The 6 Basic Needs of the Remote Worker When Doing a Task
Over the years I had to work with thousands of distributed employees when implementing new projects or operational changes. My objectives were related with their timely and accurate execution of specific tasks. So, I had to deeply understand their needs in order to make sure that the tasks that were assigned to them were as easy as possible to execute.
Working remotely is perhaps the most challenging situation, yet my findings apply also to workers of all kinds whether they work in a small remote unit or they work physically in the office at the headquarters. Here are the six needs I have identified, that if fulfilled lead to better work done fast and at lower costs.
The employee will need to know the formal information around how to do his job. This includes procedures, forms, recent changes and apps that are involved in the process.
Understanding exactly why a certain process is important for both the organization and the employee makes things a lot easier and the results are a lot more consistent.
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Headquarter managers assume that once an employee receives the initial training, he or she will accurately remember everything with the task at hand. Both pressures of all kinds and information overload turn this assumption into a costly mistake.
Sometimes even the most skilled workers get stuck. This is when being able to quickly identify who can support you and answer your question makes the difference between success and failure. And I do not mean the generic “competence search,” but a way to quickly identify the person, phone number, group email address or ticketing system where you should address your question.
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This works at a higher level than just support. It lets the remote employee contribute observations and ideas about what is not working well or what might work better. In organizations that are becoming more and more complex, having a direct connection between internal customers and each process owner is one of the most basic requirements.
On top of their daily work, each worker is receiving competing tasks from various sources. Having a system that collects all these requirements and builds a simplified to-do list makes things a lot easier for any worker. It is especially important for remote workers that miss the frequent alignments with the peers or managers that happens in an office environment.
These needs can be handled by the intranet/digital workplace and, if properly implemented, they can lead to better results than in the initial scenario.
Here is how to design a better experience for the employee doing a task:
- Identify all the relevant topics for the employees. A simple way to do this is to make an inventory of all the services provided internally by all departments.
- Prioritize the list of topics based on impact to the business and resource availability of each department to generate content.
- For each topic make sure that there is a page that contains content to support the 6 needs. At minimum, for each topic there are procedures and forms, a support person a feedback contact, which is typically the process owner.
- If the support process is supported by an app, a direct link to the specific functionality is mandatory.
- Having a FAQ list is plus.
- Add tags to each news and you will be able to display the list of the most recent updates on the topic.
- Creating a why an article might be a challenge for most process owners, yet having a workforce aligned on the same goals and values is key to reaching high performance.
- If there is any training material, make sure it will be tagged and surfaced from the training repository. Better still, you can design small learning beans that employees will bump into during their navigation so that they can get incremental improvements.
Richard Branson once famously said, “Take care of your employees, and they'll take care of your business.” If you take care of the needs of remote employees doing a task, the task will get done faster, better and with much lower costs. And if you take care of all the tasks that are critical for your business to succeed, your business will succeed a lot faster.
About the Author
Cristian Salanti is working as a Digital Employee Experience Architect at Zenify.net. He has been developing Intranets for the past 20 years. He is advocating for a more practical, managerial approach to Digital workplace design.