This is the age of working from home, outsourcing work to contractors and we find more and more field sales people having to spend more and more time away from the office. If organizations are moving towards more such models, how are HR practices helping in engaging these workforces? It is often like – oh but we forgot to add their names to the list or oh, but they may not be able to make it as they might not be in and slowly, disengagement sets in. While employees are becoming well versant in virtual working, HR teams have not necessarily geared up to keep pace and to leverage technology to their benefit.
Let’s take, for instance, working from home. For many employees, getting to office takes a special effort. However, it is important to facilitate that at least once a week to ensure employees are able to connect with other employees and remain ‘plugged in’ to what’s the latest etc. The social networking opportunity that working in an office provides is often missing for virtual workers. It is not a wonder then, that many of them might eventually choose to drop out of the workforce. Scheduling visits to the office when all virtual workers meet is important too. This cannot replace online hangouts or video Skype calls. By working from home, employees do save a lot of the infrastructure cost for organizations. It is, hence, important to offer some sort of financial benefits like reimbursements for their visits to office. This might help in employees not feeling discouraged and motivating them to make the effort to keep up their engagement levels.
Which does bring another interesting question to the fore – do virtual workers need additional or a separate set of performance indicators? Like – regularity of participation in scheduled team meetings, participation in virtual meetings by way of sharing a point of view, building a virtual network etc.? Most times, organizations who claim to be uncomfortable with the model of people working from home, have a hard time trusting employees. Adding such performance expectations and criteria might help create some discipline for the employees and build trust in the model for the organization.
With the talent shortage being faced globally, many organizations cannot afford to ignore these workers. So what is your organization doing for retaining its virtual workers?