4 steps to prepare your organization to become an effective remote workforce

Sarah Hulsey
Last updated on 25th June 2020
3 min read

Tens of thousands of office workers around the globe have been told to work from home as governments take action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). But what does this mean for your workforce?

It means many office-based employees are now predominantly, if not 100% remote working for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s up to organizations – particularly HR and People teams – to ensure that employees feel supported through this unprecedented situation.

What are the benefits of remote working?

If your employees are working remotely, ultimately it allows your business to keep functioning.

For HR and People teams setting up your organization to work from home might not be straightforward, but there are some clear benefits – ones that employees really value too.

In fact, more than 80% of 3,500 employees we polled globally placed importance on flexible and remote working.

So, what is it about working from home that employees’ value? A study found that 91% of employees believe the biggest benefit is a better work-life balance, closely followed by increased focus and productivity.

Despite the fact there are great benefits to working remotely, it takes thought and planning from the HR and People team for it to really work. Here’s the four steps you’ll need to take to prepare your organization for remote working.

1. Establish what you need for your employees to work from home

Employees might get by just fine at work and have everything they need. However, that might not be the case when they work remotely.

Operationally, employees will need the right equipment, whether that be a work mobile, a laptop, perhaps a second screen and the right software. However, to get remote work right, it goes much further than that. 

Managers and their employees will need to keep in regular contact – possibly more so than normal. Employees may need more frequent virtual meetings to talk when they’d usually just walk up to a desk to chat. Also, it’s important to check on your employee’s health and wellbeing regularly.

Speak to people managers and employees to ensure that they’re aware of what equipment they can access and get that posted out to them. Identify where they might need help or regular check-ins to support their wellbeing, keep them motivated and productive whilst working from home.

2. Design and highlight resources that are available

It’s easy for an employee in the office to walk over to HR and ask where a policy lives on a system but for employees who work remotely, it’s not quite so simple.

It might take your HR and People team five minutes to find a policy but say if 10 people ask the same question every week, you’re losing nearly an hour of your teams’ time. To avoid such a manual process, create a centralized online filing system for all your policies if you haven’t already done so.

However, highlighting the resources goes beyond just policies. Walkthrough all the resources that are available to your people. Details on your health and wellbeing initiatives to support employees, internal updates or even top tips for remote working and advice for parents working from home with children are likely to be important to your employees. By making them available online, employees can then review in their own time.

Ultimately, autonomy is important for any employee, but especially those who work from home. Give your people the abilities to self-serve so that they can go and search for the documents they need when they need them. It will help your people to get the resources in a timely manner, as well as removing administrative time from your HR team that can be used to focus on more strategic tasks.

3. Make sure your data is up to scratch

Do you have the right data for your people?

Employees when they start will give personal data such as names, date of birth, addresses and emergency contacts but only your employees will know how up to date they are.

Ask your employees regularly that the details you hold are still correct. The likelihood is you’ll never need to get hold of an employee via their personal number but ensuring that all your data is correct and as up to date as possible will mean you can get hold of them should the need arise.

Also, by checking and amending your employee data, your reporting will be more accurate.

4. Effectively communicate the changes to your people

Doing great work on designing and creating useful resources without sharing them would be a missed opportunity.

Speak to managers and employees to show them around some of the new things you’ve created to support your remote workers. Why not create a video, or share as part of a virtual meeting? It could be a good way to circulate your new resources and answer any questions your team may have.

Also, consider asking your employees for feedback and input. By asking your people what they think, either by a survey link or simply via email, they’ll be able to identify any gaps in support or resources.

Managers play a critical role in the employee feedback process, including taking action based on the results. It’s vital to reinforce the importance of your team’s participation so they feel their contributions are valued and being listened to when working from home.

Remember, you and your employees are in these uncertain times together and will resume normal working operations soon. This can be an opportunity to explore new experiences, both as a team and as individuals. 

What else can your organization do to prepare? Watch the webinar led by Sarah Hulsey, Head of Customer Success at Sage People, where we explore how HR and People teams can prepare their organization and adapt to the changes happening in the world of work.

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