HR is dealing with the sharp and sudden rise of the remote workforce. Now that people have tasted the freedom of remote work, it will be hard to go back to the office five days a week. If your company plans to adopt a flexible or hybrid work model—with employees working in the office and remotely—you’ll need to change some of your old ways of doing business and rethink how to empower managers and remote teams. 

Here are five steps HR can take to create a work environment that helps everyone reach their full potential, no matter where they log in. 

1. Schedule based on peak performance

Daniel Pink, author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, says that people can time their day for peak performance, depending on whether they’re early birds, night owls, or somewhere in between. According to Pink, everyone abides by a “hidden pattern of daily life” that affects our mood and energy levels, and thus our performance. There’s the peak which is when our mood rises, the trough, when our mood begins to decline, and the recovery, when our mood picks up again. Most people (80% of us) experience these stages in the morning, afternoon, and early evening but night owls will experience these stages in the reverse order (peaking at night instead of the morning). 

What does this mean for remote team building?

HR can make a company-wide practice of creating smart schedules, which encourage team members to work more strategically, based on the peaks and troughs of their daily energy levels. Work that requires the most focus and attention, such as analytical work, or writing, should be done in the morning. “That’s the time of day we are vigilant and able to knock away distractions,” Pink says. Administrative work and routine tasks, such as answering emails and filling out reports, should be left for the post-lunchtime trough. 

Brainstorming and creative work should be done later in the day, during the recovery stage, which Pink says is when our mood goes back up, but not to the same point of deep focus we experience in the morning. 

Encourage your remote employees to shape their schedules and choose what to focus on during peak hours. HR should also communicate to managers not to schedule any nonessential meetings during peak hours and adjust for time zones if your team is global.  

“Time of day explains the 20 percent variance between who is performing well and who is not,” Pink says. “Understanding this hidden pattern can allow you—or allow your boss to allow you—to do the right work at the right time, which will allow you to boost your creativity and boost your productivity.”

Remote teams need to collaborate to get the job done. By making it company practice to allow team members to create their own schedules, HR can help everyone work more efficiently. 

2. Communicate constantly

Office spaces facilitate communication. Outside of the office, HR and managers have to go the extra mile to ensure team members are aligned and clued in. The key is to have everyone feel like they’re involved in the process. Monthly all hands are an excellent opportunity to bring everyone together, but that shouldn’t be the only opportunity. Use internal communications such as newsletters or Slack channels to share information and spread news. Make sure managers are filling their team members in on any high-level meetings or recruitment initiatives that relate to their role. Being looped in, no matter how small the detail, helps everyone feel like they belong. 

3. Encourage professional growth

People are saving hours by not commuting, and without office distractions, employees can get the job done faster. Team members can use this newfound free time for professional development that also speaks to your company culture. HR can encourage people to take a day off to volunteer (also a great team-building activity), offer courses or virtual workshops to develop new skills, or offer teams the chance to work on a project in the company that’s unrelated to their usual projects. The mindset today is that a job is much more than a nice paycheck. Allowing your employees to develop in all directions will give them more job satisfaction and loyalty, and strengthen their commitment to the team. 

4. Give power to your people

Your company’s remote teams are more likely to succeed in a culture that encourages autonomy: one where they feel trusted and have the freedom to work at their best. Remote team managers need to establish clear performance benchmarks and guidelines for success and then give their coworkers the space to get the job done. No one wants a manager looking over their shoulder, counting how many hours they’re logging. Encourage managers to measure team members by the quality of their work and provide feedback to let employees know where they stand. 

5. Connect with the right tech

Remote work is possible because of the digital transformation taking place in our working world. With so many remote collaboration tools to choose from, you and your managers will have to do some experimenting to see what products work for your remote team and what is just fluff that you don’t need. Video platforms, chat apps, virtual conferences, and other unified communication channels are amazing, but the tools you use should also help strengthen the culture you’re trying to create–both on-site and off. Check out our breakdown of the tech tools that can help HR empower remote teams. 

Tap into your people’s desire for a better life

At Hibob, we conducted a global survey to gauge how employees feel about remote work and heading back to the office post-COVID. 62% of employees surveyed said that remote and hybrid work provides a better work-life balance. Only 13% of employees prefer to return to the office full time. And most alarming for HR teams, more than a third of the workforce is very likely to quit their current job (despite high satisfaction levels) if employers force them to come back to the office five days a week. 

One thing is clear—now that people understand firsthand the benefits of remote work, being forced back to the office seems counterproductive. Companies need to prepare for the certainty that remote work is here to stay and take the extra steps to ensure that remote teams have everything they need to succeed.

Annie Lubin

From Annie Lubin

Annie grew up in Brooklyn, New York. On a Saturday afternoon, you'll likely find her curled up with her cats reading a magazine profile about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.