For many companies, the shift to a fully-remote workforce took place early in 2020. As the pandemic continued to drag out, many employees still found themselves laboring in a virtual workspace over a year later.
If your company is still following a remote-work model, it’s important that you don’t leave your HR department behind. This can easily happen with your staff scattered to the four winds. Here are a few crucial aspects to keep in mind if you want your HR department to effectively support your remote operation.
1. Consider Payroll Complications
You can pay salaried employees in a predictable manner no matter where they’re working. However, if you have any staff members paid at a per hour rate, remote work can complicate manners.
If your HR department heads up payroll duties, make sure they’re ready to handle the complications that come with paying employees within a remote-first workplace.
For instance, your department should create policies for tracking time worked and hourly pay earned. These guidelines should be crystal clear. They should leave no room for error as employees clock in their work from an endless variety of different circumstances and situations.
In addition, if your workforce is remote, you may find that it spreads beyond geographic boundaries over time. When that happens, you may find that you’re hiring freelancers or even full-time employees that live in different states or countries.
This can lead to additional complexities as you consider how to pay individuals who are either contractors or working in another country. If this is the case, make sure that you’re equipped with a remote-friendly global payroll software solution.
2. Keep Clear Lines of Communication Open
Payroll isn’t the only thing that requires clear protocols and guidelines. In fact, if there’s one area that’s even more important, it has to be communication.
Remember, every remote employee is working in an isolated pocket. This requires further protocols for when and how communication with the human resources department should take place. Proper communication can accomplish several things:
- Good communication can help you establish reasonable expectations for your remote workforce. You can tailor these SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based) benchmarks according to what you can reasonably expect from a remote work setting.
- Good communication can help you monitor and support employees who may otherwise become detached and secluded. This requires trust, which is why you must be careful not to abuse your communication channels as an opportunity to micromanage.
- Good communication can help you maintain office-related rules when your employees are on the clock. Regulations like staying off of social media or avoiding alcohol during work hours are often still desirable even from a remote workforce.
The HR department is an interaction-oriented part of any organization. As such, it’s essential that you maintain healthy and effective lines of communication. This should apply to leadership, employees, and even other departments.
3. Encourage Engagement
One of HR’s biggest responsibilities is to keep your workforce focused and invested. In other words, they must help employees stay engaged. This can be particularly difficult in a remote work setting. HR should consider this potential shortcoming and take steps to address it by:
- Planning remote-friendly group activities, such as having virtual water cooler breaks.
- Implementing an employee engagement app to promote interactions amongst your staff members.
- Celebrating previously in-person events online, such as throwing a remote secret Santa party.
- Asking for feedback — this is one of the simplest and most effective ways to keep employees invested in an ever-improving workspace.
It’s difficult to maintain steady engagement with a fully remote workforce. This is why HR reps must brainstorm ways to do so on a regular basis. This goes a long way in helping them maintain peace and healthy communication in their role as office intermediaries.
4. Create a Solid Remote Recruitment Strategy
Every HR department can benefit from a solid recruitment strategy. This should include everything from building up your employer brand to implementing applicant tracking software.
When you go remote — and with little-to-no warning, no less — any existing hiring strategy can be lost in the process. This once again becomes a concern for HR departments.
However, while in-person recruitment may be at a standstill, alternatives can be found. HR teams should make a concerted effort to create an alternative recruitment strategy that is remote-friendly. This should consider organizational needs, recruitment tools required, and any other strategic considerations particular to each situation.
5. Automate HR Wherever You Can
Human resources is a human-first affair. However, that doesn’t mean it’s immune to technology. On the contrary, it’s wise for a remote HR staff to automate whenever possible.
For example, utilizing HR management software can help you stay more organized, even from a distance. Automation options like this can help improve productivity and reduce costs as well. In addition, they can help provide a sense of consistency in your policy and compliance regulations across your entire organization.
HR should lean on automation whenever it can. This will free up reps to focus on overseeing the remote work activity throughout your business without unnecessary minutiae distracting them.
6. Support Struggling Staff
The remote world is overwhelming for many. It doesn’t matter if an employee is struggling with depression, a lack of socialization, or an inability to manage their time. There are going to be cases where HR must step in to help encourage and support staff.
However, proper support takes a good deal of coordination. As such, remote HR departments should make sure to:
- Create cloud-based resources that are easily accessible to remote workers.
- Maintain open, two-way lines of communication.
- Research how they can be more effective at supporting a remote workforce.
From supporting struggling staff members to engagement, payroll, recruitment, and more, there are countless challenges that remote HR teams face. Fortunately, given time, patience, and teamwork, most of these can be addressed.
So review the list above and consider where your HR department is lacking. Then take steps to remedy the situation so that they, in turn, can help the rest of your workforce weather the ongoing storm together.