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How Human Resources is helping manage remote employees

December 11 2020 - The role of Human Resources (HR) has perhaps never been more important to companies than it is today. HR is commonly regarded as the management of the lifecycle of employees - everything from hiring to firing and all that lies between - and it is a service sector that is becoming increasingly valued in companies of all sizes.

Of course, in-house, locally-based HR presents its own set of challenges but as more and more businesses have ventured into operating in a global marketplace - and have started employing an equally global workforce - the HR practitioner's responsibilities and remit have widened considerably. In the days of the worldwide corporation, HR is considered an essential cog in the smooth day-to-day running of most larger organizations.

As businesses have gone global, so has HR

With the considerable opportunities presented by the internet to reach a global marketplace, it's becoming increasingly common for companies to look at establishing a presence overseas. Through a combination of website localization and global SEO, it's now easier than ever for companies to present the impression of being a worldwide entity by having multiple websites in different languages. Operating globally requires hiring staff that can either speak the relevant language or - more commonly - that are located in overseas territories, resulting in HR experts having to provide support to employees internationally.

The additional challenges presented by Coronavirus

The recent emergence of Coronavirus served to highlight yet further just how much companies have come to rely on their HR staff. As lockdowns and distancing forced remote-working, the health, happiness and welfare of employees became of critical importance and presented entirely new difficulties.

While most staff reported enjoying the better work/life balance afforded from home-working, many also complained of feelings of loneliness, isolation or a lack of support. In turn, HR departments have had to step up to provide an invaluable link between managers and staff.

Key tasks HR can do to help remote workers

Whether your firm has been employing remotely for years or has only just recently started as a result of the virus, there are multiple ways HR can help homeworkers.

Being aware of the mental health of employees: By liaising regularly with staff, HR can use direct conversations and indirect observations to assess the general well-being of employees working remotely. Arranging regular check-ins with workers via the most common video conferencing platforms lets an HR team stay on top of general employee health.

Making sure employees have all the relevant tools they need: In the traditional office environment, employees have direct access to everything they need (e.g. printers, computers, files, etc.). HR should ensure remote workers also have the tools they need to work from home - everything from a sufficiently powerful laptop/PC to a reliable internet connection and webcam for video conferencing.

Instilling trust in employees: One of the biggest complaints from those new to working from home was missing being able to consult with managers, face to face. While this type of nurturing and support isn't feasible in a remote-working set-up, HR teams can go a long way to building trust in employees and instilling feelings of confidence in their own abilities.

Promoting dialogue: By its nature, a remote-working environment does not have the same opportunities for dialogue and communication as team-working in an office however that doesn't mean it needs to be devoid of interaction. By scheduling regular video chats between employees, managers and bosses, an HR team can ensure adequate dialogue continues among staff, regardless of location.

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