Making remote work…work

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The pandemic caused a major change to all aspects of everyday life, including how we work. While the shock and immediacy of determining how people will work from home have subsided, many companies have determined that post-pandemic, their workforce will, in large part, remain remote.

 

Many companies and their workers have successfully navigated this past year and wish to continue down a path of greater flexibility in how and where people work. A survey of businesses conducted in April 2020 found that before the pandemic, 76% of companies had less than 10% of their full-time employees working from home at least three days per week. Now, 83% of companies expect that after the pandemic, full-time employees will continue working from home at least three days per week.

“I think that in a recovering world, we will see a hybrid approach,” Kate Duchene, CEO of Resources Global Professionals, recently said during a keynote panel at SIA’s Executive Forum North America. “There will be a lot of flexible, fluid working.”

But what about contractors, independent consultants, project-based workers, and freelancers? The contingent workforce is expected to exceed 40 percent of the entire U.S. workforce in the next year, and it is anticipated to grow from there. How companies respond to working remote post-pandemic for their entire workforce is critical.

A few key considerations:

Updated policies and procedures

A formal remote work policy is a necessity at this point, and this should include detailed information that pertains to contingent workers. This should outline expectations, work hours, emergency backup plans, cultural expectations, what is expected of them, how their work will be measured and what support is available to them.

Your remote work policy doesn’t need to replace your existing policies and procedures but can be used to supplement them for future hiring.

Productivity

One item that needs considerable detail and thought is how you will measure productivity. You can add business-specific measures like customer satisfaction level, incremental revenue, or increase in website traffic, depending on the position. You can define specific KPIs for each role.

Next, assign specific, measurable milestones for each. This will allow you to easily track remote performance, and the transparency will build trust with your entire workforce and help them prioritize their projects.

There are project management options like Trello or Asana that can help manage projects, assign tasks, and track deliverables so all team members can see progress and milestones.

Security

Security concerns over VPN access, using public Wifi and corporate equipment being sent to contingent workers have been shared by many companies this year. To address this, consider adding contract-specific language for staffing suppliers that relates to liability.

Specifically, you’ll want to address multi-factor authentication requirements, file-level encryption, antivirus/malware prevention software, identity and access management controls that meet your company’s security requirements, and encryption on all remote connections.

Leadership training for hiring managers

Many leaders have never managed remote teams, and there are certain leadership skills that are required for remote leadership, regardless of how their teams are hired. Being able to proactively communicate, offer empathy, teach resilience, and promote a company’s culture for their remote team members is essential.

Consider specific leadership development and training for all hiring managers, especially those who manage both full-time and contingent labor collectively.

Support/Training and development

Supporting remote workers is a critical part of their success. If there are programs or events held and available for onsite resources, consideration needs to be given for how remote workers can access them. Webinars, Zoom meetings, and the ability to dial into conferences, team meetings, and organization-wide events allow remote workers to receive support and feel included during their employment.

Similarly, many companies are finding success delivering remote training and development via virtual training platforms like GoToTraining, BigBlueButton, and Larksuite that are feature-rich and are tailored to running training, including virtual assessments and breakout classrooms for group work.

All of the above can help organizations provide an inclusive environment in which all types of workers can be successful while working remotely. There are many cultural, human resource, and financial implications that impact contingent workers. The more you can prepare for this and be open to shifting the way you work as your workforce changes, the better positioned you will be as an employer.

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