You’ve made the decision – your staff can work from home. They can choose two days a week to work at home, and the other three days, they will be in the office. As a leader, you feel good. You’ve given your staff the flexibility you think they want, and you get people back in the office as you want. It’s a win-win situation, right?
As news of the new workplace requirements starts to settle, staff may ask you questions. As they ask those questions, you may start thinking of some of your own, such as:
- Is hybrid/remote work having a positive impact on my organization?
- Is my organization sufficiently equipped for hybrid/remote work?
- How well are managers and staff dealing with working in a hybrid/remote environment?
- How well are teams communicating with each other?
- Are my managers equipped to lead their hybrid/remote teams effectively?
- What am I not seeing that needs my attention?
The best way to answer these (and other similar) questions accurately and objectively is to conduct a remote workforce assessment. By completing an assessment, you will better understand your team’s dynamics. You’ll get straightforward answers about what’s working and what isn’t, what managers and employees really think about your workplace, and what you can do to foster success working in a hybrid or remote environment.
What’s involved in a remote workforce assessment?
Assessing your workforce starts by interviewing your organization’s leaders about their observations, concerns, and vision for success. To help leaders, we’ve created a process that keenly assesses how optimized your workforce is operating and communicating in a hybrid or fully remote work environment. After the leadership interview, we conduct a quantitative, anonymous survey with all staff. We learn their thoughts on topics such as their understanding of your:
- Workdays and productivity
- Policies related to remote work
- Communication practices and barriers
- Culture and connectedness
- Tools and technology
The survey will also give you insight into your employees’ –
- Dynamics as a direct report or a manager
- Engagement with the organization
- Experience onboarding with your organization
You may think it’s easier to develop your own internal assessment – who knows your people and structure better than you, right? If you decide that on path, please beware. You may unintentionally tailor your assessment to favor specific comments or outcomes. People may also not answer questions honestly as they may fear that you can identify them by their answers. This is why we believe an objective third-party remote workforce assessment is best. They are designed to minimize bias and encourage honesty through their anonymity. A third-party evaluation can provide accurate insight into what’s really going on with your culture, practices, staff, and managers so you can make data-informed decisions.
How an assessment benefits your organization
A robust remote workforce assessment provides lots of valuable data. You can receive insight on what’s working and not working for all your team members—managers and staff. A good assessment prioritizes the workplace elements that need attention first, so you know where to focus your organization’s time, energy, and resources. It identifies the right challenges to solve. For example, what you thought was a communication challenge may, in fact, be a transparency and trust issue.
The assessment process illuminates disconnects between management and employees. When administered by a third party, it gives employees an anonymous channel for making their voices heard. By engaging them in the assessment process, you’re showing them that their opinions matter, and you’re setting a precedent for encouraging feedback and fruitful conversations.
An effective assessment (like Achurch’s) –
- Uncovers issues that lurked beneath the surface when everyone worked in the office
- Recommends strategies to address and solve those issues
- Identifies areas of confusion for staff, for example, where they’re unclear on procedures or the reasons behind what you ask
The Five Essential Elements™ of an Optimized Distributed Workforce
An essential part of the assessment process is receiving a findings summary. For our clients, we give them a report that identifies their organization’s strengths and weaknesses in each of the Five Essential Elements™ of an optimized hybrid/remote workplace:
- Manager Development
- Employee Engagement
The report helps you understand what’s working well, what’s holding you back or presenting a risk, and what short- and long-term steps can help your organization reach its potential as an optimized hybrid/remote workforce.
Depending on the assessment’s findings, the report may also include advice for improving:
- Employee engagement
- Team Building
- Performance Reviews
- Training for Managers
You’ll learn where you need to implement training, standardized procedures or policies, and communication and collaboration tools. You’ll see where decisions are worth rethinking. For example, are your existing workplace policies addressing the new needs of a hybrid workplace? Are staff coming to the office for the right reasons—face-to-face interactions, meetings, and collaboration?
Conducting an assessment and getting its results is only step one. The next step requires you to take the information you received and decide what to do with it. If you really want a “win-win” situation for you and your staff, use the data and advice in the report to enact positive change. Consider what Ron Friedman, author of The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace, says about fostering a positive workplace, “The secret to happy workplaces isn’t spending more money. It’s about creating the conditions that allow employees to do their best work.”