(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Criteria, a leading provider of pre-employment testing services. To learn more about how pre-employment testing can benefit your talent acquisition strategy, check out Criteria’s “Definitive Guide to Pre-Employment Testing”. I’ve found it to be a comprehensive guide that I keep handy all the time. Enjoy!)
Many people have been predicting that the pandemic will have a lasting impact on remote work. I came across an article the other day that stated prior to COVID-19, about 4% of the total U.S. workforce was working remotely and since, the number has grown tenfold to about 48%. In a study from Global Workplace Analytics, they estimate that remote work will level off to about 25-30% of the workforce at the point that we reach our new normal.
But 25-30% is still significant portion of the workforce. This means that organizations should develop a formal long-term strategy for managing remote employees.
5 Remote Work Considerations
Back when organizations were initially facing the pandemic, I’m sure that they made some decisions quickly and that’s fine. We’re not criticizing. Now, organizations have more time to plan and they should. They can put together a cohesive strategy so the employee and the company can benefit from the remote work arrangement. Here are five things to consider:
Align remote work with office work. Organizations already have policies, procedures, and guidelines in place for how things happen at the office. Do the same for remote work. While remote employees might have flexibility in terms of their time, they still have to be held accountable for delivering results.
For example, one area that will need to be addressed is how remote employees receive training and development. We know how that happens at the office (i.e. classroom sessions, on-the-job training, etc.) How will it happen remotely?
Inventory what remote workers need in terms of equipment. Organizations should have a plan for creating a productive and safe work environment both in the office and remotely. I don’t want to get too off-track here but, workers’ compensation is still a factor for employees who telework. Remote work needs to be safe work. Organizations might need to help remote employees with desks, chairs, etc. to insure they are working in a safe and healthy environment.
It could make some sense to talk with your risk management and legal counsel to discuss best practices for remote employee’s well-being. Let employees know that their safety is important, even when they’re working remotely.
Identify technology needs and expectations. This aligns with the last point regarding equipment. Obviously, remote employees will need technology – both hardware and software. It’s possible they have some technology at home that they can use but it might need an upgrade like an extra monitor. Or an additional software license.
In addition, they need to understand proper data privacy and security. As more employees work remotely, they need to understand proper protocols for accessing company data, printing data, and disposing of data. Maybe the company should make sure remote employees have secure internet access and maybe even a paper shredder for confidential documents. Something to discuss with your IT, legal, and risk management departments.
Train managers on how to support remote work. Managers know how to support employees in a traditional office environment. Remote work could be a new challenge. If managers haven’t been responsible for a remote workforce, it might be helpful to provide them with tips and resources.
In the first point, I mentioned training and development. The reason companies conduct training is to help employees perform better. This can’t get lost as organizations allow more remote work. Managers need to receive training on how to continue to coach and monitor remote employee performance. And give them the tools to reward and recognize remote employee productivity.
Create an agreement. While this initial work from home situation was driven by a pandemic, a long-term remote work strategy will require the manager and employee to agree on performance expectations as well as the consequences of non-performance.
In the prior points, we’ve talked about several things that might be worth mentioning in a remote work agreement – performance expectations, equipment, technology, etc. Another situation to consider is availability. Even when employees work remotely, there might be times when they need to come to the office. It’s important to set the right expectations when it comes to availability.
A Long Term Remote Work Strategy is Good for Everyone
Remote work (aka telework) has been a trend for quite some time. Our current situation might be different because there are organizations (and employees!) that were not considering remote work a few months ago…but now they are.
The organization’s talent goals remain the same. A remote workforce must feel connected to their work and the organization, even when they’re not in the office every day. They need to feel that their manager supports them and that they have a future with the company. All of these things can be accomplished with a well-designed remote work strategy.
P.S. I mentioned learning and development a few times during today’s article. If you want to learn more about how to “Support Remote Employee Learning and Development Using These 5 Strategies”, join me and the Criteria team for a webinar on Thursday, October 1, 2020 at 10a Pacific / 1p Eastern. If you’re not available, I hope you’ll sign up anyway and get the link to the recording. It will be time well spent!14