Not much seems like it will return to life before COVID-19, particularly where employees work. Some companies in states with declining infection rates have started to slowly return to on-premises work. Others are sticking to telecommuting and relying on remote work arrangements for now. But what many leaders of companies who were largely office-based have realized is:
- There are few tasks that actually have to be done in-office.
- Even though 76% of HR leaders told Gartner that their employees’ top worry (and their own) was lost productivity, it turns out that team members who remain motivated likely stay productive.
- Operational expenses decline when teams work remotely.
As such, it’s no surprise that a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of chief financial officers from all over the world noted that 52% of them planned to “improve the remote work experience“ and/or make permanent telecommuting an option for certain positions. Video conferencing, team collaboration, HR administration and other key remote management tools can make things much easier for “off-campus” employees – and your HR team. If not in place already, adopting them sooner rather than later is imperative.
Tools to simplify remote employees’ workflows
When it comes to remote working, your employees will have a variety of styles. Some people need structure and follow a schedule and style of work nearly identical to their in-office routine. Others work in fits and starts throughout the day – like a more disorganized version of the Pomodoro Technique – or outside of regular business hours. It is up to the company, and often HR leaders, to make sure your remote workers have the tools they need to perform their jobs, regardless of their work style. A side note, having a remote work policy in place that clearly establishes expectations and guidelines for what is / is not acceptable can reduce the amount of variety in work routines.
The following are some of the most essential tech solutions for remote employees:
Communication and collaboration tools: Communication in our professional lives is always important, but it is even more critical to focus on it when most or all of your employees are remote. It’s not an option to pop into someone’s office or cubicle to ask a question so you need an alternative. Instant messaging platforms like Slack or Google Hangouts that allow teams to chat in specific channels, connect in real-time and share files easily is vital.
Remote conferencing and video calling solutions: Zoom was one of a handful of companies to grow and prosper as a result of the pandemic. Other popular video conferencing solutions include GoToMeeting, Uberconference and Microsoft Teams. These platforms not only allow video meetings with intimate-feeling conversations for a spread-out workforce, and valuable features like screen sharing, but also provide a conduit for virtual hangouts to retain camaraderie. As Sennheiser noted, it’s always valuable to have clear meeting rules, but these should be adjusted accordingly to accommodate their remote status.
Employee self-service HR software: Employers know work-from-home hours aren’t necessarily standard, so employees may be required to log their time more closely than before. Providing access to an online HR platform that features accurate time tracking and scheduling will enable employees to do this efficiently and easily. Comprehensive HR software should also include self-service functionality for checking pay stubs, requesting time-off, enrolling in benefits, updating personal information and other common administrative employee tasks.
Remote work tools for employers
Many HR leaders, managers and C-level staff are also working remotely and have just as much need for technologies that facilitate remote work. Their priorities are different from other staff, so their remote solutions must match those requirements:
Project management software: Whether it’s proprietary or a name-brand SaaS solution like Wrike or Asana, it’s important for management to have access to a project management tool capable of broad oversight.
Recruitment tools: A separate Gartner report noted that 86% of organizations planned to adopt new virtual hiring technology in the pandemic’s wake. Even if you aren’t hiring right now, that may change very quickly. Being prepared with the right remote-friendly talent acquisition and onboarding tool will make your life easier.
Cloud-based HR, benefits and payroll software: Keeping track of employees’ hours, processing payroll, managing benefits and keeping up with compliance regulations like the new leave provisions under the FFCRA and CARES Acts cannot stop just because someone has to work from home. This is the bare minimum your HR software should allow you to do. To maximize efficiency and productivity, look for HR technology that covers many other bases such as conducting remote performance reviews, maintaining training practices and making contingency plans for online open enrollment.
Choosing PeopleStrategy as your HR technology partner not only gives you all the advantages of our hire-to-retire HR solution but also the opportunity to leverage our fully licensed employee benefits broker services to put together the right mix of benefits to support your employees and their families, wherever they work!