the impact this can have on the employee. Watch out for signs of burnout, and encourage employees to take lunch breaks and create a separate place in the home (if possible) to work from to benefit from that ‘leaving the office’ feeling.
If you want to know more about how to manage remote working, read our post here.
Lack of co-worker interaction
When employees are in the office, the daily water cooler chat gives employees a mind break from their work, and often makes their work product improve.. However, in a remote working context, interaction does not need to be a necessary practice because there is no reason to communicate other that through work related contexts. This lack of communication can cause long term effects to the co-worker relationship as they might not be able to communicate effectively if they were to return to the office.
Unlike the office, distractions can become a concern because the employee might leave their task to take care of a personal errand, finish a tv show, pacify their child or give their pet some attention. When these distractions happen, it breaks their focus and can result in a decline of their performance because they might not give it the effort they would have if they were in the office, and they could either take a longer time to get the task done or do it poorly.
A reality that accompanies remote working is burnout, and its calamitous effect on the people who experience it and between the pandemic fatigue and work stress, it is very easy for employees to underperform. This reality can severely damage the employees’ health in all aspects – mentally, physically and emotionally – and if not treated, can have intense result on their work and social life.
Added work responsibility
Due to the downsizing of many companies, it is possible that responsibilities for other employees are increasing to compensate for the vacant position. Leaders are assigning more roles and task to their team members so that they are no longer one function, but multiple functions within the group, for example, being a researcher, writer, moderator. This added responsibility can prove too much to handle if the employee is not properly trained or capable to take it on and if this is the case, performance will also decline.
Although the employees work from home and are close to their families/place of rest all the time, this does not guarantee that they are spending enough time with their families or getting enough rest. It is possible for the employees to bring their onsite schedules/habits to their remote environment and willingly take on more responsibility which can lead to them working longer hours, not have proper rest or even become isolated due to their constant work.
Although technology allows us to communicate with each other, it is still very easy to feel isolated because there is one-to-one human connection. No matter how much we use technology to communicate, there will always be an emotional handicap, and this will contribute to the feeling of loneliness which many have experienced during this time.
Lack of structure
When employees work from home, there is always freedom, apart from the hours that they have to work but there is an absence of a proper routine for the day. This lack of routine causes employees to not have a proper sleep schedule because they no longer have to be early risers to drive to work, nor do they have to sit in the same place the entire day, which is also a downside because they can be prone to distractions.
Change procedures to fit remote work
Every company has a set of procedures that they adhere to and around which they form their best practice. This needs to be adapted to fit work from home conditions (as they have always been written to reflect office working). Changes should include; changes in disciplinary procedures, dress codes for online calls, stricter working hours, and process for technology and equipment needed by employees, but to name a few.
Update your company procedure to aid remote work
Procedures often need to change as the company changes and in this context, there is no exception. Companies need to adjust their procedures to make it easier for communication and information to flow through the channels and for work to be done. A good example is processes like the chain of command need to be adjusted so that the employee can speak directly to the person they need instead of going through the channels and risking the information being lost in communication.
Provide the tools needed
When you adopt a remote working practice, it is essential that you provide your employee with the tools that they need to succeed in their job. As the organization, it is your responsibility to ensure that your employee is well equipped with the software or the technology that they need and that they are properly trained with it to guarantee that they perform well.
How gulfHR will streamline your remote employee culture
Adopting an effective HRMS system in your organization will definitely help you in all the aspects surrounding remote work, and even help you improve how your employees adapt to it. A software like gulfHR can help you manage all the changes, and monitor everything you’re your employees from attendance, accessibility of HR information (such as payslips, company updates, policy changes) through the ESS module and so much more! gulfHR also has a suite of tools, such as ShadowMatch, to help you identify areas around remote working that can help your employees thrive in the new environment.
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