This isn’t what I signed up for
It’s 8:30 am and that means it’s time to get started at work. At this point I’m working in HR, managing two different locations. I work with the whole gamut of employees: from creative types like designers and artists, to factory workers on the production line. I also work with people half way around the world that I maybe see once a year but talk to every day.
Welcome to the global economy. Remote work is here to stay.
Remote work offers some of the best possible options for employees and companies. Studies have found that, in general, employees have lower burnout, more autonomy and higher production. Which means better retention rates for companies. It’s a true compromise that really can provide the best of both worlds and get so close to being perfect for everybody.
Except when it’s not. And employees become unhappy.
Managers get frustrated and say it’s the workload. HR chimes in and insists it’s the culture. The employees say it’s because they’re required to be in Slack all day and never have any time to do real work.
But you know what it really is? All of these things... and none of them.
The real problem is that your employees have signed up for this job with one expectation, and the reality is proving very different.
But you can fix this before you even start interviewing.
How to solve most of your remote work problems before they start: be transparent with your job descriptions
Transparency has been one of the best things that businesses have done to create trust and loyalty in their employees. In fact, it’s one of the things that employees list as one of the most important factors when deciding to join a company. Transparency is powerful, and must be included on your job descriptions.
Describe what a typical day looks like
Hubstaff, who wrote a great guide on creating remote teams, says you should include the benefits of the job, which includes what a typical day looks like. Think about what this person will be doing once they wake up and get to work. They’ve got no commute, and can work from anywhere they want. That’s an immediate win.
Talk about the worst parts of the job
The scary thing about transparency means that you also need to include the flip side of the job. Now, don’t confuse this with expectations. For example, being in weekly calls to discuss team projects is an expectation, not necessarily good or bad. But talking to angry customers? Or having to fix a system issue at 3 am? Those are objectively not fun. And it’s okay. No job is perfect. Acknowledging that and letting people know what the hardest parts of the role will be helps them set better expectations for what they’ll be doing — which means they’ll be happier.
Show team members how you value them
All job descriptions want you, as an applicant, to explain why you want to work for that company. And that’s a fair question — you want people that are excited about your mission and values. But that passion is a two way street, and just like there are a lot of candidates, there are a lot of companies out there, too. You’ve got to invest in people — and let them know how you invest in them — to get great applicants. You can show that you value your team members by talking about educational opportunitiies, growth potential, time off, perks, or equipment stipends that you offer.
More transparent job descriptions mean you’ll only attract the right candidates
By now you might be thinking, what are you talking about? Try and explain a typical day? There’s too much going on to do that! Talk about the worst parts of the job? That’s going to turn people away!
You don’t want lots of applicants — you want the right ones
But the thing is, you don’t want a lot of applicants. You want the right ones. I’ve easily reviewed over 1,000 resumes in my time doing HR. And that was not for one thousand different jobs. Some jobs would get over 300 applications. You know how many people we hired? One. So you don’t need all the applicants. You need the right ones. And including the good with the bad helps ensure that only the people who are willing to deal with the not so exciting parts of the job will apply.
New hires won’t be surprised at the hard parts of the job
And remember that problem around expectations? If you listed in your job description that this role is expected to talk to customers who are angry and may very possibly yell at them, it sets realistic expectations. Team members won’t get as upset when this happens, because they knew upfront it was part of the deal.
Talking about the bad stuff makes you trustworthy
Transparency breeds trust. If you’re open with people, they’ll be open with you. That logic crosses over to the business side of things as well. If you expect your team members to be honest with you, then don’t hold things back from them.
Your team culture will benefit
All of this transparency can seem scary at first, and of course you’ll deal with some bumps in the road. But companies like Buffer have benefited tremendously from a transparent platform, from their own team members, to their customers, and even the press.
That means you’ll get to work with happier team members, have less turnover, and better work results. And who doesn’t want that?