Q&A: Ensure that you are not disadvantaging your WFH employees

Inside HR interviews Jay Munro, Head of Career Insights at Indeed. In this exclusive Q&A, Jay speaks on what leaders and HR teams can do to ensure that they are not disadvantaging employees who are working remotely.

  1. What are some of the risks or watchouts with a hybrid workforce? I.e. some staff in the office and others at home 

There are a number of watchouts that HR departments and business leaders need to be aware of. Social isolation is a big one. While working at home, many employees will feel the absence of social interactions we’ve become accustomed to while working in the office, which could lead to disengagement or a negative effect on mental wellbeing. While some degree of socialness and connectivity can be achieved with online interactions, many of us will still miss the incidental interactions that happen we’re in the kitchen or in the corridors.

Another challenge of a hybrid workforce is it can be difficult to demonstrate productivity. When we work alone, we can lose track of the importance of each other’s (and our own) contributions, and this can impact employees who use recognition as their personal driver in the workplace or make it harder to identify those who are vying for, or deserving of a promotion.

Be conscious of quiet achievers. You may need to provide more professional development conversations and coaching to encourage dialogue and to highlight these individuals’ performance and achievements.

Accessibility can be a barrier to a functioning hybrid workforce, and needs to be a strong focus for all workplaces. How do organisations ensure they are accommodating the accessibility needs of all team members? Are the tools being used incorporating accessibility? What other barriers are contributing to a lack of access equality amongst employees?

Timeliness also needs to be considered. With hybrid workforces, we need to reset expectations around response times and availabilities. We need to be more forgiving of delays or the non-immediacy in responses from colleagues.

  1. How can HR teams and business leaders ensure all employees are involved in the decision-making process when the team is spread across multiple locations? 

Communication is key. Being aware of and using the various tools available to the business to improve communication is the first step. It’s also important to review how team members currently communicate amongst themselves before making any drastic changes.

Set expectations or ‘SLAs” of response times, with an awareness that this will vary amongst team members. Start using collaborative tools, such as online/cloud-based document solutions that allow multi-user editing and commenting.

While working at home, many employees will feel the absence of social interactions we’ve become accustomed to while working in the office, which could lead to disengagement or a negative effect on mental wellbeing.

Be timely in introducing initiatives or activities that require contribution to decision-making. Be aware that employees may have altered schedules or availabilities and provide enough lead-time to reduce stress and pressure, whilst potentially improving quality of contributions.

  1. How can HR teams and business leaders ensure performance and pay reviews aren’t biased against employees working remotely?

Create uniform processes for one-on-ones and performance reviews for both office-based and remote workers. Use templates for these if possible. By setting processes, and repeating them each time, you can start to introduce new and expected behaviours over time, rather than being ad-hoc and creating uncertainty.

Be conscious of quiet achievers. You may need to provide more professional development conversations and coaching to encourage dialogue and to highlight these individuals’ performance and achievements.

Introduce mentor programs – this can provide an opportunity to not only contribute to an employees’ success and development, but offers an additional way to seek feedback on performance and potential of the mentees.

Introduce 360-degree reviews or feedback collection, while making sure there are transparent processes and definitions of what constructive feedback is. This will offer a more rounded view of an employee’s performance and potential.

Communication is key. Being aware of and using the various tools available to the business to improve communication is the first step.

  1. What can organisations do to maintain a strong sense of camaraderie and collaboration when the team is no longer in a single location?

A first step is always asking employees for their thoughts and input. Gauge the desires and needs of all individuals and teams before seeking or determining solutions. This will help to ensure time, money, and productivity is not wasted on ineffective or underutilised solutions.

Investigate what other companies are doing and incorporate those into your business and processes. Keep up to date with new technologies and insights into hybrid working and workplaces. Follow best practices and regularly review the solutions you’ve implemented.