Workplace culture is evolving quickly, with long-simmering employee sentiments heightened by two years of living through a pandemic. Existing employees are striving for a better work-life balance as well as the freedom to choose where and when they do their job. And younger job candidates are more likely to demand flexible and remote working options.
Not only do today’s HR teams have to contend with this new business landscape, but they themselves are also part of this shift. HR leaders are increasingly performing their job duties remotely, while also having to hire and look after remote and hybrid teams. The good news is, for businesses that hire the right remote HR leaders, this change can benefit employees and the companies themselves.
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Let’s take a look at why employers are hiring more remote HR leaders, and how they’re keeping up with this changing approach to the workplace.
Remote work is the new normal
Working remotely existed long before COVID-19 came along. But the pandemic kicked the trend into overdrive, proving that flexible and hybrid workplaces were not only possible for many businesses, but they could also boost productivity, increase employee happiness, and unlock access to an entirely new segment of the workforce.
Recruitment is one of the most important responsibilities of an HR manager. For most employees, it’s the single biggest interaction they’ll ever have with HR. So with more companies looking to hire remotely, what does that mean for the role of human resources in business? And can HR work remotely?
The HR leader’s role in remote hiring
Managing the recruitment and onboarding process has always been an important part of an HR leader’s job, and with more employees working remotely, this aspect of the role has seen the biggest transformation.
True remote hiring removes geographic barriers, opening up applications to a much larger field of potential candidates. This can make finding the right person for a role easier on one hand but more difficult on the other—with more needles come more haystacks.
Keeping candidates engaged and involved in the recruitment and onboarding process presents a secondary challenge for HR managers tasked with hiring remotely. Fostering a sense of inclusion and connection between workers who are hundreds, or even thousands, of miles apart isn’t easy, but it’s crucial when it comes to maintaining employee happiness and retention.
Losing new hires a few months after they join is expensive, so an HR leader who is equipped with the skills and experience needed to manage recruitment from afar can save a company money as well as help to create cohesive and collaborative remote teams.
Benefits of having a remote HR leader
One option for hiring a remote HR leader is to hire one as a contractor. Outsourcing any role to a contractor, whether they’re working remotely or at the office, is nearly always more cost-effective than hiring a full-time member of staff. When it comes to remote HR leaders, this potential money saving goes even further as the increased flexibility of working remotely means they can make the best use of their time and yours. There’s also the direct benefit of being able to hire outside of big cities and talent hubs, where the cost of living and salary expectations are generally lower.
Remote working arrangements go hand in hand with a more flexible approach to scheduling. Without a daily commute or traditional office hours to work around, a remote HR team can more easily flex their schedules to meet the needs of employees.
Remote HR leaders can manage multiple teams simultaneously and organize their schedules in a way that makes the best use of their available resources. This means they can be more efficient decision-makers, scaling up and down the support for your business depending on your needs.
A better understanding of remote work
Working remotely brings an entirely new set of challenges for an HR team, from managing paperwork and training online, to overseeing interpersonal issues between colleagues as they adapt to a new way of collaborating. A remote HR leader will have an implicit understanding of this dynamic and be better equipped to tackle any problems.
A smoother onboarding experience
Onboarding remote employees is an enormous challenge, as the lack of in-person communication can leave new hires feeling uncertain about their role or cut off from the company culture. A remote HR leader can lean into their own experience to help guide and mentor employees during some of the most critical moments in the recruitment and onboarding processes.
Possibility of a hybrid work model
The hybrid model enables employees to work in different spaces, such as a traditional office, an office rented for the day, a shared coworking space, their own home, or a mixture of all of the above. A key step in achieving this model in your own company is to move HR teams and other vital service departments to remote work, so they can be wherever they’re needed.
How to choose the right remote HR leader
All of the skills and experience that make an effective HR leader are the same qualities to look for in a remote HR manager. That means choosing someone who’s not only qualified in their field but who also fits in with your company’s culture, is empathetic and understanding and responsive to the needs of employees, and can develop recruitment strategies that deliver quality candidates time and time again.
However, there are a few additional qualities to look for in a remote HR manager. Attributes such as a high level of self-organization, excellent communication skills—particularly when it comes to writing and instant messaging—and being tech savvy become even more important when working remotely.
The future of remote work in HR
Remote jobs are here to stay. The people who can adapt to and thrive in this new way of working will help shape the future of HR in the modern remote workplace.
Nowhere else will this be felt more keenly than in recruitment and onboarding. As workforces become increasingly remote, HR leaders will have to rethink how they approach hiring new employees as well as supporting existing ones. This will include everything from the kinds of technology and tools used to search for and attract new talent, to the processes required to train employees and keep them engaged with the company culture.
The shift to remote working isn’t finished, either. Adjustments to work-life balance, a new generation of employees with strong feelings about where and how they do their jobs, and changes to the traditional concept of office space will continue to create new challenges for HR leaders.
The ability to not only solve problems but see them as opportunities for growth will be key to the success of HR leaders working remotely.
Steve Hogarty is a writer and journalist based in London. He is the travel editor of City AM newspaper and the deputy editor of City AM Magazine, where his work focuses on technology, travel, and entertainment.