Remote working is here to stay, and as the statistics show, it is actually a growing trend in the USA. 2020 was the biggest year yet for remote working, and as shown by the increase of over 300% for remote job searches on Google in the US, it is a trend that looks set to continue well into 2021 and beyond.
It is reported that 1 in 4 Americans will be working from home in 2021. These are some serious numbers, and as such, it will be critical for your business, or any business for that matter, to ensure that your people are well looked after, regardless of where they are working from. The Cloud has technologically invigorated the world of remote work, and as such, there is the misplaced belief that as long as you have the software and hardware in place, remote work is a cinch. The truth of the matter is that unless your employee wellbeing and the essential elements of the employee/employer relationship are catered for, your remote work regime will not be as productive as it should.
The sectors that are most affected
Tech and all the related offshoot industries are the main beneficiaries of the remote working phenomenon. This is because the tech-savvy have been those most suited to the required adjustments and the efficient and effective use of relevant technology to ensure that the off-grid/remote work is performed to the best of their ability. It is in cities like Denver, one of North Americas top tech cities, that we have seen a marked rise in firms now accepting that remote workers are here to stay. Plus, as some of these firm’s productivity are affected, more insights are gathered as to the importance of human resources for the remote working sector.
Many tech firms have been guilty of perhaps not managing this move to remote as well as they should have, and it is primarily because of the lack of cogent HR that this has happened.
These workers are still critical elements of the business process and, as such, will need as much, if not more, human support to ensure long-term productivity. One of the trends in this regard has been to go with outsourced HR that is then responsible for reaching out to your remote workers and providing them with the service they need.
How to secure good HR
One of the top tips for remote worker HR is to try by all means to source the support where either you or your workers are. So, if in the Colorado area, which has become renowned for remote tech-based work, look for hr consulting Denver, and you will have made the right start. Outsourced HR must reach your workers and have a local firm means that they will also likely understand the remote working environment and local culture. This goes a long way to creating empathy and a sense of solidarity. Many firms have looked at whether it is possible to outsource to large HR firs with coverage so that they have a representative to deal with HR wherever your remote worker is. These options are generally only available in the US and in cities and towns. So, a remote worker who has gone off the grid and works in the middle of rural Tennessee may not have the same actual contact as someone in the city limits of Nashville. However, all the technical requirements can be met, and support is still provided by the right HR.
Essential HR for the remote worker
The list noted below of the specific HR that is essential for remote workers is as per their counterparts in the office, but it highlights that remote workers have the same needs, if not more complex, than workers in an office setting.
- Employee Wellbeing
It is accepted that there is a lot more loneliness and isolation felt and experienced by remote workers. These feelings can heighten stress and result in high levels of disengagement with the work. This is adverse for productivity and, as such, must be one of the key issues dealt with by remote worker HR. Virtual water coolers can be set up to increase employee participation and interaction, and regular team meetings and ongoing texts and chats can be used to keep remote workers involved. These are key HR needs, and the solutions will need to be quite specific to the remote worker.
- Benefits and remuneration
When working from home or off-grid, the timing of all remuneration is key, and any issues need to be dealt with as soon as they arise. One of the best ways to ensure remote work productivity is maintained is to be certain that employees are paid on time and have access to HR to raise any issues with such payments. There may also be changes required to remuneration based on the company policy and depending on the tax regimes and labor laws in the states your workers now operate from.
- Working environment and related tech requirements
The remote office environment is as important as the traditional office as the same work is being done, by the same resources, just based somewhere else. The rise in remote work has seen an increase in health-related challenges emanating from these home offices. Thus, the ergonomics of the office and sustainability in terms of looking after remote workers are vital. Not only do workers need to have the right seating and desk requirements, but there is also access to the network, hardware, and the right technology for the tasks at hand. This is an HR role in that it requires communication and liaison with staff and the responsible technical department to ensure that these requirements are met.
- Understanding the balance of work and home life
Competent HR will understand the balance that remote workers strive to achieve. Yes, there are operational targets to be met. The business of business is business, but working from home or remotely brings various social and familial responsibilities in the self-same space as the office. This is something that workers will need assistance to navigate and understand.
- Ongoing communication
The only way remote work can be successful is with a comprehensive plan for ongoing communication. Such communication with remote workers should not be simply to monitor and update on targets, but to ensure that a holistic view is taken of the employee and their role and engagement around issues such as training and development, workplace social interaction, and office culture should be explored through such communication and as such will need a competent HR practitioner to undertake these.
It is thus clear that human resources for the remote worker are as important as when these workers were in your office. So, to answer the question posed in the heading of this article:- Yes, remote workers need HR, perhaps even more than office-based workers.