How HR Can Support Remote Workers—And Improve Service for All
Est. Read Time: 3 min.
It’s no secret that remote work is the new norm. In the U.S., the number of telecommuters increased by 159% between 2005 and 2017, and by 2018, 70% of professionals around the world were working remotely at least once a week.
This isn’t just good for employees, making it easier for them to avoid lengthy commutes and achieve a healthy work-life balance. Businesses reap the benefits, too: companies that allow remote work experience 25% less turnover than those that don’t—and report higher productivity and lower overhead costs.
Yet despite employees pushing for remote work options and employers growing increasingly comfortable with offering them, there are potential downsides that companies must be ready to combat. For one thing, employees say that loneliness is the second biggest challenge of working remotely, with collaboration and communication coming in third. And when issues like this arise, 40% of remote workers say they never or almost never seek out the help of HR.
That presents a major problem for the HR team, which may struggle to keep remote employees satisfied and engaged—and have difficulty spotting when they’re not. But by leveraging the same technologies that have made remote work more accessible, HR can position itself as a go-to resource for these employees, empowering them to find help when they need it.
Here are just a few ways that HR can provide great service to all employees—even the ones who are miles away.
1. Provide an easy-to-access, personalized knowledgebase
With modern advances in cloud technology, there’s no reason why employees should have to be physically present to access vital HR resources, like your company’s medical leave policy or harassment complaint procedure. If a remote worker is forced to call, email, or come into the office to ask an HR rep for this information, there’s a strong chance that they won’t bother—which can leave them confused, dissatisfied, and disengaged.
To get around this issue, forward-thinking HR teams are adopting cloud-based HR service delivery platforms that put all the information an employee might need directly at their fingertips. By accessing a shared knowledgebase, remote workers can quickly type in a search or select the appropriate category, then scan related articles to find what they’re looking for.
What’s more, some platforms allow HR to create a personalized knowledgebase for each employee, showing them only the information that’s most relevant to them—like location- or contract-specific policies and procedures.
2. Offer multiple channels of communication and a high level of responsiveness
Using a cloud-based HR service delivery platform also makes it easier for employees to contact HR in the manner that they’re most comfortable with. This is especially important when they can’t find the information they’re looking for or have complex questions or concerns.
Through their knowledgebase, remote workers can contact HR at the push of a button. Their request can then be automatically routed to the appropriate person, allowing HR to respond as promptly as possible. This can help HR ensure that it’s providing the same level of service and support to remote workers as it is to the employees who can walk right into their HR rep’s office. Remote employees won’t feel like their emails are being sent into a black hole, and time-sensitive issues can be dealt with swiftly.
Of course, opening up multiple channels of communication is not just useful for remote staff. Some on-site employees may feel more at ease submitting questions through the knowledgebase than asking them face to face, so everybody can benefit from having this option.
3. Pay attention to virtual body language
To keep a pulse on how remote employees are feeling, HR will have to become increasingly adept at monitoring virtual body language over the coming years. This refers to the behavior that remote employees display—or in some case, don’t display—across a range of different communication channels, from video calls to emails to instant messages.
For example, an employee who responds with one-word answers, or who often has long gaps in their communication, may be feeling disengaged in their work. Picking up on this quickly and responding appropriately—like scheduling a check-in call to see how the employee is doing—can help HR address issues before they spiral out of control.
Modern HR for a modern workforce
The nature of work is evolving, and HR must evolve with it or risk becoming obsolete. Adopting new tools to keep pace with the changing needs of the workforce will be an essential strategy if businesses want to retain their best employees and support them to do their very best work.
Learn how an HR Service Delivery platform can empower your remote workforce. Take a virtual product tour.
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About Laura Zifchak (Poggi)
Laura leads the marketing team for the PeopleDoc by Ultimate Software products in North America. She joined PeopleDoc in January 2015 to help HR teams learn about HR Service Delivery technology, understand how it benefits their existing business strategies, and become expert users of our platform as customers.
Laura has experience with bringing technical software solutions to market with prior leadership positions at both IBM and RTTS. She has an MBA from CUNY Baruch Zicklin School of Business, and a BS degree in Marketing from Siena College.
With years of practice managing teams through rapid growth and constant change, Laura is passionate about employee and manager experience, and using technology to help scale and improve operations.