The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped how corporations and small businesses handle remote and in-person employees. More than 60% of workers who have the option to go into an office choose to work from home now. Finding a healthy and sustainable balance between remote workers and in-person employees is essential. Companies that don’t actively work to maintain this balance risk losing out on hiring and keeping valuable employees.
Start with the Planning Process
Here’s a list of questions we’ve put together that employers can ask themselves during the planning process to help prevent friction between on-site and remote employees and promote a healthy and productive workplace.
- What employees will be affected by this decision?
- How will they be affected?
- What are their expectations around this issue?
- What result does company leadership expect?
- Do we need to consider any existing employment agreements?
- How will we implement and manage these changes?
When the pandemic hit, most workers believed they’d be returning to their offices within a few weeks after the outbreak settled. However, this didn’t play out as expected. A new challenge arose: company leaders quickly needed to adapt to operating in a completely new way while ensuring that jobs still get done with a remote workforce.
Creating a Feeling of Equity
It is critical that all employees — whether they work remotely or in person — feel like they have equal access to resources and opportunities that could lead to career advancement. There are several you can incorporate equity into your company culture.
Here are just a few of the ways:
- Compare resources: Make sure the same resources are available to both remote and in-person employees.
- Ensure new hires feel like part of your team: To help new hires feel welcome from the start, you can introduce them to a mentor to answer any questions and provide written documentation for everything that pertains to their role. The written documentation could include a list of everyone else who is on the team — as well as other company leaders. You should also introduce new hires to everyone on their team as soon as possible. Managers can help set up virtual meetings so team members can get to know each other.
- Provide recordings and transcripts of relevant meetings and conversations: Ensuring those unable to attend important meetings in real time still have access to them will create an atmosphere of equity and can encourage more collaboration.
- Make opportunities for collaboration possible. It’s important to allow remote and in-person employees to interact with one another despite not having everyone in one 8place. Provide the technology and training to allow for this.
- Obtain input and feedback from your whole team. During work-related meetings, give equal opportunity for employees to share their thoughts. Not all employees are very outspoken, so you’ll want to be sure you listen to the quiet voices too!
Rework Job Descriptions in Your Favor
Stop relying on cookie-cutter or preexisting job descriptions. One sure way to turn away viable candidates is by not giving an accurate description of the job or being vague and redundant in your listing. Employers should clearly document the redefined roles and responsibilities of a particular job description.
To help conceptualize a job description, you can ask yourself how you can ensure the job will get done if it’s done remotely. You’ll also want to confirm whether or not the position requires the employee to respond directly to customers during traditional hours. If there are particular hours a remote employee is required to be available for the role, you’ll want to make this clear in your description. Another option is to take measures to divide the job between two people in order to be certain that someone is always on call to do what is required when it is needed.
Leverage technology and focus on results
According to Gartner, less than 16% of companies use technology to monitor employee engagement and other beneficial data points. Yet, monitoring data points that pertain to employee satisfaction, such as feelings of connection, and productivity can provide insight into employee engagement. Some Human Capital Management platforms like Inova HCM offer tools like engagement surveys and sentiment analysis which can help measure some of these key data points.
The main caveat is that while you are using the data available, you’ll also need to ensure that all employee-related information is being used and stored properly and compliantly. In doing so, make sure that privacy concerns are addressed and respected.
Companies that proactively prioritize employee-focused policies and ensure procedures are in place tend to level the playing field between remote and in-person employees. As a result, these companies generally experience the benefits of higher employee satisfaction and retention.