The Remote Workforce: Things to Know Before Moving into a Virtual Organization Structure
I recently had the privilege of doing a webinar for Ascentis, “Not Seen but Not Forgotten: The Shift to Remote Workers and the Virtual Organization.” I was overwhelmed with the attendance and response given by the HR audience.
We know and understand the war for talent, seemingly the “never-ending war,” but some companies are changing their tactics and moving the front lines closer to the workforce with great success.
There are a number of considerations around moving from the traditional workforce, “in the office” model, to creating a culture of hiring, managing and retaining a more remote workforce.
Our current environment is having an impact on companies’ ability to find the right talent:
- Metropolitan business centers are expensive to live in or near
- 83% of Millennials are choosing to live in suburbia
- Transportation costs and time traveling to work are increasing
- Evolving needs of the new generation of workers
- Global skills “banks” are becoming commonplace, with great success
- Rising importance of work/life balance
- Contingent workforce grows
- Technology providing mobility with cohesion
It’s critical for companies to understand that some of their current practices, culture and policies are a hindrance to getting the best talent to move the business forward. In our webinar poll, we found that almost 60% of the audience had components of the workforce working remotely and another 20% were considering it this year. And a recent survey of employees showed that more than 90% prefer the remote work environment because of family, personal preference of freedom, or their job required it.
The considerations to move to a virtual organization range across a wide spectrum, impacting most aspects of the company, so this move is not just an HR objective, but an enterprise-wide endeavor.
Some of the more “trendy” practices in normal and virtual workforce approaches include:
- Analyzing and recommending job descriptions that can support a virtual workforce where appropriate (not all jobs can be remote, but internal facing ones are prime for consideration)
- Using text chats, video postings of jobs (very compelling) and posting jobs where your talent might congregate (gaming apps, coffee shops, gyms and gas pumps)?
- Understanding the behaviors of a candidate or internal employee to ensure working productively in a remote environment is a key to satisfaction on both sides of the hiring equation
- Although most age groups show higher productivity working remotely, the most adaptive is age group 25-34
- Seeking out remote worker profiles that include behaviors around independent self-starting, communication, presenting and documenting
- Changing onboarding processes for a new hire or change of duties for a current employee to be strongly suited to provide information and support to the virtual worker
- Knowing that CULTURE will change, simply because the productivity of the workforce will need to be monitored differently and more frequent and consistent communication will be needed
- Challenging management to keep their teams working cohesively, ensuring more collaboration
- Relying on HR professionals to reset the mindsets and frameworks with management on how to truly manage the virtual workforce – the adage “If I can see you, you must be working” no longer applies
There are many tools available to bring remote staff together, but how they are used, the policies/expectations in communication and managerial oversight to ensure inclusion of all participants are the keys to make these tools meaningful. Moving to the virtual structure and a remote workforce is not an impossible task, but it takes analysis, efforts, culture change and new metrics to be an effective step into the future.
About the Author
Nov Omana has over 35 years in the HR Technology arena and is founder of Collective HR Solutions, Inc., which provides HR technology, human resources programs, and business consulting, using innovative technology. Nov assists companies in structuring their HR technology strategy and systems and is known for his thought leadership and understanding of combining and leveraging technology. He has a strong knowledge of the vendor community surrounding HR technology along with a reputation for “connecting the dots” between technologies to create new solutions and solve business problems.
Nov is a frequent keynote presenter, moderator, or contributor for HR associations’ presentations, conferences and webinars and is often sought by media for opinions on the industry in general and for insight on technology trends. He holds the positions of Chairman of the Technology Review Council, Board member on several HR related organizations, Business Partner of MapHR.com and Advisory member of DISRUPTHR – San Francisco.
Follow him on Twitter: #HRTECHXPRT