Article, Employee Self Service

Remote working: Bringing the human back into Human Resources

Remote working

The last year has seen organisations across the board rapidly switch to remote working. Although this mass migration went reasonably well, there were a few pitfalls that business leaders had to take into account. After all, the implementation of remote working across an entire organisation is more complicated and in-depth than most of us realise. To be successful in the long term, a supportive, structured and human-centric approach is required.

Many tech-based companies have already begun scaling up before the pandemic struck and would have found it easy to switch from an office environment to remote working. For forward-thinking companies, working remotely could already have been the long-term plan, so those who were tech-driven and people-centric would have sat with their staff and asked them what they wanted, and how they saw their roles and working situation moving forward.

PaySpace did exactly this, and what emerged from those conversations was that a staggering 98% of employees said they would prefer to remain working remotely with the ability to have engagements when required with their teams, and still be able to touch base and connect with their colleagues on a social level too.

Remote working sees an increase in productivity

Human interaction turned out to be imperative for our colleagues, regardless of their individual circumstances. Many companies, including PaySpace, saw an increase in performance and productivity during the initial lockdown because our teams could sit down and focus on their work.

There was no traffic congested commute to contend with, giving our colleagues the opportunity to focus their energy on things that mattered. Instead of feeling stuck between work and life, where both contend for attention and time, remote working allowed work and life to co-exist. PaySpace colleagues could now manage their personal and professional priorities outside the restrictions of an eight to five office environment.

In the wake of the pandemic, those who planned on carrying on with the ‘new normal’ gave staff members the option of working from home and downscaled their offices. Their offices now serve as a central meeting point to maintain the sense of community, coming together, and connecting with colleagues.

Maintaining a company culture

Many organisations hold their company culture in high regard, and maintaining a healthy ethos is critical in remote working situations. It is vital to continue collaboration and social activities too, as this time nurtures the culture of the business. With Covid-19, many companies found it a challenge to keep that culture alive while maintaining a healthy team dynamic and camaraderie.

There are, however, many ways to address this challenge. You could encourage safe and protocol followed team meetings, irrespective of where they are held. You can also implement a ‘cameras on’ policy to ensure employees maintain contact with the people they’re dealing with. Being able to connect – to read body language, to see a smile – is very important.

It is also a good idea to encourage your colleagues to take 10 minutes a day and have a virtual chat over a coffee with someone in their team, as this is something people would often do in a normal office environment. It is all about bringing the ‘human’ back into the relationship while adapting to a remote environment, maintaining a presence, making an impact, and showing that you care.

Re-evaluating HR and payroll

In terms of HR and payroll specifically, companies need to adapt the way they interact with employees to maintain a strong culture and still foster a personal connection. And payroll, for all organisations, would need to adapt to using a cloud solution. With cloud applications you can carry out payroll tasks from anywhere, and in a remote working world it has become the norm. Cloud technology has opened up a world of possibilities.

The pandemic drove many organisations to adapt and look at new ways of managing HR. Most companies cater for the traditional way of work with, for example, various types of leave. Organisations need to realise that remote working doesn’t necessarily mean working from eight to five every day. Employees now have family around them and children home from school, so trying to do a full day’s work while managing a household presents a huge risk of burnout.

A good idea is to offer adjusted performance metrics. Instead of working on a set ‘hours per day’ basis, work on objectives, results and deliverables. In this way, your colleagues can balance work and life and still achieve what they need to. In addition, if you’re giving employees the freedom to deliver outcomes, you need to give them the freedom to work when they want to, too. If they deliver on their outcomes, it shouldn’t matter if they take time off.

There’s no question that Covid-19 hit the world with a vengeance. The silver lining for organisations that already had ‘future proofing’ on their minds and planned to change to remote working in the future, is that they realised the value of remote working early on. The key is maintaining a people-centric environment along with a high-performing culture. Making sure employees are still treated as individuals will aid their wellbeing and will also help to maintain a healthy work/life balance.

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