One of the most impactful changes that HR professionals must navigate in the 21st-century workplace is the rise of remote workers. This new way of working requires not only a mindset shift, but new tools and processes for recruitment, retention, and employee success.
According to a recent study, nearly 70 percent of employees work outside the office at least one day a week. The 2018 Global State of Remote Work found that employees that worked remotely at least once a month were 24 percent happier than traditional employees. The same study found that companies with remote options had 25 percent less turnover. While employees like flexible work options and employers can enjoy huge cost savings, for remote work to flourish a company must have the right tools in place.
In the last several years common communication and collaboration technology burst on the scene, providing the needed infrastructure to make distributed teams a serious option for any company.
Starting at the recruiting process itself, software like Lever Talent Suite allows HR professionals to manage the full talent lifecycle from sourcing and nurturing, to interviewing, hiring, and measuring seamlessly. The tool makes it possible to not only recruit remote talent but also have an HR team that can work virtually as well.
In the past, first-generation tools like free conference calling were hit or miss when it came to quality and reliability. Today’s software is light years ahead and the top communication and collaboration tools are user-friendly, often free or low cost, consumer-based applications that make successful remote work possible.
As anyone in corporate America knows, meetings are never-ending. Thanks to video programs like Zoom, virtual meetings can be just as good as in-person meetings. Using video allows people to put a face to a name and to see the non-verbal communication cues that are central to conveying meaning and intent. Zoom allows participants to share and annotate screens during any meeting and has recording capabilities to save the meeting for those who weren’t able to attend or for future reference. Video meetings are also great for HR to conduct prospective employee interviews.
Daily interaction between co-workers is key to productivity, building culture, and employee work satisfaction. Using a chat program like popular Slack makes interactions quick and easy. Chats are more productive than email to allow team members to talk about and collaborate on projects. Answers come quicker and conversation flows more naturally than it does on email. These chat programs also interface with other software like Google Drive to make sharing documents and link a snap. Employees can communicate one-on-one or create chat channels for an entire team or project.
The ability to share information and work on projects as a team is integral to any business. Tools like Google Drive make document sharing across distributed teams easy. Cloud-based Google Drive lets multiple workers access the same information from any device and make edits and comments. New versions are saved automatically, and older versions are always accessible. The built-in security features of Google Drive ensure important and confidential information is safe in the Cloud.
The tools that facilitate communication and collaboration virtually are very intuitive and easy for employees to learn. Many of the most popular software programs offer free video training that employees can do on their own to get up to speed quickly and cost-effectively.
By helping employers select and use communication and collaboration technology, Human Resources professionals can help create an environment where distributed teams can thrive, opening up a whole new pool of prospective employees and creating a flexible culture that attracts top talent.