August 2020 - Striven

You’re Working Remotely. Did Your Data Come With You?

If you run a business, data is at the heart of every decision that you make. Removing a poor selling item from your inventory is driven by your financial data. Hiring the newest member of your staff is driven by the data found on their resume. Simply put, data is vital. 

Businesses that have successfully transitioned to remote work have brought their data—and data management strategies—with them. As a business owner, you have the most intimate knowledge of your business. Knowledge of your finances is just as crucial as your knowledge of your employees. The best data is all-inclusive—it establishes a unity of fiscal and emotional intelligence. By utilizing your business’s “dual-threat” data, you can make the most informed decisions possible. 

In 2020, informed decision making is more difficult than ever. How do you make sure the next—and most crucial—decisions you make aren’t hampered by the shift to a remote office environment? As your data moves home with you, make sure that it’s covered by a cohesive data management strategy.

Context Is King

In an interview with HBR, Didier Elzinga, CEO of Culture Amp, discusses how data provides insight into strategic decision making. He says: “Data is the pathway to context.” 

As the captain of your proverbial ship, you see your business’s data in a context that others do not. The same goes for your top executives. A decision that appears lucrative in the eyes of your accounting department may wreak havoc on your sales department, or vice versa. In a study done by the Aberdeen Group, 48% of executives stated they had a difficult time accessing data from different business silos within their organization. Maintaining a balanced approach and overarching vision is driven by streamlined data management. 

woman using laptop on balcony with forest in background

Every decision you make in a time of crisis seems amplified. During your decision making process, remember this: not every bad outcome is due to a bad decision. More often than not, bad decisions are born from bad procedures. Make decisions that help your bottom line without overlooking the needs of the people directly affected. Your employees make decisions every day too—make sure that they have an effective and empathic process to emulate. 

In the short term, a decision that yields a profit despite taking a tumultuous emotional toll may seem necessary. Given the state of the American economy, it’s easy to rationalize this trade-off. In the long term, however, an environment where decisions lack emotional accountability is a house of cards one strong gust away from demise. 

With employees working remotely, the need for individualized direction and attention from your top decision-makers looms large. This may be the first time that you have been able to digitally access your employees’ workflow, so make sure you utilize this data to its fullest extent.

Ease of Access Is a Priority

The importance of your data is undeniable. The only thing more critical than your data is your ability to access it. Moving out of the office has made this a complicated undertaking, but nevertheless, data accessibility needs to be the backbone of your home office.

Not everyone in your organization is an IT professional. Odds are, the vast majority of your employees wouldn’t fit that criteria. In order for your data to best serve your business needs, it needs to be organized and readily available to people in all of your business’s roles—not just those with skills akin to technological sorcery.

As a business owner, you need access to all of your data, all the time. But, the same doesn’t apply to all of your employees. This isn’t to say that transparency and collaboration aren’t core pillars of a productive work environment—they are. What this means is that you need to make sure the right data is accessible to the right people at the right times. Not everyone needs access to everything to get their job done.

If an employee does need access to restricted data in order to complete an assignment, it’s important that they be able to be granted access. If it turns out this data was immaterial to them after all, you have the opportunity to explain why. Your employees will benefit from your big-picture insights, and you’ll learn by seeing things from their perspective, too. Data accessibility needs are dynamic—make sure that you’re able to adapt on the fly.

Your Data In One Place

Businesses similar in size to yours have routinely relied on on-premise storage systems. In the age of the remote office, that has to change. In fact, there is a 60% chance that your business will be forced to cease operations if it suffers a major data loss.

Even if your business wards off data loss, data disorganization can still wreak havoc on your bottom line. Time spent searching for documents and information kills productivity. No matter what the needs of your business are, having all of your documents in a centralized, cloud based location will serve as a positive change for the long haul, even if your employees return to working under one roof. 

man on laptop with data charts and graphs overlayed

It’s not just about your raw financial data either—make sure a coordinated system of communication is in place for you and your employees to discuss the context of your data. Additional data gathered about your employees work habits, insights, and decision-making skills will allow you to help them succeed in their respective roles. This type of balanced data is at the heart of successful businesses.

In the age of the decentralized workforce, data centralization is more important than ever. Working from home shouldn’t make you feel disconnected—it should make you feel empowered. You have the tools at your disposal to run your business anytime, anywhere. 

The way you work has shifted—now is a better time than any to give your operations an overhaul. Put your data to work by establishing a virtual, connected space for you and your employees.

Can HR Still Be Human From a Distance?

In this new socially distanced work environment, we’ve all learned a lot about how we work. Drafting emails, creating spreadsheets, and communicating with clients has transitioned relatively smoothly to the home office, albeit with a brief adjustment period. 

What about Human Resources? Along with sales and customer service, HR divisions are most responsible for serving people. They onboard new employees, share vital company policies, navigate tricky workplace issues, and even handle terminations. Done remotely, the most “human” parts of this crucial department are, at best, awkward. At worst, they’re dangerous. Goals of a remote HR division include emphasizing organization, efficiency, and—most of all—empathy. So what do HR professionals need to keep in mind as they continue to adapt to a remote environment?

HR Needs To Be More Human Than Ever

individuals that gain from using all in one business management software

The duties of HR professionals have shifted and expanded overnight. Making sure employees are able to access their health benefits is more crucial than ever. The same goes for ensuring timely paychecks. On top of meeting professional expectations, HR professionals have been tasked with the tall order of maintaining and cultivating a remote office culture to keep employees fresh and motivated.

While the pillars of HR professionals remain intact, their workload, methods, and need for additional support have increased exponentially. The focus of their work during this pandemic can be summed up simply: be a support system for the human needs of employees as they adapt to life in a remote office. 

Lisa Rowan, research vice president for HR, talent, and learning strategies at IDC, a Massachusetts based research firm, says in an article for SHRM that an “HR managers’ number one job right now is to keep people up-to-date, be reassuring and build trust.” When employees feel connected and cared for, their productivity will reach new heights.

Getting Organized Out of the Office

During any major transition, especially one of this magnitude, it can be easy to slip into a pattern of disorganization. As HR teams work to meet the ever-shifting needs of employees, their role is to create a well-organized infrastructure of collaboration and connectivity. Even without an office, it’s possible to have a centralized virtual location that employees can access each day.

all in one business management software in puzzle piece form

Maintaining a singular, fluid schedule of your employees’ hours, appointments, sick days, client visits, and whatever else fills their workday will cut down on wasted time. Everyone always appreciates a good “happy birthday” wish, too. 

Organized information is easily accessible information. When employees can’t simply walk down the hall to get answers on company policies, they’ll need a clear, centralized place to access documents.

Great Tech Breeds Great Talent

By now, we’ve certainly endured the struggles of the hiring process. Acquiring top talent has never been easy, let alone in the age of COVID-19. Most likely, a face-to-face interview has traditionally been the cornerstone of the hiring process. 

Hiring applicants who fit seamlessly into your company’s culture is crucial to the success of your business. It can certainly be tough to judge if someone is a good fit without being able to sit down with them in person. Being forced to deviate from the normal hiring process is scary, but hiring the wrong person is scarier

vector image of two shaking hands after using all in one business management software

In the age of remote hiring, being able to easily track the status of your applicants is essential. HR Teams can work on keeping all of your applicants’ pertinent documents (resume, cover letter, samples of work, etc.) in one, easily accessible place. This goes for documents such as tax paperwork and personal identification once they are hired, too.

Handling Difficult Decisions

As tough as it is to hire the right talent, it’s even tougher when the hand you’ve been dealt calls for a reduction in your employee headcount. HR departments have unfortunately been the bearers of bad news lately.

Strategic Planning

Since the onset of the pandemic, 76% of US companies have had to let employees go, with many not knowing whether they’d return. That’s a scary statistic. Layoffs are painful—and due to COVID-19—often out of your control. When it’s time to make these difficult decisions, it’s best to be concise and streamlined. 

But HR doesn’t have to make the process any more difficult than it already is. Make sure that sensitive information that now-former employees could access does not travel with them to their next job. That means being able to revoke access to data, both instantly and remotely.

Eyes On The Future

In today’s unstable business environment, Human Resources professionals can still be just that: resources for humans. By creating an efficient, effective, and organized virtual environment, HR teams can continue to prioritize the well-being of employees. Doing so requires the right tools, especially when you need to be prepared more quickly than usual.