Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of global human resources at Indeed.com, says, “People want flexibility. Technology affords us that flexibility.” Research from Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Nicholas Bloom found a 13% improvement in performance by those who worked at home, and that productivity boost stemmed from spending less time commuting and more time working, along with an enhanced ability to concentrate. Bloom also notes that, at the company studied, resignations fell “by 50% when employees were allowed to work from home.” The key to building workplace relationships among co-workers is communication. Wolfe says face-to-face interaction is one of the best ways to build camaraderie among employees, which is why he gathers his team together twice per year for an in-person meeting. He adds that team-building exercises and volunteering as a team enable employees to get to know one another. “Face-to-face and voice-to-voice is the most important. You can pick up body language and intonation,” Wolfe says. He adds that when hiring remote team members that human resources (HR) staff wants to seek candidates that are motivated self-starters with good time management skills, as well as the ability to think through projects, set clear milestones and meet deadlines. They also need good communication skills, adds Wolfe. During the interview process, he explains that managers should ask job candidates questions about how they think through feedback before passing it along and what forms of communication they prefer. There are a variety of communication tools available, but Wolfe recommends starting every project with a video meeting, where milestones can be set. Then have a weekly email or other set communication so everybody knows where things stand, and what needs to be done, he explains. It’s also vital to establish owners for tasks and establish clear objectives, says Wolfe. Every member of the team-even those who work together in the same office-should dial in individually to avoid possible side conversations when on mute, he adds. Wolfe says, “You’ve got to be more mindful when you’re not in the same office,” especially with regard to brainstorming sessions and water cooler inspirations. Just like with on-site workers, constructive feedback is best done in person, he explains.
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