Prior to the pandemic, employers had a multitude of objections and apprehensions about remote work. While it may seem as though this type of flexibility has only become a real option in recent years amidst advances in digital technology, remote work in its current form has actually been around since the 1970s. In fact by 1987, even before the invention of Wi-Fi, the number of telecommuters in the U.S. had reached as high as 1.5 million.
With the myriad digital tools now at our disposal, and after many companies successfully shifted to an all-remote workforce essentially overnight, employers no longer have a case for objecting to work flexibility. Concerns about connectivity, productivity, security, etc., have all been proven to be largely unfounded, and the risks associated with denying employees the right to remote work with no valid justification are high. Accordingly, if you don’t want to watch your employee engagement, retention, and overall employer brand plummet, you’ll need to put systems in place to ensure your employees can comfortably and successfully work from home, even after COVID-19 is no longer a threat.
The Pros and Cons of Remote Work
Enabling employees to work remotely has both positives and negatives for the company as well as for its workers. Some of the benefits include:
- Employers can source the absolute top players from a global pool rather than being constrained to recruiting from only the talent in their immediate vicinity
- Remote working can drastically decrease employer overhead e.g. through reducing the amount of office space that’s needed, and potentially lowering salary demands
- Employees gain more time and a better work/life balance from not having to commute
On the other hand, remote work can also create some new challenges:
- Employees working from home while many of their colleagues work onsite can quickly become isolated
- Communication can become more difficult and less effective when some employees are only connecting with teammates at predetermined times and from behind a screen
- Some employees may indeed be less productive working from somewhere other than the office, particularly if their home environment has a large number of distractions
Luckily, there is a wide array of tools that can help counter the negative potential impacts of remote work. With so many options though, your search process can rapidly become unwieldy. Read on for our take on how to make HR tech work for you and your team during these new and challenging times.
How to make HR tech work for you
As with any other digital tool, HR tech should work for you, not the other way around. Historically, HR software has been all-consuming and clunky, focused on providing complex functionality to HR professionals with minimal regard for employees. Increasingly though, HR tech is migrating towards a focus on empowering employees to self-serve to a large extent, mirroring consumer tools in their usability, and equipping People teams with much needed data and transparency. Just as HR tech has evolved to meet new needs in the market, HR tech purchasers also need to evolve their approach in order to ensure they get the functionalities they really need.
As opposed to other department-specific tools, such as those for sales teams, accountants, marketers, etc. which have limited user groups, HR technology products need to serve everyone in the company. Accordingly, any procurement process should involve a cross-departmental vetting team in order to maximize the chance of success. In addition, training should be thorough and ongoing, rather than something that’s provided one-time, after which employees are left to fend for themselves.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, ensure that the tools you’re purchasing actually solve the problems your organization is facing. Too many times, buyers are either talked into believing that they need the newest, shiniest tool, or settle for something that doesn’t quite meet their needs with the expectation that the vendor will customize it for them or they’ll just be able to make it work. Ultimately though, neither of these represent effective routes to building a top-notch employee experience.
Begin with a needs assessment, ensuring that employees’ voices are deeply incorporated into the process from the outset. Armed with a list of what’s needed, arrange product demos with providers that appear to have relevant offerings, but don’t get caught up in their marketing pitches. Refer to your needs list frequently to stay on track. If a provider offers to customize something for you, triple confirm that they have the ability to actually do so, and what the timeframe will be for completing the work.
There are a multitude of sellers out there, so there’s no need to settle for less than what you want. Ensure that the tool you select not only meets your needs, but also conforms to your security requirements and fits within your budget. Present the final contenders to employee focus groups to assist in your final decision.
Implementation is a whole separate can of worms, but in the age of COVID-19, it’s more imperative than ever that your HR tech works in the way that you need it to. If you’re looking to help counter the negative aspects of remote working that we mentioned above, we hope you’ll give Workrowd a look. We help streamline your employee communications, provide added transparency and tracking for HR, and keep your workers connected whether they’re onsite or remote. Visit us at workrowd.com.