What the world is doing right now is not REMOTE WORK, but work from home
COVID-19 pushed employees to work from home without any preparation and many were forced to believe that this is what remote work feels like. The sudden digitization, automation, and adoption of technology to work left many dizzy, sending them into an unproductive mode and leaving them with anxiety, work-related stress, or fatigue.
Although many businesses and teams have grasped the reality now and are doing better than before, the truth is that many HR leaders aren’t aware of what is remote work and how they can embrace it. For most of the HR managers and leaders, using technology and software to collaborate and communicate along with the strengthening of company culture is all that takes to be remote; but in reality, there is a whole lot of processes and mindset that is needed to work efficiently as a remote team.
As a remote work consultant with eight years of helping businesses transition and operate effectively as remote, I can confidently say that besides the people operations part, legal, HR tech, and employee psychology are the bigger and crucial elements that leaders should prioritize.
Not all employees can work from home or remotely without any additional support. Home environment, personal traits, and domestic responsibility are three of the top reasons that affect employee productivity and well being.
Investing in the right and validated psychometric test to understand and identify which employees can work from home or remotely with less help and which ones need some extra support is highly recommended.
There are many psychometric tests out in the market that can help you gauge this - but beware of these popular tests that can be invalidated. Look for the test that is validated by at least two psychological associations and was prepared with the help of a qualified occupational and organizational psychologist.
Tech implementation and automation
Knowing the right kind of software to use to address the unique challenges of a business is as important as any other step that a business would undertake to transition to a remote team.
Ever since the pandemic, I have been seeing HR leaders and managers adopt the most popular software or the ones they find easily due to their good marketing. After spending a considerable amount of resources on them, most employees find that: (1) this software is a little complicated to be used by everyone on the team, or (2) this software does not solve their challenges.
One of the biggest mistakes companies are making is copying the processes and technology stack of these famous remote companies without assessing their own needs and challenges. Digital transformation of how a business operates is a key ingredient while transitioning to remote and needs to be done in a tailored fashion.
Legal compliance and overhaul of employment policies and contracts of a remote team are required to remain on the right side of the law. Defining usage of tools and software, liability, cybersecurity breaches, how the company hires, etc. are important factors that should be added to the contracts and policies.
While hiring internationally, complying with local laws, GDPR (if hiring in the EU), International Labour Organization’s guidelines on work from home, digital and IT acts among others crucial.
It is also extremely important to check that all the hiring-related documents and processes match the status of the team member. More remote companies are currently misclassifying their independent contractors as employees, attracting the attention of the civil authorities and courts.
The remote or work from the home team can function effectively if they have the right set of equipment. Not providing optimum furniture or equipment for them to work from will result in workplace injury leading to lawsuits for the same.
One can not work eight hours a day from the bed or couch or from the dining table without breaking the back or the neck. Assessing the workplace of team members along with a medical check-up to determine their pain points is a better way to ensure employee well-being and productivity.