Working virtually from anywhere will be an increasing HR trend in 2018. In a 20-year span working from home, at a coffee shop, and other convenient locations outside of the job location increased from 4% to 37%. VPN and other technology make it easy to access work and all related cloud based systems from nearly any device. This also means that companies can globally add to the workforce efforts with relative ease.
In fact, many start-ups are a result of remote team collaborations. Remote work efforts have its advantages such as having a larger pool of candidates to choose from, minimal to zero overhead costs, and flexibility. The disadvantages include communication hiccups, determining whether employees are performing accordingly, and limited interaction among team members.
There are different ways to structure remote working efforts to achieve company goals. Some are combination or hybrid models of team members who are designated to work in the office and remote workers. Other models are comprised of the entire force working remotely.
Most of the challenges are mitigated using the correct set of technology solutions for communicating across time zones, tracking team member hours and deadlines, determining how well remote staff aligns with the company values when executing tasks, and securing data transmitted over the internet. Yet and still remote work efforts allow organizations to offer team members better work-life balance and is a bonus employee retention strategy.
Remote HR Management processes include recruiting staff, managing the performance of leadership and satellite office operations, supervising field specialist efforts, measuring how employees are working within the company vision, and monitoring internal and external communications.
A thorough remote recruiting strategy includes efficient onboarding to acclimate new team members to other personnel, operations, and tools necessary to succeed. Videoconferencing technology is an excellent solution to assist with even the most basic onboarding components like virtually touring the office and familiarizing new hires with existing organizational members.
Giselle Kovary, co-founder of Toronto-based n-gen People Performance recommends, “setting up performance management processes with SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Timely) and clearly defined competencies that make it possible for leaders to accurately assess the performance of various team members.” Commonly used tools to pair up with performance measurement strategies are time tracking applications, project management employee monitoring, spyware installed on company issued devices, and intelligent software that digitally monitor behaviours by recognizing patterns related to theft, lack of productivity, and other inefficiencies.
Supervise Field Performance
An alternative to measuring employee hours is the ability to evaluate accomplishments. Usually, experienced managers know precisely how long it takes to execute a given task. Remote field workers have a lot of freedom and this can facilitate bad business practices. GPS tracking provides managers with insights into how employees spend time in the field. There are both covert and overt GPS tracking tools available.
Performance tools monitor how employees utilize company resources and time allotted to work in alignment with the company vision. It’s critical to make sure team members carry out the roles they are hired to fulfill while remaining in compliance with company policies. Internet usage on company time using the private network resulting in termination typically includes excessively surfing the web for non-business purposes, accessing inappropriate web content, and direct violation of company policies.
Inappropriate web and email content usually involves adult material, game sites, social networking sites, web entertainment, e-commerce sites, sports media, and external blogs unrelated to the company’s business objectives.
Affordable and reliable video conferencing and collaborations tools are consistently evolving. Webinars and videos can be used to deliver updates and new product or service implementations to remote staff. Solutions assist Human Resource managers to monitor communication tools such as email and company issued communication mobile phones. Email monitoring tools help discover when company email may be misused to violate company policy, deliver offensive or inappropriate language, excessively used for
non-business or personal reasons, and violate confidentiality policies.
Virtual Private Networks or commonly referred to as VPNs were originally invented to protect company data when the network was accessible beyond the work site. The initial VPN scenario was purposed for companies wishing to establish distant offices that utilized one secure network to transmit information over the internet between all locations. Privacy is the number one priority of operating such a network and here is a list of the top five VPNs for remote working efforts.
Organizations should seek legal consultation in deciding how to manage remote employees since in some geographic locations it’s illegal to invasively monitor team members unless it’s proven that it is necessary and there are no alternatives. It is standard for the consent to be given prior to recording all conversations.
In the US, it is considered legal to use employee information to find needed data when employees are not available, protect data and propriety information, scan systems for illegal software, investigate criminal accusations and breaches of company policies such as harassment, and search for violations of communication tool usage for non-business or offensive purposes.
Productivity and job satisfaction are high level priorities for businesses depending on remote work efforts and although careful monitoring of employees is necessary, don’t forget that team members need opportunities to communicate informally.
Cloud-based chat tools are great for allowing team members to get to know one another on a limited basis. Other considerations to develop company culture that permits rewarding telecommunication opportunities while achieving successful business operations consider varying and distributing compensation, work schedules, and responsibilities between employees and contractors.
It can be easier to compensate contractors for producing great quality work on your behalf rather than have employees carry out certain project related tasks. This also frees up decision making staff to focus on high level management duties that keep the company running smoothly. Telecommuting is definitely the future of workplace culture and it benefits organizations to figure out how to embark on that business model path sooner than later.