All the complexities of HR work double for hybrid and remote workplaces.
There’s a lot more to handle in each aspect, especially if employees and contract workers live abroad. From time-constricted tasks in opposing time zones to foreign legal employment rules, currency conversion for payroll, and employee engagement with nothing but a screen to keep them involved.
Still, that’s no reason to lose hope! You can manage a scattered team equally as good as if they were in the office, and it doesn’t even take a lot to do so.
In today’s blog, we’ll go over the intricacies of HR for fully remote and hybrid teams, and explain:
- How to juggle multiple timezones for meetings, work, and project coordination.
- The way to connect all the workers’ data into a single dashboard for accurate payroll.
- How to work through foreign rules and regulations for employees living in other countries.
- How to monitor employees working from home or other remote locations.
- What it takes to keep disconnected employees engaged.
- How to overcome cultural differences in a team.
- How to keep the data safe from breaches when people don’t use secure networks.
- The rules of automation.
Most importantly, we'll explain how employee remote monitoring software can help you better manage your remote workforce.
Working Across Different Time Zones
Flexibility sure is exciting for other employees, but for HR, it won’t be as thrilling.
The first challenge that comes to mind is arranging a meeting for team members living in 3 different time zones. One is getting ready for bed, while the other has yet to start the business day, and the third is patiently waiting for the workday to end so they can unwind.
There’s an easy fix for this! World Clock Meeting Planner is a neat tool that makes a side-by-side comparison of acceptable appointment hours, pinpointing the exact time when it’s best to arrange an online get-together for different timezones.
As far as work coordination is concerned, you can get by with your usual combo: Slack, Google Drive, Trello/ Asana/ Jira, Zoom, and/or other remote work classics of your choice.
Employee performance monitoring software is another great tool that helps with work coordination for the remote workforce. It can show:
- What everyone is doing at each moment.
- The hours and budget spent on certain tasks.
- The progress status of different projects.
- Whether there’s room for improvement.
Additionally, it creates a unified virtual workspace, and it doesn’t matter where your employees are as long as the work is done.
Managing Employees With Different Contracts, In Different Legal Surroundings
Employees within your organization work under distinct conditions; some are on their probation period, others have full-time contracts, and others work as freelancers or independent contractors. Their wages may be hourly or fixed, per project, or monthly.
To add to the confusion, they may come from different countries — where specific labor laws apply and make you susceptible to all kinds of penalties.
Staying on top of state-specific regulations requires day-to-day tracking of any changes happening with the law; there are several ways to go about it:
- Using Google Alerts is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and fairly simple — just enter keywords related to the country and laws in question, and Google will send you related articles whenever they contain those keywords. To not miss anything, instruct your legal department/ employee in charge to oversee official websites and law changes.
- Hire Professional Employer Organization (PEO) and outsource to the country of employees’ origins. It will handle payroll, benefits, taxes, administration, and other HR matters.
- Hire a local attorney for periodic consultations. It’s easy for a domestic professional to track all changes and inform you as they happen.
Using employee monitoring software will help you comply with labor laws in the U.S. and across Europe, as well as other countries you or your employees operate from. It tracks working hours, breaks, rest, and pauses between shifts, all according to specifically mandated rules.
It’s important to note that, in Europe, time tracking systems are obligatory, to prove you’re not overworking and underpaying the employees. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will fine non-compliant companies with up to 15k euros.
In addition to keeping track of working hours, this tool can help you with:
- Tracking employee computer activity.
- Assessing productivity levels.
- Overseeing current projects.
- Finding spots for improvement.
How to Monitor Employees Working From Home?
Installing an employee tracking system will take a few key steps:
- Notify your employees about the decision to get their informed consent.
- Be sure to set up the system in accordance with local privacy laws.
- Opt for settings that retain their comfort and privacy, while protecting company assets and analyzing productivity levels.
- Come up with your own rules and criteria, and decide what is productive and what isn’t.
Did you know that a thumbs-up sign equals a middle finger in Middle Eastern countries? And that your usual “ok” gesture is quite obscene in Brazil? Using these to react to Slack messages will surely provoke a few chuckles, but some cultural slip-ups can be quite damaging, especially if they’re political.
An online sensitivity training or a course is one of the first mediums HRs use. Still, they’re rarely implemented as a preventive measure. Managers use them to scare off non-compliant behavior, as a punishment, and as a reactive measure.
This shouldn’t discourage you from using sensitivity training, but they’ll only work if you correct these mistakes above: schedule them when there’s a real need to do it, and encourage employees to educate themselves.
For permanent resources they can get back to at any time, create a Notion or Confluence document with extensive descriptions and suggestions. This way, they can take a look whenever they have questions, or want to chime in with something.
Remote Work Privacy and Security Issues
Working from multiple locations and using questionable WiFi connections exposes sensitive company data, making it susceptible to cyber-attacks and breaches.
There are several ways to protect your database — and we strongly recommend you use all of them:
- Limit the data access for employees — Only provide them with information necessary for their work; not because you don’t trust them, but because in case someone hacks their accounts, their access is more limited by default.
- Provide company devices and applications — Separating business and personal devices is the handiest way of keeping both employees’ personal information and company data safe. With pre-installed software and tools approved by the company, there’s less risk that they will use dubious programs. Moreover, your IT department can remotely access their computers and resolve the issues in a flash.
- Monitor computer use remotely — Track websites visited to instantly reveal whether employees have visited the unsafe ones, or have fallen for phishing scams, so you can act fast.
- Implement a password manager — These provide both password safety and convenience in case someone tends to forget their passwords.
- Use data encryption, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and single sign-on (SSO) — These are the standard safety procedures plenty of companies use to protect classified data.
- Deploy VPN to secure home networks — It may be impossible to assess every network your remote employee uses, but you can be safe when they work from home.
- Ensure GDPR compliance or compliance with other relevant regulations.
Automating HR Tasks
HR automation is a process that automates repetitive tasks with AI-powered software and digital tools. When implemented correctly, HR automation uses artificial intelligence guided by human touch to automatically handle candidate sourcing, outreach, assessment, onboarding, payroll, and administration.
An experienced HR professional still needs to set up and oversee these tools and find the best way to use the data they provide. Just like in other cases, automation still can’t replace people completely and doesn’t work on autopilot.
Benefits and Purpose of HR Automation
The initial argument against automation is that it will leave people jobless, but that’s far from the truth. The real purpose of HR automation is to bring joy back to work by leaving monotonous, mindless work behind to get creative and explore new ideas.
Before AI-powered HR automation skyrocketed, managers and admins used to spend about 14 hours a week on administrative drudgery. The ones who didn’t board the automation train struggled with lower productivity, higher costs of operating, and numerous mistakes.
In short, automation will:
- Help you allocate your time and financial resources wisely.
- Significantly decrease the number of human mistakes.
- Direct your HR team’s effort to mindful, creative tasks.
- Capture the contextualized data and study the details you’ve failed to notice before.
What Should You Automate?
You can delegate all of these tasks to automation tools:
- Creating and publishing job posts.
- Candidate screening, selection, and outreach in the first round.
- Certain parts of candidate testing — HRs occasionally have a hard time estimating the precise skill level for specific, highly complex positions in tech, for example; platforms such as DevSkiller have pre-made tests which help solve this issue.
- Candidate onboarding.
- Handling most of the administration and payroll.
- Work tracking and productivity analysis with employee monitoring software.
When you’re automating HR tasks, look for tools that can easily integrate, no matter how complex it is.
Custom integrations may seem attractive, but REST API is hands-down the best and most popular integration method. It’s lightweight, scalable, flexible, and keeps client and server independent.
Automation Traps to Avoid
Not everything about HR automation is that cool.
If you notice it doesn’t make your life as easy as advertised, you’re maybe babysitting the automation tools too much.
If you keep hovering and tinkering with them every day, they’re not fulfilling their purpose. Look into the way they’re integrated for possible mistakes, or consider setting them up differently. Slack, for example, has wonderfully useful integration with Google Calendar: it can send direct links to the meetings, notify you before they start, or send notifications if something changes, silent or muted.
Automating too much is another common automation misuse.
You may love it, but the candidates? Not so much. Some candidates reported that they felt uneasy and under-valued when they “performed a song and dance for AI”.
AI still can’t understand humor, subtle verbal and non-verbal cues, cultural differences, or have empathy for shy, introverted, and reserved candidates. Moreover, utilizing AI instead of speaking to the candidates feels disrespectful, as if you don’t want to spare even half an hour for a potential coworker. Candidates can’t express themselves, especially if their way of thinking and solving problems is out of the box.
With these issues in mind, you should think twice, and probably give up on automating:
- Detailed candidate assessment beyond CV and keywords — some of them maybe forgot to include a key detail that may land you a 100% fitting hire.
- Final rounds of job interviews, because someone seemingly fitting might be an entirely wrong culture fit.
- Employee-facing processes shouldn’t be fully automated. Human interaction is key to understanding candid feelings, and an integral part of onboarding, employee appraisal, and employee engagement.