Managing people

How to manage a remote workforce with ease

Remote working is here to stay. Discover why and how HR software is critical to managing a remote workforce effectively.

Making remote working adjustments at pace was probably high up on your list of priorities in 2020.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, remote working was still new for most small businesses. The need to support business continuity now has moved remote working from ‘nice to have’ to ‘essential’.

You know supporting a remote workforce is a lot more involved than just sending everyone home with a laptop.

You need to replace your in-person processes with digital ones and find new solutions to manage your core people processes, while keeping your workforce engaged wherever they’re based.

Things need to be authentic, effective and seamless.

This is a lot to juggle for a small team, even more so for one person. But you need to get this right.

If your employees don’t feel connected, supported and appreciated, they’ll be less likely to stay with your business.

A cloud HR software solution will help you stay in control.

Using one will allow you to stay on top of everything you need to monitor to keep your workforce working productively, with you operating smoothly as their fearless leader.

Here, we break down the core people processes and how they translate in the remote world of work through digitalisation.

Here’s what this article covers:

Managing schedules for a remote workforce

Onboarding remote employees

Engaging employees with communication

Managing productivity within a remote workforce

Get regular feedback

HR technology for remote working

Digitalisation allows you to empower your staff with self-service tools to make tasks such as managing schedules easier.

Gone are the days where holiday forms were submitted, only for them to be rejected two weeks later because another member of the team got there beforehand.

Cloud HR software has built-in scheduling systems that are accessible from any internet-connected device.

Your employees can plan their availability in advance on their own time, and you have a bird’s-eye view of everyone’s availability to easily coordinate coverage.

You can also set controls to minimise your risk of ever being short-staffed.

For example, you can limit the number of requests for time off that your employees submit each day, or limit the number of times staff members can take off during peak seasons.

Onboarding used to mean in-person introductions and the signing of paper documents. But in today’s current climate, an alternative approach is required.

Digitalisation through HR software puts everything new hires need in one place. You can house org charts, welcome videos, and frequently asked questions (FAQs) there for new hires to access on-demand at their convenience.

The screening and interview process can integrate with onboarding so employee data can transfer from one phase to the next.

New hires can upload their own personal data, to reduce the risk of error, save you time from manually doing so yourself, and create a smooth and seamless onboarding experience.

Good communication is critical when managing a remote workforce.

HR software makes that easy with scheduled messaging via email and notifications directly from the software. With a cloud solution, your employees can stay up to date on important work information wherever they are.

You can personalise your communications as well, by location, employee type (permanent, contractor, etc) and anniversary date, for example.

This level of personalisation is important because in some ways it replaces in-person engagement, so it needs to feel sincere.

Part of your role as a people leader is to facilitate a productive work environment.

The implications here can range from making sure the physical office is conducive for work, to building a company culture that promotes your company values.

Automated data processing lightens the load for you and your workforce by streamlining the admin parts of people management.

Instead of pouring over sticky notes or emails to track employee absences, your employees can submit requests through a mobile app that’s much easier to manage.

Since you’re not in an in-person setting, you’ll need to be diligent about checking in with your workforce to gauge how they’re feeling about working for your company.

Continuous feedback and regular pulse surveys give you insights into how your people are doing. This enables you to constantly improve your processes, and respond to and improve experiences for your staff.

You can schedule these as frequently as you’d like (without being intrusive during the workday) and coordinate a communications plan to share next step actions.

Survey tools embedded in your HR software can help you to be a better people company, one that puts its people first for the best business outcome.

No matter what type of business you run, HR tech can help. And because it’s cloud-based, app-driven and no longer needs a frighteningly expensive IT project to get it off the ground, you can start straight away.

Don’t let the fear of having to learn the ins and outs of a new system slow you down. Instead, it’s helpful to start by exploring how, exactly, these new platforms and apps could help your business.

You’ll be giving yourself more bandwidth to manage all the moving parts involved with remote working, and giving your staff the work experience they need to stay happy working with the company.

But where to start?

HR tech has great potential to improve your employees’ lives so they are better placed to work to the best of their abilities and help your business succeed.

Starting with customer and employee experience is a great way to start to narrow down the type of technology you need.

Here are some questions to ask yourself.

On employees

  • How are their day-to-day working lives and career paths structured?
  • How do you communicate with them?
  • Do they need training and development?
  • Is there a particular part of the employee lifecycle where you need more support?

On technology

  • Do you just need some basic technology that shows you who’s on shift and how they’re getting paid, or do you need something more sophisticated that helps build a certain type of culture?

On processes and policies

  • Have your employees got access to everything their need?
  • Are your processes and policies available online?
  • Have they got access to their payslips?

On employee data

  • How are you managing your employee data now that it’s harder to use paper forms?
  • Have you got a single (and digital) record of all your employee information?
  • Have you managed to cut out all the physical paperwork?

Final thoughts

There’s HR tech to support every stage, from getting hired to getting paid. Looking at HR tech through this lens helps you decide where to focus your investment.

And when it comes to managing your remote workforce with ease, taking the steps highlighted in this article and putting them into play will help your people to feel supported, engaged and motivated to do their best for the business.

[White paper] Payroll and HR in SA: Rising to the challenges of change

The global shift to remote and hybrid working and regular legislative changes have resulted in payroll challenges of considerable complexity for many businesses. Learn how payroll and HR professionals and small businesses are adjusting to the new challenges.

Download the white paper