‘Work from home’ is a much used term these days. Organizations usually have a defined set of processes in place for remote employees and for the one-off instances where a team or department resorts to ‘work-from-home’. In fact, this is an option that offers your employees an added flexibility and if research is to be believed, it has also shown higher levels of productivity. Automattic, best known for giving the world WordPress.com, is working on a completely distributed model with employees all over the globe. So yes, there can be success with remote working models.
But how does this translate for an HR manager?
HR in the era of work from home
Human resources play a significant role in building out an organization’s workforce, ensuring their growth and development towards established goals, implementation and execution of policies and procedures and setting the culture. Depending on the size of the organization, the HR Manager will own one or multiple hats – human resource planning - recruitment & selection, employee relations, performance management, compensation & benefits, compliance with labor laws, training & development and employee communications.
So how do you go about managing your employees who are not in front of you? Welcome to the subtle art of managing from afar!
The two C’s to live by when remote – Communication & Collaboration
These two C’s are the holy grail of successfully executing any work from home or remote project. With distributed teams, it is absolutely critical to ensure that the lines of communication within your HR teams as well as those of employees within departments don’t break down. Thanks to technology, there are numerous platforms available to ensure constant contact between departments be it Slack, Hangouts, Skype etc. Remember to avoid the dangers of working in silos as an HR manager you must leverage the benefits of these platforms and also encourage employees to do the same. This gives everyone in the organization/ department insight into the expectations, the progress on the deliverables and the end results.
Documentation – Your new best friend
Every coin has two sides! In addition to the added flexibility and work life balance that you get with a remote work scenario, it’s also critical to ensure you document discussions, takeaways and action points to ensure all concerned personnel are on the same page and the message intended is the actual message delivered. Otherwise, it will leave you with a ‘Chinese whisper-like’ scenario!
Working across distributed teams comes with its own set of challenges so ensure you have a clear and documented Work from Home policy which all employees are aware of and can access easily. This document is paramount as it will serve as the guideline to be followed whenever a remote work environment is to be observed.
Resource planning and hiring
While you may collaborate with your team members and have a clear understanding of the hiring requirements, you still need to build out your candidate pipeline to ensure you’re bringing in the best candidates who are a fit skillswise and culture-wise.
We’ve built out an elaborate step-by-step guide to help you stay on top of your hiring goals or Hire-from-Home as we call it.
Employee Life cycle Management
While you go about your daily activities you may find it challenging and even boring managing a resource that isn’t in front of you. What you need to remember is that check-in calls and progress updates do not need to be a one-way monologue but rather an enriching interaction between you and your employees. Use this time to connect with your employees, understand their challenges and keep them apprised of expectations. Recurring check-ins and reviews can help you go a long way both in ensuring productivity in times of remote work and maintaining a connection with them. Training and development in itself is a massive effort that requires collective involvement from the team and yet remotely it is still a very achievable feat.
Internal communications, rewards and recognition can just as easily be substituted online. In fact this also leaves a digital imprint for employees which they can use to add to their profiles – employer branding becoming an added advantage.
Are you ready to be the Work from Home HR Manager
Whether a remote option is a one-time occurrence or a permanent requirement, the beauty of technology is that it brings everyone that much closer at the click of a button! By establishing a set WFH schedule and adherence to the existing policies, you can lead by example. Not all check-ins have to have an agenda, remote work can get lonely. As the ‘people champion’ of the organization, make time to check in with your colleagues and team, socializing and regular breaks will help you retain your sanity and make the work from home a success.
To get started on your work-from-home and ace your remote work, we’ve put together a simple checklist to help you get started or get in touch with our team to know more about working from home for HR professionals.