There has been steady and now considerable rise in the number of offsite employees in private companies. There are quite a few companies that allow work-from-home options to employees for various reasons. Then there are companies that have to employ employees and depute them at the client's location. It is extremely important for Human Resource (HR) managers to engage with offsite managers even more than they do with onsite ones. It is because if these employees are not interacted with and made to realize that they are important for the organization, there are good chances that they will feel disconnected and even unmotivated. It is also important to let them know the targets and keep updating them on achievement or fulfillment of the targets by other teams, especially the onsite teams, for them to calibrate their approach in achieving the rest of the target.
Technology For Connecting
The HR managers must engage with the offsite employees directly, making use of technology like skype or others. In no way offsite employees should get a feeling that they are ignored and not important for the company. The HR managers can make use of phones as much as possible instead of email. This will go a long way in establishing proper connect with the employees. Face-to-face meeting with the HR managers should also be organized as frequently as possible.
Team Building Exercises
Team building exercises must be planned for offsite employees at least once in six months with on site employees. This will have the effect of offsite employees feeling part of the organization even more. This will also help the offsite employees bond with the onsite employees and understand their work flow, responsibilities and pressures, if any. This will result in greater co-operation between the two groups of employees.
Training Programme for Skill Enhancement
The HR managers must organise frequent training programmes for skill enhancement at the main office location where regular employees report every day. The training may be for improving communication skills or similar other acumen. This will also enable on the spot interaction and team bonding with the onsite employees. This will go a long way in team bonding and sometimes even better co-ordination between offsite and onsite personnel.
Suitable Evaluation Techniques
The HR managers must develop suitable evaluation techniques for offsite employees. It is a must since HR managers have a more difficult time in monitoring offsite employees and may misunderstand them and their output and hence the offsite employees may feel less trusted. This has the potential of having lower productivity by the offsite employees and thus the turnover of the company may also be impacted.
Deputing Onsite Mentors
The HR managers can depute an onsite mentor for the remote-site employees. This will help the offsite employees in connecting with the company is an effective way. The mentors will also help fostering a feeling of inclusiveness. This will also result in better communication between onsite and offsite employees. Through this mentor, the HR managers can better find out the difficulties being faced by the offsite employees. The HR managers can come to know of problems immediately and nip them at the bud. It will also help the HR managers to know of frustrations that may be building in the offsite team more effectively.
Build in as much transparency as possible. The offsite employees must know what are the parameters on which the onsite employees are being evaluated and rewarded. Transparency and honesty is a must for building stronger bonds with remote site employees.
The author is VP, HR, Sun Life Financial Asia Service Center. Views are personal.