We invite you to discuss the extremely urgent topic for all the HR specialists: team work in "remote mode" which became particularly relevant during the pandemic. Year 2020 was difficult for all members of the business community — someone lost a job but someone lost a business. Many international companies, outwardly stable, are no exception — Debenhams, Virgin Australia, Flybe, and others. More flexible and resourceful organizations were able to keep the business in an uncertain market, adapting to the new "rules of the game", changing habitual foundations, and transforming the traditional processes to the online.
In the context of the new reality and the new rules, corporate HR Departments faced a burning question — "How to transfer employees to remote work format, without losing the effectiveness of their work?". Each step had to be thought out, from organizing jobs at home to psychological support.
The psychological factor has become a big problem for HR. People have completely broken the usual rhythm of life. They have become reclusive in their own homes. For the majority of employees, the new work format was incomprehensible and unusual. They were required to demonstrate even more self-organization and self-control than before. Uncertainty exacerbated the situation, there was a fear of losing a job, and this was followed by depression. The solution to this problem for many companies became a proper organization of communications.
The following tools have appeared in the arsenal of large organizations for maintaining communication with employees in a remote format:
Official weekly online meetings. These include both individual calls and joint online conferences. During the meeting they discussed the current tasks of employees and departments, intermediate results and were given a feedback on the results of the work. These tools helped to structure and adapt work processes in new realities, to maintain the team spirit, and working tone of employees.
Timely information about the current situation in the company from the first person in the format of official letters. In these letters the most important important and actual topics should be reflected — the direction of company's development during the pandemic, objectives and tasks of crisis management in the short-term and long-term period, the planned changes and reforms. It is necessary not only to inform employees about the upcoming changes in the company but also to strengthen their team spirit, to tell how important they are to the company in such a difficult period that only through joint efforts the company can survive the current situation, and even become better. This approach to informing employees reduces the percentage of uncertainty, the likelihood of gossip, the cultivation of negativity, increases employee loyalty, and the authority of the manager and the company as a whole.
Conducting online trainings and webinars. When working remotely, don't forget about employee development. Often, in the course of an offline work mode education and training were often «put into cold storage». Training was often shortened, because there were always important and urgent tasks that required immediate attention. During the pandemic, most people had a lot of free time that the employer could use for creative purposes, investing it to the development of employees. In the world there are many methods and platforms for online-learning. Some companies provide for their employees access to third-party online learning platforms, others organize interactive online-training, and others — record thematic webinars on their own. Many large organizations use third-party companies to develop employee skills.
Informal meetings. During the pandemic not only a job, but also leisure transferred to the online format. In the new reality, online corporate parties, interactive games, joint yoga, and sports are gaining popularity among progressive youth. These activities help maintain team spirit and physical fitness in a relative balance.
Help for those who have lost their jobs. If, in the course of the reformation, the company is forced to resort to job cuts, it is important to give employees the opportunity to find another job. This can manifest itself in assistance in the preparation and placement of a resume, advice, recommendations from the head, and other areas.
The leading multi-format retailer in the Russian market — X5 Retail Group — has provided a temporary employment to employees from clothes trade industry clothes concluding with them term contracts.
Online‐platform. implementation experience from leading companies on the russian market
I want to specifically highlight online-platforms. In the remote work mode, they are used in almost all work processes — to control working time, communication, file exchange, training, and other processes.
Some companies used the most aggressive control method — special software that records the actions of a remote worker. With the help of applications, the company knew whether the employee was working for a specified time, which sites he visited, what exactly he was doing at a given time.
Conventional office software suite remained the source of communications between employees: Outlook, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, but they started to actively use social networks: WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, Discord, and Slack. For file sharing the following services were used: Google Drive, Box, Dropbox.
Employment statistics for telecommuting
In general, people who used to work remotely often cannot imagine another format of the work. According to the poll conducted by the Webinar Group online-platform in the Russian market, more than half of employees of small businesses said they would prefer a reduction of wages to return to the office. International practice shows that remote workers are more productive.
For example, the largest Chinese travel agency, Ctrip, conducted a study that showed that employees' work efficiency increased by 13% after they switched to a remote format. Extension of a working day, a smaller number of breaks and sick leaves, as well as more quiet and comfortable working environment was mentioned as key reasons.