As the world begins to settle into the reality of working from home as a long-term strategy, organizations must take the time to think ahead. When the pandemic hit, the world of remote work, which had been steadily gaining more and more attention, was fast-tracked into the right-now. There was (and in many cases, still is) a lot of maneuvering to make this new reality function properly.
Organizations had to grapple with new forms of communication, management, leadership, and company culture. Not to mention a load of new compliance regulations and resources that required some serious attention. But as time has passed, organizations have *begun* to find their stride, identifying new strategies, tools, and solutions to help them navigate this new world.
And as was predicted before the pandemic hit, organizations are starting to see remote work positions as viable options they can offer moving forward. While all the maneuvering and finagling to immediately make remote work happen will continue to serve organizations in the future, it doesn’t necessarily account for all that needs to be considered in the long term.
Here are three things to keep in mind for offering remote work indefinitely.
1. Where is your talent?
While your company may have historically stayed to the talent found locally, it may no longer be a smart requirement. Consider expanding the radius where applicants may be based. While working in different time zones can require some adjustments to how you communicate, it isn’t that hard to make the shift. Just be aware of the of needs within that role and determine how you’ll be able to meet those needs. For example, if checking in with a manager on a day-to-day basis is part of the role, being in a time zone close enough to allow for availability overlap may be a requirement.
The wonderful thing about expanding the radius of the talent pool is the exponential depth of field your hiring managers get to play within. This expansion affords you the flexibility to become more selective in your hiring, while potentially creating opportunities to connect with applicants of more diverse backgrounds, skillsets, and experience.
2. Re-evaluate organizational policies
Remote workers tend to have different needs than on-site employees. Take the time to re-evaluate what you’re offering employees and define what applies to those working remotely and those working locally. Here are examples of some policies you’ll want to consider:
- On-site, or local perks such as gym memberships.
- Remote working options often work well with flex time, while on-site work tends to lean away from this.
- Hours tracking. How do you track time? Is it project-based, by the hour, or both?
- Work-life balance policies addressing overtime.
- Data and project tracking information. Is this available to remote workers?
If you’re choosing to offer remote working positions indefinitely, go through each of your practices with a fine-tooth comb. Identify what is and isn’t applicable and adjust as necessary. Not doing so will often leave your remote workers getting the short end of the stick, struggling to get their needs met.
3. Who’s remote? How do you support them?
Whether or not you’re offering remote work into the future, if you are doing so now, then be aware of the different circumstances of your employees. Do you have young parents whose children are home from school? Do you have students who might not have access to a private space? What are the resources available to your remote workforce, and how are you meeting their needs?
Do your research. Consider creating a company-wide survey asking about the challenges your remote employees are facing. Identify trends and find ways to help your employees overcome those challenges.
If you’re hiring for remote working positions for the future, identify your ideal candidate. What requirements do they need to fulfill the position? What are the ways you can support them in their remote role? Determine what all you need and communicate it to your candidates so they can make the most informed decision about whether or not they’ll be a good fit for your remote role.
As we continue to grow and change along with the changing demands of the economy and safety guidelines, businesses must keep a close eye on the inner workings of their organization. Just because you evaluated the challenges your newly-remote employees were facing at the beginning of the pandemic doesn’t mean you can afford to look away for more than a few months.
Needs change. New challenges arise. It’s up to leaders to keep a continual dialog going with employees to be aware of situations as they change and develop (not after they’ve been festering and growing). Keeping up this dialog will help you steadily improve your processes. Be proactive about it and offer space for employees to reach out with their needs. The better the communication is, the more successful everyone will be.
Photo by Michael Simons
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