Working Remote… A HR Perspective

In my role as Vibe Associate, people are core to everything I do, including how they work. We’ve always had people working remote at Insentra; perhaps they work entirely remotely, schedule a WFH day once a week, or as a once-off to work around some life events. With the current situation unfolding with COVID19, and the rapid push towards working remotely, I started thinking about what HR teams and individuals can do to support these changes.

Top 5 Tips Every HR Professional Should Know

1. Remote Readiness

What happens when the recommendation is to work from home? That’s where your Business Continuity Plan comes into play. Examining your technical resources to ensure you’re enabled is a must so you’re ready to go remote, keep your productivity high, keep your company IP and data secure, and make the transition as smooth as possible. Team up with your IT department to go through this questionnaire to identify your needs here. Even if you’re not the person implementing it, being across the Continuity Plan helps you strategically solve problems before they arise.

Once you’ve got the capabilities sorted, you need to ensure that there’s the right support for your employees to make that transition to working remotely.

2. Training and Development

Before employees work from home, we better make sure they know how to use the tools and resources! Depending on your Business Continuity solution, there might be changes in hardware, cloud solutions, software, perhaps operating system for employees. Maybe your teams are already using these systems on premises, but not fully using the features which will be great for WFH. We’re no longer restricted to storing things locally, but do all your teams know how to access files they were working on in the office? Do they know how to share them with their colleagues quickly?  It’s a tough process to get your teams ready for working remotely. At Insentra, we are using Nulia Works to brush up on our Office 365 skills, and the best thing is, Nulia gets to work - using enablement tailored to the individuals learning style - on the skills they need right now, anywhere, anytime. It tracks a user’s behavior and suggests more efficient ways they could be using Office 365 to get the most out of what they do every day. At Insentra, we like to think we’re a pretty tech-savvy bunch, but Nulia has pushed us further- we found we had greater use of OneDrive and Microsoft Teams features… just in time for remote working!

3. Communication

Great culture comes about from people connecting. There’s no watercooler or coffee station between peoples remote working spaces… so how do we promote those positive interactions which form bonds?
Encourage managers to schedule time to talk to their teams either every day, or a couple times a week if it’s larger processes the team is working on. Talk about what they’re working on, what roadblocks are present, but most importantly- how they are. How’s working from home? The kids, dog, plants? Is the tech working for you? The small talk really matters! Include some personality and set the tone.

Make sure you show you haven’t forgotten them just because we can’t see them! Get managers to check in with their team members once a week individually as well. I recommend using video for these meetings to promote a sense of “right here”.

Are you encouraging your workforce to connect with others? Those social groups need to be fed, even when away from the office. Get your teams on Yammer, Slack, Teams, Skype, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp… whatever floats your company’s boat. We have a “Ministry of Silly Memes”, a “PMO Recipes” and a “Cat Chat” (dogs are welcome sometimes too). Interdepartmental and across levels is even better!

4. Have Fun

Those fun activities you’ve planned in the office CAN go on… with a few tweaks. This is a great way to demonstrate how life goes on; COVID-19 is temporary and will pass. Having some fun is important as employee’s anxieties around the situation begin to escalate and staying cooped up with limited adventures out of the home won’t help. Sure, some activities might not work remotely - your corporate sports might be off the table for the moment - but there are many activities, employee engagement initiatives and corporate social responsibility efforts that can happen remotely.

Earth Hour is coming up, and I’m pretty sure your office lights will already be turned off at that time. Why no encourage your crew to share pictures (via all those communication channels!) of how they do Earth Hour. Virtual drinks are another option; have a “pub chat” on a Friday after 4 and send the invite out for anyone to join virtually. The key to this being successful is everyone joining in virtually, not one remote worker tuning into a room of people having a chat. Perhaps virtual games or open-up to Q & A with members of the leadership to get participation.

5. Be Safe!

Workplace Health and Safety doesn’t stop when everyone stops coming into the office. We all want our workforce to be happy, productive and safe. Try creating a checklist, just like your WHS Inspection reports on-site, for employees to check off as they begin their set up. Make sure to include the basics, like ergonomics and hazards.

Working from home is just one good way to practice ‘Social Distancing’ but make it even easier for your employees to brush up on all their health and safety information by sharing some of the advice coming from the government.

Those are my top tips for starting the transition to working remotely from a Human Resources perspective. Harness the strengths you already see in the company to create and further your working remote plan.

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