The COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to rapidly shift to remote work in 2020. What was seen as a temporary measure has now become a permanent fixture for some organizations.
This large-scale shift to distributed teams has created both opportunities and challenges for human resources (HR) professionals. As remote work looks here to stay, HR leaders need to rethink their strategies for managing a dispersed workforce.
Establishing Clear Communication Channels
With employees spread out geographically, communication can become more disjointed. HR needs to establish clear guidelines and expectations around communication practices for distributed teams.
Set regular check-in meetings, both one-on-one and team wide. Daily stand-up meetings are common in fully remote companies. Make sure employees understand the preferred medium (video vs. audio) for different types of meetings.
Do not assume information will organically disseminate across locations. Be highly purposeful in sharing company news, project updates, policy changes, and other announcements. Keep the lines of communication extremely open when managing distributed teams.
Building Trust & Collaboration Across Distance
Collaboration looks different when employees are not down the hall from each other. HR leaders need to be intentional about building relationships and trust between distributed team members.
Schedule regular in-person events or retreats. While this may not be feasible annually, aim to gather distributed employees in-person at least once every two years. Use these opportunities for team building, strategy alignment and connecting face-to-face.
Role model welcoming behavior and highlight examples of successful collaboration across locations. Employees take cues from leaders. Setting an inclusive tone from the top down makes it easier for distributed teams to bond.
Reinforcing Company Culture Virtually
With limited in-person interactions, conveying company culture across distributed teams can be challenging. HR leaders need to get creative in spreading cultural values and norms remotely.
Share culture guides and handbooks with employees across all locations. Supplement these with short videos highlighting what the culture means in practice. Provide specific examples of desired and undesired behaviors for reference.
Bring remote employees into informal in-office activities when possible. If your headquarters hosts a company picnic or game night, set up a live stream for those working from home. Take videos at social events to share across the organization.
Rethinking Performance Management
Managing performance across distributed teams requires adjustments to workflows and processes. HR needs to rework performance management to fit the remote environment.
Schedule one-on-one check-ins more frequently when employees work separately. Bi-weekly or monthly is ideal for remote employees, versus quarterly for in-office staff. Have managers connect more consistently to stay aligned.
Train managers to lead remote teams effectively. Managing distributed direct reports requires new skills around building trust, assessing performance virtually, resolving conflict remotely, and more. Develop customized training content to help leaders strengthen remote management capabilities.
Many companies choose to outsource certain functions such as accounting to distributed team members, such as accounts payable and receivable. This can provide cost savings and round-the-clock productivity. However, according to the folk at VertiSource HR, outsourcing accounting work remotely should be done strategically.
Assess what tasks can be handed out versus those requiring in-house staff. Consider privacy needs, access to proprietary data, regulatory requirements, and impact on customer experience. Avoid fully outsourcing critical accounting processes.
Vet vendors thoroughly when outsourcing accounting functions. Review security protocols, compliance systems, contingency planning, and data privacy safeguards. Ensure distributed team members adhere to necessary regulations.
Mental Health Support in Remote Work
In remote work settings, we understand the importance of mental health and prioritize employee well-being. Our Human Resources initiatives offer access to mental health resources, assistance programs, and wellness activities. Regular manager check-ins help address any concerns, fostering a work environment where employees can effectively balance their professional and personal lives.
Technology and Cybersecurity
Acknowledging the vital role of technology in remote work, we focus on cybersecurity. Our employees undergo training in data security best practices and have access to secure remote solutions, including VPNs and multi-factor authentication. We also keep our team updated on cybersecurity threats to ensure data protection.
Diversity and Inclusion in Remote Teams
We are committed to maintaining a diverse and inclusive remote work environment. This commitment is reflected in our inclusive hiring practices and training on unconscious bias. We conduct virtual team-building activities to promote inclusivity and regularly seek feedback from remote team members to value their contributions.
Compliance in Remote Work
Adhering to labor laws and regulations across various locations is essential. Our HR team performs compliance audits to meet legal standards and provides guidance on tax implications and compliance for remote employees. This approach ensures a legally compliant remote workforce.
Employee Development and Training
We advocate for ongoing learning and development among remote employees. Access to a range of virtual training programs, including skill-building workshops and industry certifications, is provided. Employees are encouraged to pursue personalized development plans, supported by resources to enhance their career growth.
Feedback is integral to the growth and engagement of remote workers. We maintain open communication channels for employees to voice feedback on projects and their remote work experience. Regular surveys, virtual meetings, and one-on-one sessions help us gather insights to continually refine our remote work practices.
Effective Remote Onboarding
Our onboarding process is designed to welcome new hires and equip them for success, regardless of their location. Comprehensive orientation materials, virtual introductions, and remote-specific training are provided. Regular check-ins with managers and mentors ensure new employees smoothly integrate into their roles and the team.
Adapting to Remote Work Dynamics
Remote work requires adaptability. HR departments should foster flexible working conditions that cater to the diverse needs of employees. This can include offering varied working hours and options for remote work. It’s important to establish clear guidelines for handling work responsibilities during unexpected situations like family emergencies or technical difficulties.
The rise of remote work requires fundamental changes in how HR supports and develops distributed teams. With strategic focus on communication, collaboration, culture, performance and outsourcing, HR leaders can keep a dispersed workforce connected, aligned, and engaged. While managing across distances brings challenges, the right practices position both employees and companies for success.