Thanks to rapid advances in mobile technology, flexible working is here. Across all industries and sectors, organisations are challenging the assumption that staff need to be giving face-time in the office to be productive.
Savvy managers know that, in many roles, connectivity through a laptop or mobile and reliable internet connection is often all that staff need to get their work done.
Remote work is highly attractive to today’s generation of employees. In fact, 78 percent of employees report a desire to work from home, and many would take a pay cut in exchange for more flexible arrangements. And research shows that having the opportunity to work remotely (at least part of the time) reduces work-related stress, improves employee engagement and increases efficiency.
It’s not just employees who stand to benefit from remote work. Organisations who support remote workers can also reap the rewards of higher workforce productivity, lower office costs and a positive workplace culture.
Keeping remote workers connected
There’s no doubt that remote work has real benefits for employees and organisations alike. However, it can also present some challenges. For example, HR teams and line managers who are used to ‘traditional’ ways of working aren’t always sure about how best to engage remote workers in company culture.
When employees don’t come into the office on a regular basis, how do you give them a warm welcome, answer their questions quickly and efficiently, and be available to provide support and guidance?
The answer is bots.
Modern tech solutions for a modern workforce
There’s already plenty of evidence that technology is a powerful lever for creating connection between remote workers and their colleagues. For example, 87 percent of people who work remotely report that videoconferencing makes them feel more connected to their peers.
The use of bots can take employee connection and engagement to the next level.
Bots are software applications powered by artificial intelligence that can ‘learn’ automated tasks. They provide interactive human-like interactions and have the ability to respond to questions and commands from users. Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri are popular examples.
In the workplace, bots can play an important role in meeting the unique needs of remote workers. Let’s take HR, for example. Remote workers don’t have the luxury of being able to turn to the person next to them to find out where to find a policy or who to contact for a payroll query. In many organisations, it can be a time-consuming task to dig around for this information without guidance. The good news? Bots can fill this gap.
There are new bots on the market that are purpose-built for supporting HR teams. These bots can answer questions on behalf of HR representatives, backed by a central repository of HR information and powerful analytics.
These bots can handle general HR questions (such as “where can I find the parental leave policy?”) to specific ones (such as “How much annual leave do I have?” or “When am I due for a salary review?”), without input from HR staff. By answering HR queries on the spot, bots save remote workers from having to make a trip into the office or losing time searching in company systems.
There are many advantages of investing in bot technology. For example, bots are available 24/7 and provide immediate responses to users, which greatly reduces the lead-time to provide information or answer questions. They can be ‘trained’ to handle information in specific domains and draw on an established knowledge base to ensure that users receive accurate and up-to-date information.
Bots have the potential to free-up valuable employee time, allowing skilled professionals to focus on high-value tasks while the bot handles routine and manual work.
Where to from here?
If your organisation supports flexible work, investing in HR bots can unleash significant benefits to connect and engage your remote workers. To learn more about bots and their role in HR, download Cloud Collective’s latest white paper: AI-driven employee engagement: How to attract and retain talent in the modern workplace.