Empowering a remote workforce: the essential tools every HR leader needs

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Whether your organization was prepared for fully disparate working or not, the pandemic has transformed business operations forever.

According to McKinsey, transformation efforts have been accelerated by several years and a new mindset has come into being among the workforce.

This new working environment has shown that remote working is possible and many employees are reveling in the new flexibility around balancing work and home life.

And, while this is a big win for employees, HR leaders are the ones to make it all happen seamlessly, investigating new codes of practice and training.

Adopting new technology to enable remote working is one thing, but policy changes, contract changes and everything in between has added new complexity for HR leaders who are in unchartered territory and working hard to ensure teams remain happy and content.

So how have they done it? In this blog we have spoken to HR leaders on the front line and looked at some of the essential tools that have kept remote teams flourishing.

The four tools you need to keep remote teams functioning at their best

  • Video tools to maintain that personal touch
  • Instant messaging services to make communication quick and easy
  • A solid HR management suite to boost productivity and save HR teams time
  • eSignature tools to make remote onboarding as simple as possible

Deploy video and collaboration tools

The boom of Zoom over the last 12 months is testament to the ready adoption of video tools. And, although Zoom fatigue is very real, video conferencing platforms have been a lifeline for businesses during the pandemic.

But it isn’t just the use video conferencing where video has been instrumental in enabling remote work. Forward-thinking HR leaders are using it to add a personal touch in the hiring process and to facilitate more rapid onboarding of new hires.

The impact of the pandemic will affect us long into the future, according to Barbie Winterbottom, an HR Leadership and Career Strategist with over 25 years’ experience in Human Resources who sees video calls – and their associated mishaps – as a source of strength for businesses.

“It’s normal to be on a call, hear a kid in the background, and have your employee say ‘I’ll be right back, my kid needs help’. It’s not taboo to be human. Smart HR teams are tapping into that and normalizing being, well, human.”

Collaboration platforms have helped organizations bridge the physical gap between employees by giving them a digital shared space to come together and work.

HR leaders have capitalized on this by creating centralized and readily accessible information hubs to help accelerate workflows while making it easy to onboard new members and manage typical FAQs.

“It’s a one-stop shop for disparate, distant functions,” says Barbie. “Integration, bring everything together, all in one platform – that’s the beauty of collaboration.”

Leverage instant messaging tools

If you aren’t already using instant messaging, then you’re behind the times.

According to research conducted by Mio, a Texas-based startup selling software to enable communication between messaging tools, 91% of businesses use at least two messaging apps.

Slack and Microsoft Teams accounted for over 60% of those organizations as companies look to accelerate collaboration and drive productivity.

HR leaders are benefitting from the capacity to keep teams engaged and enjoying the simplicity with which they can communicate with teams, individuals, and the wider business quickly.

The deployment of IM tools can help reduce the feeling of isolation that remote working can conjure up in some people too.

The top five workplace communication apps

  • Slack (65%)
  • Skype for Business (61%)
  • Microsoft Teams (59%)
  • Cisco Webex Teams (50%)
  • Cisco Jabber (32%)

(Source: https://dispatch.m.io/mio-workplace-messaging-report/)

Take contracts and document flows digitally with eSignatures

When the pandemic struck and teams were dispersed, HR teams were scrambling to update policy, change contracts, amend handbooks, and alter guidelines to ensure the business continued to operate as normal as possible.

Physical document workflows and paper contracts are simply not conducive to the type of rapid change seen thanks to COVID-19. Why? They’re just too slow and disjointed – and customers now want something better.

According to Lisa DiVirgilio, Head of Marketing at HR platform KinHR,

“We’re of the opinion that someone should be able to get through an entire workflow within one experience. The moment you break experience is the moment your customer gets confused.”

That’s why HR professionals are now seeing the real value of eSignatures.

Digital contracts can be distributed in bulk, signed faster, returned quicker, and make it easy for employees, customers, suppliers and contractors to get to work. eSignature tools also streamline the hiring process – saving potentially hundreds of hours of work for HR teams.

Update your HR management suite

How can you be confident in a remote working environment that policies are followed? How can you be certain employees are representing the brand as they should be?

“The key to success is to listen to your employees,” says Ben Whitter, Founder of HEX Organization and Author of Employee Experience. “Focus on their wants and needs, and give them the tools to be successful.”

Luckily for HR teams, HR tools are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and offer compelling propositions to improve oversight and enhance performance.

The best on offer also integrate with all your other systems and help you centralize important information as well as streamline things like vacation requests, pay-slip data, and management performance reviews.

As Ben Whitter concludes,

“It’s all about co-creation. If you give your employees – including HR teams – the autonomy and the tools they need to best do their jobs, you’re sure to see the results.”

HelloSign’s Top HR Tips

  • Work smart, not hard: Employing the latest tech makes getting work done easy
  • Think human-first: Use tech to boost workplace culture, too, and make communication easy
  • HR can’t do it all alone: Well-integrated self-service tools are a great way to reduce the HR workload

Still adapting to the pandemic?

Download our latest ebook, 7 essential HR tools for remote work, to find out how you can leverage the latest technology to build a more effective and HR operation centered around the employee experience.

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