This year has changed the way we work forever. The global COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many companies relying on telecommuting and remote work tools for an indefinite period of time. Even employers who typically prefer their employees work in a physical office space have realized three things:
- There are very few roles that have to be done in-office.
- Even though 76% of HR leaders told Gartner pollsters that their employees’ top worry (and their own) was lost productivity, it’s become clear that in situations where team members remain motivated, they stay productive.
- Companies can reduce overall operational expenses when more people work from home.
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. Adopting them sooner rather than later (if you haven’t already) is imperative.
Tools to simplify remote employees’ workflows
When it comes to working remotely, no two employees’ have the same routine. Some people need structure and follow a schedule and style of work nearly identical to their in-office habits. Others who work from home do so in fits and starts throughout the day – like a more disorganized version of the Pomodoro Technique – or outside of regular business hours. The point being: as an HR or other business leader, it is your responsibility to provide technologies and resources that support all remote work styles.
Here are some of the most essential tech solutions for remote employees:
Communication and collaboration tools: While there’s no time in working life when communication of all kinds isn’t important, it’s especially critical to guarantee it when most or all of your employees are remote. Instant messaging using a platform like Slack or Google Hangouts that allows teams to chat in specific channels and permits easy file-sharing is vital.
Remote conferencing and video calling solutions: Zoom wasn’t as widely known a work tool as other video conferencing solutions pre-pandemic. Now it’s seemingly ubiquitous among remotely operating companies – though plenty of organizations are also using GoToMeeting, Uberconference or Microsoft Teams. These systems 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: Work-from-home hours aren’t necessarily standard, so employees may be required to log their time more closely than ever before with a comprehensive HR platform that features accurate time tracking and scheduling. Such tools should also include easy access to manage payroll and benefits.
Remote work tools for employers
Many HR leaders, managers and C-level staff are also out of office when companies are fully or partially remote-operating and they have just as much need for critical telecommuting tools such as:
Project management software: Whether it’s proprietary or a name-brand SaaS like Wrike or Asana, those with managerial responsibilities at any level require 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, who knows when that might change? Being prepared in advance with the right remote-friendly talent acquisition and onboarding tool is a wise move.
Cloud-based HR, benefits and payroll software: Keeping track of employees’ hours and payroll is vital for budgeting as well as compliance with regulations like the Fair Labor Standards Act. But a comprehensive HRMS tool should also cover many other bases: tracking use of both standard benefits and new leave provisions under the FFCRA and CARES Acts, conducting remote performance reviews, maintaining training practices, making contingency plans for online open enrollment and much more.
PeopleStrategy not only gives you all the advantages of our hire-to-retire HR technology suite to manage recruiting, compliance, payroll, benefits administration and more, but also offers full employee benefits broker services to develop and manage a long-term benefits strategy.