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Advice to HR Leaders for Supporting Employees While Working Remotely

May 29, 2020 by Elisa Gilmartin

Woman in a booth looking at a laptop

Over the past two months, our day-to-day lives have completely transformed. While the impact of COVID-19 changed in-office work practically overnight, it also shifted the ways in which business leaders support the wellbeing of their employees. 


As states begin to slowly reopen, organizations across the country are faced with planning what business operations will look like in the months and years to come. According to our data, roughly three-quarters of workers believe that their teams will transition to at least one or more days working from home after the pandemic. 


With flexibility here to stay, HR leaders are an integral part of the long-term journey to supporting remote employees. No matter the challenges that may arise while employees continue to operate remotely, prioritizing employee support is the most effective way that my team remains agile and prepared for the future while supporting the needs of a distributed workforce. 


Since the impact of COVID-19, here are our top three lessons for HR leaders  to forge a path toward sustainable remote work: 


Be transparent and welcome feedback 


While some organizations have ingrained flexible work into existing policies, many companies are experiencing the cultural shift to remote work for the first time. Similar to the ways in which people tune into their local government’s daily and weekly updates for state re-openings and announcements, employees crave the same transparency. Depending on the topic — increased flextime for parents, support resources, or even a simple check-in — HR leaders should choose the right cadence and medium to report on company updates. This is especially true as organizations begin to make decisions that will leave a lasting impact on employees and implement new policies that guide reopening. We find that leaving communication channels open to welcome questions, comments and concerns is an impactful way to ensure that employees feel connected and included in critical decision making processes. 


Remember that sustainable remote work is fluid 


At Fuze, we have always taken a work from anywhere approach. While this continues to be the driving force behind our philosophy and technology, the desire for face-to-face connection has never been more prevalent. Enabling the connection our employee’s crave, we rely on online chat, voice and video chat to fuel our workflows.


However, we have seen that the impact of constant video communications can be draining. HR leaders can take charge in setting expectations that long-lasting flexible work is fluid and employees should use their full tech stack to get work done in whatever way feels most productive to them on any given day — this may mean occasionally relying solely on conference calls to combat video fatigue. While we always encourage the use of video in meetings, giving workers the option to take a break will ensure that they feel refreshed and productive the next day. 


Share resources to be effective in a remote work environment and offer support to employees


External factors of stress and pressure have never been higher across the workforce. With some parents juggling both their day job and being a caretaker, and others crammed in small apartments in which they now have to call their homes and offices, employees need support. Enabling employee wellness in a virtual environment might be different for some, but there are always ways in which HR leaders can promote better connection and work-life balance for employees. One of the ways that Fuze is pursuing this is by creating "No Meeting Wednesdays", where there are no meetings company-wide from 8 AM to 12 PM. This allows Fuzers to ease into their day, take care of what they need to, and have time to do uninterrupted work. 


Consider creating open, lighthearted online chat channels where employees can drop in good news or share banter to replace water cooler conversations. Encourage managers to increase the cadence of check-ins with reports to ensure that those who need extra support are identified. Share tangible resources for employees to lean on such as tips for working remotely, free virtual exercise classes or mental health offerings. While building a strong company culture is always important, the feeling of sustained connection while working remote is imperative to success. 


From our people to our technology, I am proud of the strides we have made in the transition to full-time remote work and hope to continue to grow practices that support long-lasting remote work culture from the top, down.


For more resources focused on supporting remote employees in times of crisis, visit our Remote Work Resources page. 

Elisa Gilmartin
Elisa Gilmartin

Elisa is Chief People Officer at Fuze. She is responsible for championing a culture of innovation and designing strategies to attract, develop, and retain world-class talent, while continuing to strengthen an environment of high-performance and collaboration. Elisa brings more than 20 years of proven experience driving human capital transformation initiatives that enable growth and scalability at technology and SaaS companies. 

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