4 Lessons COVID-19 Has Taught Us About a Remote Contingent Workforce

We entered this pandemic seven months ago and oh boy, have we all learned a lot. When working with many programs, we’ve found that organizations prefer to have their workers on site. Obviously, with the pandemic, that has drastically changed—most employers, where they can, now have both their full-time and contingent workers operating remotely.

Needless to say, it has been seven months and many organizations have made working from home the standard for the time being. That ‘new normal’ (as it’s been called), hadn’t been without its fair share of challenges that have taught us some very valuable lessons about adapting to the remote work life.

Here are some lessons that have been learned about a remote contingent workforce.

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1. Working Together… Separately

As mentioned, pre-COVID, the norm has been to work with our contingent and full-time workforce on-site in your office. So what do you do now that most office-based workers are at home?

Employee engagement is still a critical part of the worker experience. Regardless of whether the worker is on your site or working from their couch, it’s imperative that they feel included and believe they’re providing value to your organization. You’ll also want to know that the contractor is making an impact and is being productive.

What we’ve seen and would recommend is:

  • Setting regular check-ins with your contingent workforce to make sure they’re on track.
  • If applicable, use technology to track project progress and measure deadlines.
  • Clearly identify contacts and who to ask when they have a specific question.
  • Include the worker and ask for their perspective and feedback on the business.

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2. Creating a Remote Onboarding Process

Onboarding can be a difficult task under normal circumstances, when people are all together, so bringing a brand-new person onboard in the midst of a pandemic is going to be especially stressful.

There’s nothing worse than a bad first day. First impressions are important and even if the worker is remote, that doesn’t change the fact that you need to have a plan outlined for items like:

  • Equipment distribution
  • Employee training
  • Meeting the team
  • Company overview

The best advice we can give for this is to be prepared, make a plan, and check it twice.

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3. Expanding Your Talent Reach

One of the silver linings of working at home is the comfort that comes from knowing that you can do this. In other words, there’s comfort in knowing that your staff can be at home and you’ll still be a productive organization. With this knowledge, more organizations are expanding beyond their office geography and are looking at remote talent to fill contract positions.

We believe that this ideology is here to stay and that, in future, organizations are going to be more focused on the quality of the talent rather than the location. With the understanding of how to work and onboard remotely comes the security of knowing you can bring in a remote worker and have them assimilate into your organization.

4. Identifying Process Gaps

Process gaps have become more glaring during the pandemic for both full-time and contingent workers. When all workers are in the office, it’s easy to go from one workstation or cubicle to another to get what you need. For example, if you’re announcing a new product release today, you’re doing it remotely. That means you now have to communicate with the sales, development, and leadership teams to let them all know the release is complete. If you were in the office, the news would have traveled a lot faster.

When bringing in your contingent workforce, you will realize the importance of processes. These processes are so inherent to your organization that they may not have been documented for the next person to follow. This is definitely an opportunity for improvement.

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Coming to Terms With Remote Work

Overall, while there was definitely a learning curve in 2020 on how to move your workforce from in-office to fully remote in a matter of week(s), there are many silver linings that have come from expanding how we work. I’m sure that, over time, there will be many more lessons to be learned and obstacles to overcome.

To hear more about how the global pandemic has shaped our contingent workforce, join our panel discussion ‘Coping With COVID-19: How the Pandemic Has Shaped the Contingent Workforce’ on October 27th, at 2PM eastern.