As the world returns to a pre-pandemic “normal,” employees are expecting changes to where and how they do their jobs. Remote workforce software can help.
By Stacy Litteral, Managing Director, Advisory
In March 2020, life for most American workers changed drastically. Lockdowns designed to blunt the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus forced millions of people to stay home. In the ensuing weeks, companies big and small managed to find ways to keep employees working from home, despite some security and technological challenges. Now, after a reasonably successful vaccine rollout, companies are facing the possibility of bringing employees back into the office. Some companies are insisting that employees return to the office full-time. Others recognize that their staff appreciate their newfound flexibility and are instituting a remote work arrangement whereby workers might come into the office once or twice a week.
There are obvious challenges to a hybrid workforce, specifically for managers, from a workforce engagement perspective. One key issue is deciding what should be done in person and what work can be done remotely. Getting the balance right is critical to maximizing hybrid workforce engagement. Since there might be only a few days per month when the entire staff is in the office, managers must find the most effective use of this time.
To that end, here are three areas where in-person activities are almost always more productive than doing them virtually.
1. Team Planning
Virtually every company creates detailed plans as a means of accomplishing organizational goals. Planning is also essential for individual teams and might happen more frequently for new projects or if a crisis pops up. And while planning can technically be accomplished virtually over a Zoom call, being face-to-face with people has its benefits.
Brainstorming with a group in a room with a whiteboard could spark more creativity, offer better insights, or improve participation from those in attendance than what happens in a virtual environment. Furthermore, managers increasingly recognize that there is value in having frank discussions, which are far more effective when conducted in person. When meetings of this sort are held online, ensuring everyone can voice an opinion or even build consensus can be difficult. And these challenges grow the larger the group is. While remote workplace software options exist for these purposes, they may not be the most effective medium for these meetings.
2. Professional Relationship Management
Relationship management is vital for most companies and nonprofits. Meeting with representatives from consultants, vendors and client businesses can make a significant difference when working on deals. This is especially important for things like introductory or sales meetings.
Face-to-face meetings allow people to read the body language of those they are talking to. This could prevent misunderstandings or unintentional slights and can help build trust and a rapport with colleagues, clients and vendors. By comparison, this instant feedback might not be as easily interpreted — or even missed — over the phone or on a small video screen. Plus, any experienced business development professional will attest to the fact that it’s easier to network with people in person compared to a virtual experience. The upshot is that while not every single relationship-based conversation needs to be held in person, kick-off meetings, occasional status meetings and the like do tend to benefit from that personal touch.
3. Employee Training and Development
An entire cottage industry exists around offering online courses for companies on nearly every subject from identifying phishing schemes to preventing workplace harassment to recognizing signs of money laundering. Often, employees are required to take these courses to remain compliant with regulators. These types of courses are ideally suited for an individual to complete on their own. They are usually completed in an hour, though they might need to be administered annually.
However, there are many other types of training or developmental courses that benefit from an in-person experience. Onboarding is more effective in person for several reasons. New employees need to be shown physical locations of HR, IT or even the break room and shower stalls. Learning to operate equipment like photocopiers or document scanners might be more accessible, especially if errors are encountered. First Aid, CPR or safety training needs the oversight of an instructor to ensure techniques and approaches are correct in practice scenarios. And sexual harassment, implicit bias training and other workplace diversity and inclusion programs are by far more effective in a dynamic, interactive setting.
So, What Should Remain Virtual?
There are many reasons employees like remote work. They save time by avoiding a commute to the office, which allows for a better work-life balance. Many have found they are more productive at home. And, thanks to remote workforce software, it is easier than ever for supervisors to remain in contact with their staff. There can be continuous dialogue with workers with the right tool, regardless of where they are. Besides, when an employee is only in the office once or twice a week, that time is better spent working on projects than a weekly check-in meeting. Managers can use these tools to boost employee morale remotely or build up worker engagement.
We are living in a rapidly changing work environment. Two years ago, it would have been inconceivable for most companies to have so many employees work remotely. Now, a hybrid situation is something a significant portion of workers desire or are demanding. This can be a challenge for HR professionals and senior leaders, but a company that can increase its hybrid workforce engagement could see a real benefit to the bottom line.
Maximize Your Hybrid Workforce Engagement With BPM Link
Designed to boost employee morale remotely and support hybrid workforce engagement, BPM Link is a remote work performance management platform that easily supports nimble communication through guided conversations, facilitates an agile work environment and uncovers gaps between employee perceptions and realities of organizational objectives.
A simple to use, employee-driven platform, BPM Link aligns each employees’ work to the strategic direction of the organization regardless of where they choose to work from. To learn more about how BPM Link can solve your hybrid workforce engagement challenges, contact Stacy Litteral, Managing Director, today.