Working from home has been hailed as the future of work for several years. However, some departments - including HR - need time to adjust to new processes, workflows and ways of collaboration to make remote work a success.
As an HR team, you have oversight of a lot of areas in your business, from recruiting and placing employees to ensuring that every team member can thrive in their role. That's a lot to optimize as your team goes remote.
You may need to rethink the way you interview and onboard new hires. The employees in your company might also need a helping hand to adjust to work outside an office: even high-performing employees can experience a decline in productivity and engagement. And for working parents with children at home, it's extra work to balance different responsibilities and schedules.
Here are some of the biggest challenges of remote work to watch out for as an HR team – and a checklist of how to deal with them and prepare your team for the best results along the way.
Five challenges of remote HR management
- Challenge 1: Teams aren't properly sharing information between them
- Challenge 2: Management is worried about productivity
- Challenge 3: Team members are feeling isolated or unmotivated
- Challenge 4: Your team is struggling to adopt the traits to thrive during WFH
- Challenge 5: Your business apps are outdated
Challenge 1: Teams aren't properly sharing information between them
If your team isn't used to working remotely, you might be surprised just how difficult it can be to obtain the information you need to do your job.
Some companies aren’t adequately prepared for sharing information and instead rely on manual processes like sending emails and attachments. While this might be sufficient for very small businesses, it’s hardly suitable when you reach the challenges of scale and have multiple people working on the same projects.
Limited access to information is a surefire recipe for data silos, while a lack of robust processes for exchanging information opens up security risks.
The solution: Cloud-based apps, integrations between apps, automated workflows and clear processes
To give your team the information they need to do their work effectively, focus on cloud-based business apps to increase collaboration and integration.
Real-time collaboration platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams help keep everyone connected no matter where they are.
Video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Skype help keep your team connected internally, while recruiters can use these to hold remote interviews with candidates.
Cloud-based hiring apps like Greenhouse allow your HR team to manage hiring pipelines and access all the data you need to work from anywhere.
Accounting apps make it simple to manage payroll in the cloud.
Once you have a great tech stack to support your HR team, connecting your apps and streamlining complex workflows are powerful ways to save more time and boost efficiency.
Challenge 2: Management is worried about productivity
Traditional business models have long depended on a degree of micromanagement and face-to-face supervision. Common concerns include employees not working as hard as they might do back in the office or succumbing to distractions they wouldn’t usually find in the workplace (hello, laundry, kids and pets.)
Given that remote work depends on connectivity and technology, there’s a whole new set of potential IT security risks too. In other cases, employees might feel that remote managers aren’t supportive enough because they’re not aware of their individual needs.
The solution: Training, support and understanding, as well as the right apps
There are two main ways that HR teams can tackle the productivity challenge: by emphasizing supervision or by enabling robust communication and collaboration.
The former can be addressed with solutions like time-tracking software, but unless you're an agency that depends on by-the-hour billing, it isn't likely to be well-received by your employees.
A better approach is to focus on remote collaboration, using apps like G Suite and project management software like Trello or Asana. This helps encourage employees to regularly check in and keep each other informed about their progress on projects or tasks.
No matter your strategy, it's essential to offer training and documentation on how to use your apps efficiently and work securely.
Challenge 3: Team members are feeling isolated or unmotivated
Recent years have seen a rapid rise in workforce mobility as companies and employees adopt the benefits of working from home. Yet there’s also a demographic that’s not getting the attention it deserves: those who actually prefer the familiar office environment.
Coworking spots have popped up everywhere over the past decade, with one of the main motivations being to avoid the social isolation of working from home. Some workers may also have a harder time focusing and being productive at home.
The solution: The right mix of technology, processes and 1-1 support
By providing several communication options within your business, it’s possible to be distant yet together. Slack is a great all-round tool, but video conferencing software is ideal for more complex or sensitive conversations, since visual cues help facilitate mutual knowledge as they do in a face-to-face meeting.
You can also look into software designed to improve employee satisfaction. Perkbox offers an all-in-one solution to engage your team, including perks and discounts, rewards and recognition, and even health and wellbeing support. Perkbox shares that optimizing employee experience leads to 2.3x revenue growth, 5x shareholder return and 10% increase in customer ratings.
Introduce a comprehensive system for remote management and 1-1 meetings between employees and their managers. 15Five is a fantastic continuous performance management system that simplifies, schedules and helps to automate weekly check-ins, 1-1s, "Best Self Reviews" and high fives to recognize performance.
Challenge 4: Your team is struggling to adopt the traits to thrive during WFH
For the introverts among us, working from home can be an innate preference and a welcome alternative to office life. For many extroverts, however, it’s often not so easy.
It takes a unique temperament and set of skills to successfully work from home, but there are ways your HR team can make remote work easier and help to mitigate the challenges your employees face.
The solution: Encouragement, understanding and emotional support
Focus on nurturing the right traits in your business and hiring for these, such as the ability to adapt, prioritize, communicate and stay organized in a new environment.
In addition, when you're supporting a remote workforce, it’s more important than ever to offer encouragement and emotional support. Make sure team members can easily reach out to you, and you can also set some time aside to check in with them on a regular basis.
However, remember that patience is key. Remote work can present significant challenges to employees and those who manage them. Sometimes we all just need a bit of time to adjust and someone who will listen.
Challenge 5: Your business apps are outdated
Is your HR team held back by the tools you're using? Transitioning to remote work is the ideal moment to rethink your tech stack and move more of your apps into the cloud.
The solution: Building a tech stack that's designed around remote collaboration
SaaS apps benefit every department of your business by enabling you to build an IT ecosystem that supports remote work at scale. As an HR team, here are a few ways to optimize your tech stack:
Cut the apps that aren't working for your business. What do your employees despise using or experience frequent problems with? What platforms can be replaced with more effective alternatives?
Sync data between your apps to save time on manual updates and increase data reliability.
Look for cloud-based alternatives to apps that run offline or on-premises.
Adopt apps specifically designed to boost HR performance, like Firstbird, to encourage employee referrals and attract more of the best talent.
Use Back to streamline employee requests on one platform instead of cluttering up your Slack and email inbox.
Remote work comes with its challenges, but the benefits of working from home are still significant for many companies. Working remotely empowers your HR team to tap into global talent for the widest hiring pipeline, while cutting the costs of keeping an office running and boosting employee satisfaction.
To thrive remotely, implement improvements gradually by rolling out cloud-based systems, integrations between them and automation to help prepare your organization.
To help improve how your apps work in the cloud, PieSync synchronizes data between more than 200 apps to empower your organization with greater efficiency and collaboration. Sign up for your free 14-day trial to get started.