Posts

High-Performance Lessons Learned From The Remote Workforce Revolution

By Patty Crabtree

Startling statistic: In August, 2021, 4.3 million workers quit their jobs because they were looking for something better or they did not want to return to working back in the office again. The media have dubbed it The Great Resignation.

Why the exodus? Because the remote work environment created by the pandemic is a two-edged sword: employers can recruit employees from far afield, but your employees can seek or be lured away by employers who offer greater flexibility.

Let’s go back in time to those disruptive days of March 2020 when the pandemic pushed the work world into a new era. Some companies successfully transformed into a remote work environment almost overnight. But others reasoned this was just going to be a few weeks so they would wait and see. Then it became a few months. Soon reality set in and almost every business had to create a hybrid work environment that embraced remote workers.

Now for many, a remote workforce has become a way of life. There is no going back. Soon we’re going to have two years of this journey in our rear-view mirror. What are the lessons to be learned? Those who are embracing this change will be ahead of the game. But those who are fighting it are going to see challenges with retaining employees and recruiting the best staff for their team.

Manage By Outcome, Not Hours

Before the pandemic, more and more companies were already starting to develop remote work environments and were allowing certain employees to work from home on a regular basis. They saw the benefits and increased performance. Then the pandemic pushed us into fully embracing this flexibility out of a need versus a want. This also moved us into a new understanding of how to create a high-performance work force.

Managing for high performance is hard. There is an old business joke about a man who asked a CEO, “How many people work at your company?”

“About half,” replies the CEO.

The humor illustrated how much unproductive time employees typically spend at an office. The management challenge is to maximize productivity for the hours the employees work. Or is it?

Here is the real question: do you measure hours versus outcomes? If you define the outcomes for a position, do you care, aside from labor laws, when they work and how they work? Granted there are a few positions that may not have this level of flexibility, but many jobs do. As long as they’re getting the outcomes accomplished in a timely basis, an employer has the opportunity to leverage the higher productivity a hybrid work force can deliver.

During the pandemic, the work environment evolved and employees have experienced the opportunity of a better balance based on more flexibility. The challenge now is to embrace this remote work revolution that had been gaining speed well before the pandemic and was accelerated by the work-from-home mandates.

Naturally, many employers want their employees back in the office. These employers miss the good old days of easier access and camaraderie.

But do you really want to fight progress? One reason so many companies are embracing the hybrid revolution is the advantages of attracting the best talent. There are no longer geographic restrictions on where you can draw the best talent from to join your team.

Not Every Company Was This Fortunate

At the end of 2019, one mortgage company decided to eliminate its home office and go 100% virtual. The company already had some remote staff, but it developed a game plan to close down the office to get everybody working from home. The company came up with the systems, purchased the hardware to allow everyone to work from home, and created a plan to ensure its culture stayed strong. Events like five-minute morning stretch breaks leading the team through some simple exercises to keep the body moving. Virtual meetings would start with a quick round robin of how everyone’s week was going before they would jump into the business part of the agenda. The company was creative and did multiple team building exercises like virtual scavenger hunts and escape rooms.

Did it pay off? When the world went into lockdown, its business exploded. By being ahead of the curve the company was ready to take advantage of the real estate boom. Were they just lucky? As the famous scientist Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

The Great Opportunity

Managing a hybrid or fully remote workforce takes a different focus. I use the word intentional here. A more intentional focus on the nuances of a diverse work environment is important to continue a healthy, successful workforce. Over time, this intentional focus will become second nature but in the beginning it is an intentional effort.

Wise employers are not hanging on to the comfort zone of the old structure they had pre-pandemic. The path of wisdom is to choose a structure that will stay ahead of the curve.

Were employees really producing to the level they could, or are they producing better in a remote environment away from the distractions of an office? Many studies indicate remote workers actually have a greater productivity than those in the office. There’s less water cooler talk, less hanging out in the hallways, and more focus on getting the work done and moving on to the next action item.

Many companies have successful track records with remote work. When a company I worked with created a remote work environment back in 2006, we achieved more and more productivity from our remote staff. From reduced distractions to better systems, staff performed higher each year.

Commuting to and from work can be a huge productivity drain and a distraction to one’s day. Think about all those who were walking into the office frustrated, unwinding with a cup of coffee and venting about the person who cut them off. Instead of the driving hassles, remote staff can take a short walk from the kitchen to the home office. They can feel more energized at the start of the day, have a better focus and achieve more success. They also experience a better life-work balance which brings more engagement.

Developing strong systems not only helps monitor productivity but also communicates expectations to staff. Workflow tracking systems ensure that effective assignments are happening and timelines are being met. People know exactly what’s expected of them, and your leaders are able to monitor employee progress helping it along the way.
Higher productivity leads to greater profitability.

Other Tools Are Key

Have you also built recognition into those systems so that it’s visible? People can share their successes with others through their day-to-day interactions without even having to share it. It’s there in front of you displayed in the system. Who is leading the charge? Just check the system. It is a great motivator to keep things on track or even ahead of schedule along with celebrating success.

Team building is critical in any type of work environment, and that is especially true with a distributed workforce. So, how do you encourage connection among your groups? One option is to consider is to have an element of team building built into your team meeting agendas. Set aside a few minutes in the beginning to have everybody share what’s going on or their successes for the week, or even something minor and personal such as what is their favorite vacation spot, or what dish do they like to bring to a potluck? Get creative with the team building questions.

Now Is The Time To Hire Differently

There are some other important questions to consider.

Have you included a work-style assessment as part of your hiring process? Do you have a tool to help you understand somebody’s personality and how that fits in with the team? Do you have a library of interview questions available to help understand how somebody will thrive in your hybrid work environment?

Once you find that right candidate, does your onboarding process create a connection along with a specific job training for a new hire? Are there team building events included in your onboarding process? Have you formalized the onboarding into a schedule of events, meetings, and trainings that guides that new employee through the process and ensures they make those connections that are so critical across the organization?

Here is the bottom line: Developing a successful and lasting hybrid workforce takes some effort. From enhancing your culture to implementing better systems, this intentional focus will bring positive results and keep you as an employer of choice.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

Patty Crabtree is a Senior Consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with 25 years of operations and finance leadership experience. Her phone number is 310-453-6556, ext. 410 and her email is pattyc@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.  To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you are open to a conversation about how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team, including pricing and the science behind the tests, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Checklist To Create A Hybrid Work Environment Culture

By Patty Crabtree

“I just want everyone back at the office and let’s just get back to normal,” many a business leader has said.

But let’s face facts: the old ways of business will never really happen again. That train has left the station, that ship has sailed.

During the pandemic businesses have been exposed to the possibilities of remote work. Many workers found it to be liberating as they were no longer tied to that commute or the rigid nine-to-five schedule. Now that we have seen what is possible, how can we capitalize on it and develop that world class service?

Here is a surprising statistic: If given the choice between a $30,000 raise or permanently working from home, employees at some of the biggest companies said they would choose the latter. LinkedIn News, citing a survey by professional network Blind, reports 64% of respondents would forgo the extra cash for the remote work benefits. About 67% of Google respondents preferred permanent work-from-home, as well as 64% of Amazon, 62% of Microsoft, 69% of Apple, 76% of Salesforce and 47% of JPMorgan Chase employees.

“I’m not surprised at all,” said Chelsea Jay-Wiltse, a career coach at Intelligent.com. “The pandemic provided an opportunity for many professionals to reset and rediscover their priorities. Most professionals found working from home provided a better work/life balance, more time with family and friends, and decreased stress levels. Utilizing technology to its fullest extent is the way of the future.”

She offers this prediction: “More employers will need to offer flexible scheduling and remote work options to remain competitive when it comes to attracting talented professionals.”

However, the message we keep hearing at Lighthouse Consulting is businesses want to return to normal, all the peas back in the pod. We are not a fan of this word normal. This word gets thrown around every time something pushes us outside our comfort zone as people crave the known and are afraid of the unknown.

Normal is such a disempowering word. It takes away from the opportunity and encourages things to go to back the same. But a return to normal is just an illusion as our world has changed. With all the opportunities that have occurred, why would someone want to go back to the way things were when there is a possibility of something better?

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Déjà vu is the feeling you have experience something before. For me, I faced this dilemma many years ago as my company faced a staffing crisis. As a small company, our solution was to start building a remote workforce. Through trial and error, we developed a high performing and successful workforce that cultivated a high retention rate of both clients and staff. Our culture of innovation thrived, and collaboration was strong. As profitability increased year over year, we had proof this concept worked.

As more people are vaccinated and the infection rate is decreasing, the talk is about moving back into the office toward that normal. Many leaders are inferring they will demand everyone return to the office while employees are wanting options. Some want to be able to work remotely a few days a week. Others want to work remotely full time.

Managing A Hybrid Workforce Takes Focus

So, how do you balance this desire for a hybrid-work-environment so it supports everyone’s desires?

Managing a hybrid or fully remote workforce takes a different focus. One word I like to use here is intentional. A more intentional focus on the nuances of a diverse work environment is important to continue a healthy, successful workforce.

Here are some aspects to consider as you plan for continuing a hybrid or remote workforce:

  • Culture. How has your culture evolved during this time and how does it need to further evolve to support a hybrid or remote workforce? Do your current core values fit this new environment? Is a fine tuning needed?
  • Communication. Have you established a formal communication plan to ensure all messaging is heard by staff? This would include the types of events that can occur throughout the month, who should be included in the communication and what method the communication is expressed.
  • Strategy. How have your leaders ensured a focus on both short-term and long-term strategy? What is the long-term vision and plan for the company while embracing a hybrid or fully remote work environment?
  • Management. What training has been provided to managers to ensure they effectively supervise the hybrid or remote workers and maintain a high level of productivity and staff retention?
  • Customer Service. How has customer service evolved? Has this been an intentional practice or in the moment solution?
  • Collaboration. How have you encouraged collaboration in a hybrid or fully remote environment? What tools have been put in place to ensure collaboration continues to thrive?
  • Team Building. What hybrid team building activities have been established? Are they scheduled on a regular basis?
  • Training. How has ongoing training evolved to support a hybrid or remote workforce?
  • Flexibility. Is that nine-to-five work environment really the only effective way for your staff to be successful? Is there an opportunity to provide flexible schedules that support company needs along with a healthy work-life balance for your employees?
  • Meetings. What tools have been put in place to facilitate effective meeting and encourage a healthy dialogue?
  • Recognition/Engagement. How has your recognition program evolved to be inclusive of both office and remote workers? What is your engagement plan?
  • Interviewing. What practices have been put in place to support effective remote hiring?
  • Onboarding. Do you have an effective plan to onboard new hires both in the office and remote workers? Does you plan include team building and culture activities?

“The pandemic lockdown only accelerated the work-from-home trend,” says Dennis Consorte, a small business consultant at digital.com. “In a digital age, commuting is a waste of time for many professions. If you work in retail or construction, then sure, you need to show up to do the work. If facetime is important to company culture, then businesses should consider rotating schedules where staff visits home base once a week. The key is in measuring the value that people provide, rather than the hours they work.”

Consorte says this mindset eliminates concerns over employees who work fewer hours than their peers, because it’s the value they produce that matters, regardless of how long it takes. “Work-from-home rewards workers with hundreds of more hours of personal time each year, making for a better work-life balance, and happier employees produce better results,” he adds.

Developing a successful and lasting hybrid workforce takes building a new muscle. A muscle of enhanced communication, unique team building approaches, leaders driving the conversation and showing the way with a new focus and creating an offering that is attractive to existing and potential employees along with ensuring your customers continue to feel valued.

This is like any new strategic initiative. Being strategic takes planning, focus, communication and accountability to implement and thrive.

If you are open to a conversation about any of these aspects of creating a hybrid work environment culture, please call or email and we will set up a time to talk.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

Patty Crabtree is a Senior Consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with 25 years of operations and finance leadership experience. Her phone number is 310-453-6556, ext. 410 and her email is pattyc@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.

If you are open to a conversation about how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team, including pricing and the science behind the tests, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

For more information, please visit our website, www.lighthouseconsulting.com to sign up for our Open Line webinars and monthly Keeping On Track publication or to order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”. If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Defining Your Culture and Hiring Strategically

By Patty Crabtree

Picture in your mind a race car speeding toward that waving checkered flag as it prepares to cross the finish line. If you think of a company like a high-performance car, culture is the oil that allows everything to run smoothly to help achieve your goals.

Culture reflects what is greatest, genuine, and noble about the company. It is the key behaviors an organization expects as the team works together and with its clients and vendors.

Culture establishes the foundation of the company and defines the qualities to be successful and help achieve its mission.

Overcoming A Culture Challenge

The culture journey for Bill’s company started with identifying the key attributes that they felt exemplified how they wanted to work together. Bill communicated it to staff and shared it with his clients. He posted it on the breakroom wall as a reminder. The company even branded it in their email signature blocks.

But the challenge was their behaviors did not reflect those defined values. It was not the heart of the organization. The words chosen were what they seen other successful companies using to define their values. It just was not who they were, how they were making their decisions and how leadership was supporting staff.

This misalignment led to a high turnover rate. A turnover rate that cost not only the hard dollars and time to recruit new candidates, but the soft dollar costs of repeated onboarding and staff scrambling to cover all the work. The situation had an adverse impact on company morale. Overall, the company had stalled in its growth.

Bill and his leadership team were puzzled. They felt they had a good work environment and didn’t understand what was holding them back. They were committed to creating an environment for growth and decided to take a step back to reassess their approach.

Bill’s team went through an exercise to help them identify the genuine culture for their firm. What were the core values that would drive their business, their team? Through this effort, they uncovered their own unique style and reflected it in their values.

Then, they took it one step further. Each value was clearly defined to communicate what it meant to the organization. Definition statements were created for each value to describe its intent. These enhanced values were shared with staff and communicated on a regular basis. Leadership reinforced them in their daily interactions.

The updated values were also more deeply embedded into their recruiting process. Behavioral interview questions were developed that focused on cultural fit which helped pinpoint the best candidates.

Over time, Bill’s company’s turnover was reduced by more than 50%. The recruitment process brought the right people to the team. Bill and his leadership team were successfully enhancing their infrastructure and teamwork which drove the growth.

Nurturing the culture and creating a stronger recruiting strategy took a focused effort to produce the desired results. In the long run, it paid dividends for them. Year after year they exceeded their goals and built a well-oiled machine.

Strong Culture Creates The Power of Alignment

One of the most powerful tools is alignment. Alignment brings a shared vision with everyone moving in the same direction.

Every company has culture whether it is by accident or by design. Some may be in that early growth stage and have been chasing the business opportunities, so culture has not been formally developed. Others may have determined their values but the day to day takes over and it isn’t nurtured.

If your company is being outperformed in the marketplace, you experience high turnover in key positions, financial performance is declining, or just want to move from good to great, often these issues are a result of an unhealthy culture.

Alignment empowers your staff with the knowledge of what to do, how to do it and why it is being done. It gives an emotional stability to their work world that encourages high performance.

Be Purposeful With Your Culture

Developing that path toward alignment is one part of the process. Being purposeful with it is another aspect. Leadership must walk the walk. If this does not happen, then your culture will struggle.

Once you have defined your culture and it has been effectively communicated to staff, a critical part of the process comes into play. To walk the walk. It starts with your leadership team embodying your culture in all their actions.

Clearly define how you want to lead, what is your purpose, something that rings true to the heart of the organization. Then, live by it consistently even though the hardest decisions.

Integrate Culture With Your Hiring Strategy And Beyond

At times, hiring can feel like a shot in the dark. You meet with the candidate, assess that they have the technical skills needed, you like them. So, you hire them and then 30-90 days you realize they aren’t fitting in and thriving in your organization. The situation can be confusing because on paper everything looked good though in execution it doesn’t meet your expectations

The missing piece here is understanding that person’s values and how it fits into your organization. Developing a recruiting process that supports your culture will help make it a more effective practice and lead to a stronger team environment. Hire people who believe in and display the values important to your organization. When someone comes onboard and does not embody your values, it can slow progress, disrupt teamwork, and cause morale issues.

Adopt Behavioral Interviewing

Once the core qualifications are met, the best interview questions are behavioral based. Questions around the candidate’s approach to certain situations or experiences.

In an interview, you want the candidate to speak more than you do. You want to know about their experiences and how they approach different situations. This does not come from asking the basic “tell me about yourself” or “where do you see yourself in 5 years.” This comes from “give me an example” or “tell me about a time.”

Ask the candidate to describe the culture at their last firm. Tell me about what worked well? What could have been improved? What are the elements of a company’s culture that they feel creates an excellent work environment? Have them share a story about how culture helped resolve an issue and what was their role in that resolution? Have them share a story about how culture inhibited a project they were working on and what happened.

Another approach is to interview your ‘A’ players about the qualities they feel makes them successful or someone successful in the position. Listen to their perspective on successful outcomes and teamwork. Use this information to build the behavioral based questions.

Open-ended questions are the best way to learn about people and determine their fit into your culture. Ask questions that tie into those success qualities for the position and have candidates share stories about their execution of the values most important to your organization.

Improve Onboarding Because Hiring Doesn’t End With An Offer Letter

Culture appears in every aspect of your organization. It flows through recruiting to onboarding and long-term retention.

The opportunity to instill your culture with a new team member is through a detailed onboarding process that reinforces your culture and expectations along with training on the systems and job specific tasks.

Many times, a company will bring someone in, have them complete the necessary paperwork, give them a quick tour, show them their desk, give them a quick overview and set them loose. This approach is a lost opportunity.

Developing a mapped-out onboarding process that includes learning about the organization, its culture, the different departments, and developing relationships along with the necessary job specific training can set a great foundation for success.

It helps create connection and enhance engagement. A well thought out onboarding process connects new hires to every aspect of the organization along with developing relationships throughout the firm. Many new hires express gratitude for this investment in their success.

Here Is The Bottom Line

Culture takes regular nurturing. Commit to creating an environment where staff will thrive, clients will receive excellent service and your external partners will feel valued and you will reap the benefits. Keep steering everyone in the same direction, toward the same goals and vision course correcting when needed.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, has a team of inter-disciplinary specialists ready to help raise the effectiveness of critical functions within the organization, such as Sales, Customer Service, Operations, and IT. From team building to implementing cybersecurity technology, LCS consultants are uniquely suited to advise small, mid-sized and global companies. We can assist with in-depth workstyle and personality assessments along with skills testing for new hire candidates at all levels within an organization. Each is a former business executive with extensive strategic and tactical skills. Our consultants are poised to provide, on short notice, highly personalized and cost-effective guidance and tools to boost the performance of a department or organization. For additional information please email danab@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

Patty Crabtree is a Senior Consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with 25 years of operations and finance leadership experience along with building a successful remote workforce. She has extensive experience in successfully leading and growing teams. She was instrumental in the development of an operations infrastructure that resulted in consistent increased profits and employee engagement. Patty has also effectively navigated the challenges of change management in the ever-changing business world.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.  To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Time to Develop a Remote Workforce Strategy

By Patty Crabtree & Dana Borowka

Our work environment is evolving. Despite concerns about employee productivity, data on the American workforce indicates that the remote worker trend is picking up steam. Is it time for your business to embrace a remote workforce?

U.S. businesses are doing the math, and the math says the remote-worker option is a great opportunity for workers and employers.

Allowing employees to work from remote locations means a company can expand its talent pool from beyond its local geography. According to university/industry research viewed by Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, if the right person is selected his or her work production has the potential to increase by 30% to 300%. Obviously, hiring better workers that work remotely can result in increased productivity and client satisfaction.

For example, a Chinese travel agency saw productivity increase by 13%, and the US Patent & Trade Office (USPTO) reported that output increased by 4.4% when it transitioned to a remote worker program.

Sure, there are some who still are skeptical. In an August 2019 article in the Harvard Business Review (“Is it time to let employees work from anywhere?”), three professors raised the following concerns despite the remote worker movement growing in popularity:
In our experience…managers often worry about remote employees working less, or multitasking, mixing personal responsibilities with work. There are also concerns that allowing employees to work from anywhere could decrease communication and collaboration among coworkers and might constrain the informal learning that typically happens in the office.

However, the professors’ research demonstrated the advantages of a work from anywhere (WFA) program. “A key takeaway from our research is that if a work setting is ripe for remote work – that is, if the employee knows how to collaborate remotely and still do their job well – implementing WFA can benefit both the company and the employee.”

With effective productivity measurements in place, it does not matter if the employee is in front of you or not. Success comes down to ensuring effective communication, training and focusing on evolving your tools to support the remote workforce.

“Data indicates that the remote-work trend in the U.S. labor force is inexorable, aided by ever-better tools for getting work done anywhere,” according to Christopher Mims in The Wall Street Journal.

“Surveys done by Gallup indicate that in 2016, the proportion of Americans who did some or all of their work from home was 43%, up from 39% in 2012,” cites Mims in his June 2017 article titled “Why Remote Work Can’t Be Stopped.”

Points to Consider

Remote worker programs must be done right if you are to garner productivity gains and increase employee retention. As someone who has implemented these programs and now helps clients at Lighthouse Consulting transition to these programs, here are several points to consider:

Recruiting: Many companies struggle finding the right candidates for their organization. Having a small radius to find the right talent can add to these challenges. Opening up the geographic area for recruiting, creates a whole new talent pool. Recruit across the entire nation or target specific areas in the country where more candidates with certain talents may be found. Keep in mind, some states have tougher labor laws so research on the laws for each state is needed as you find candidates.

Interviewing: Interviewing can be done via video conferencing. If face to face is preferred, bring the final candidate to your office. It is important to have a strong hiring process that helps you identify candidates that fit the needs of the position and culture of your organization. This screening process is critical even if you are not hiring remote staff. Knowing your culture and how an employee will blend into the work environment is an important element of successful hiring.

Onboarding: A successful onboarding process ensures your new employee understands both the culture of the organization and their specific role. It is an opportunity to team build and to begin the process in developing strong working relationships with their new colleagues. Many companies will bring the remote candidate in for a period of time for the initial training and orientation. This gives the individual a chance to “get a feel” for the company’s dynamics in person along with making some face to face connections. Other companies will utilize video conferencing to manage the onboarding process along with activities to connect the new employee and other staff members. While learning their role and being productive are important out the gate, it is also essential to invest time in sharing your culture and building working relationships with colleagues. This helps the employee feel valued by the organization as they start in their new role.

Managing: Managers need training on how to successfully engage a remote workforce along with understanding the nuances of managing both office-based and remote staff in an equal way. It takes practice and discipline to ensure a manager is giving the same attention to remote staff as they would an individual that is 20 feet away from them. Policies such as “How often should the manager reach out to touch base?” “How do managers chair group meetings and engage remote workers in the conversation? “ and “What expectations should a manager set for participation of remote staff?” should be worked out before implementing a remote worker program.

One company required that all meetings be done via video conferencing including 1-to-1 meetings. Some staff members may be resistant to being on the camera though making this mandatory to participating in the remote worker program can help emphasize the importance of this connection. Reminding the employee that you see more of them in person than when they are on camera may help ease any anxiety.

Culture: A strong company culture is needed to ensure everyone is approaching servicing your clients and working together in the same manner. As you roll out a WFA program, one will need to review the organization’s values and consider how working remotely would impact them. Is collaboration important to you? Then, what tools would be needed to ensure successful collaboration continues? Is passion one of your values? If so, how would communication need to evolve to engage that passion when staff are in different locations?

Technology: Data security is the number one concern when it comes to technology. How should our servers be set up? What protocols should we use so remote workers can securely connect to our network? What equipment should a remote worker use? What about encryption? If we allow use of personal home computers, what are the risks? What about printing? How will phone access be handled? There are multiple solutions on the market today to support the technology needs of a remote workforce which makes it easier to implement this type of program.

Team Meetings: Team meetings continue as usual. Using video conferencing helps keep the group connected. The chair will need to keep in mind any delays from the video conferencing system (usually 1-2 seconds) to ensure people have a chance to share. There are a few approaches to support this type of environment. If an interactive process is warranted, the chair can ask each person directly for their feedback giving a “protected” space to speak. If this approach doesn’t work, the chair can pause and ask the remote staff if they have any feedback. The important element is to give the group chance to participate and a safe environment to speak up.

The Benefits of a Remote Workforce

Productivity will increase, staff will have a better work-life balance and they may be less stressed (not upset about being cut off on the way to work, or anxious over traffic making them late). You can reduce the footprint of your office space saving money, reduce the environmental impact of having all those cars on the road, expand your candidate pool of qualified candidates, build a stronger employee focused reputation, and open up employee referrals for potential candidates. Happier employees equal happier clients, retention of key staff members, and the potential for increased profitability.

Here is the Bottom Line

Employees need to be trained on how to transition into a remote worker environment and the expectations of their participation in the program. Managers need to understand the dynamics of supporting remote workers and the organization needs to ensure the proper tools and policies are in place for a successful work from anywhere program. In today’s world, a work from anywhere program is a viable solution for companies.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, has a consulting arm available to help with remote workforce programs. We can assist with recruiting and interviewing ideas, onboarding, managing, culture, technology, and supervision strategies such as team meetings and virtual collaboration. These can be parlayed with the other offerings from Lighthouse Consulting Services such as talent development, in-depth work style & personality assessments, skills testing and team building.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020

Patty Crabtree is a Senior Consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with over 25 years of operations and finance leadership experience as well as successfully leading and growing teams.  She was instrumental in the development of an operations infrastructure that resulted in consistent increased profits and employee engagement. Patty has also effectively navigated the challenges of change management in the ever-changing business world.

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your business”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar, so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”.  To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

Our Sino-Am Leadership Program helps executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, https://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

We also have an affiliate in the UK who covers all of Europe so we are now a true multi-national company that can support our clients globally.