Senior Vice President for Automotive & Transportation Strategy, Peppercomm
Perspective: Leveraging the Power of Hybrid Work
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It has been two years since the COVID-19 pandemic first sent many office workers home, and it sure seems like remote and hybrid work are here to stay. For trucking and logistics companies, remote and hybrid work models can get complicated. But with the right steps, even our industries can adapt to this new — and no doubt permanent — way of working, enabling us to better compete for much-needed, high-performing talent.
Remote work opens the company up to talent from new markets and people. For companies urgently seeking help, that is welcome news. By seeking talent from other geographic markets, companies can now tap into a much larger talent pool than in the past, when they were limited to what was available in their immediate vicinity. For example, a company in Kansas City, Mo., could hire a talented logistics manager or purchasing coordinator in Chattanooga, Tenn., Pittsburgh or Portland, Ore. HR managers and talent acquisition specialists should be clear when posting job openings that the job can be remote, potentially with occasional trips to headquarters.
To run a successful hybrid or full remote work model takes clarity, transparency and trust between employee, manager and HR. Everyone needs to work to help facilitate conversations. Creating materials such as FAQs and discussion guides can help managers facilitate conversations with employees about remote/hybrid opportunities. Once you implement a permanent hybrid program, continue to provide guidance so that remote employees can advance in their careers, in whatever location they work. Guidance around career advancement opportunities and conversations focused on the employee’s goals within the company should be discussed formally at least once a year during annual performance reviews. Managers might consider conducting this annual performance review and career advancement discussion in-person during a planned visit to the headquarters.
It’s also important to understand the right models for your organization. Have conversations with employees and managers around which models make sense for which jobs — in-office versus at-home and fully remote versus hybrid. Someone in an international logistics manager role might work better at home given the various time zones they work in, but would need a day or two in the office every week to coordinate with internal teams. However, a customer service specialist or purchasing manager, for instance, could probably work fully at home. When it comes to this new normal though, there’s no one-size-fits-all. Your employees and their needs are unique, and you can recognize that.
You’ll also need to train your managers, particularly those used to a full-time in-office schedule. Managers must understand that how they used to manage is going to be different and learn to trust their teams regardless of workplace. Someone like a supply chain manager who deals with purchasing, warehousing, inventory and production managers may need help in learning how to communicate effectively with remote workers. Remind them that by getting comfortable in this new environment, they will be able to attract quality employees from a bigger pool of prospects and better retain current employees who want more flexibility.
Schedule regular check-ins. It is important to check in with remote and hybrid workers, not only for status updates, but also on how they are doing overall, both on the job and off. Are they finding anything difficult in this new environment? Do adjustments need to be made? Are they getting enough face time with you and colleagues? Is their technology providing enough support? Have they structured their work so that they can manage their workload and have time for their personal lives?
Finally, you need to create firm policies and work plans. Establish policies outlining what is expected of remote and hybrid workers, including hours, availability, workspace, breaks, etc. These policies should closely match what is expected of employees that are in the office full time, such as supply chain and inventory managers.
The state of work has certainly changed. As offices begin to fully open back up, a firm strategy for remote and hybrid work is necessary, especially in order to stay competitive with hiring and retaining good employees.
Rob Duda is senior vice president for automotive and transportation strategy at Peppercomm, a New York-based strategic communications firm with offices in San Francisco and London.
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