Building Your Remote HR Career: 11 Tips for Success
After experiencing what it’s like to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many HR professionals now appreciate the benefits and want to continue working remotely. Today’s business environment makes this attainable. So how do you build your remote HR career? Let’s dive in.
Can HR work from home? The common misconceptions
How to start your remote HR career
How to succeed in your remote HR job
Can HR work from home? The common misconceptions
It’s been a common belief that HR can only be successful if they are located onsite. When the pandemic forced people in different types of office jobs, including HR, to work from home, perceptions changed. HR professionals proved they could establish better priorities and successfully support their employees and organizations in a remote work setting.
In fact, 85% of HR professionals reported they believe they can be effective working remotely. What’s more, Flexjobs found out that HR & Recruiting is the top growing career field with fully remote jobs.
Even though some HR jobs lend themselves more to working remotely, we believe that all HR jobs can be done in a remote way if set up and enabled in the right manner.
There are some common misconceptions based on outdated beliefs about why HR shouldn’t work from home. Let’s break them down:
1. Needing to be visible and available in person for employees
Does HR really need to be always available to employees physically to be effective in their role?
The reality is that even before COVID and the expansion of remote work, HR was capable of supporting employees from a separate location. For example, you might have had one HR Business Partner acting as the HR touchpoint for five worksites who would visit them periodically.
Now, with new HR technologies and especially digital service delivery, it’s realistic to manage accessibility and day-to-day interactions. Multiple channels of service equip employees to engage with the HR function regardless of location and time. With self-service tools, chatbots, phone support, video calls, and collaboration platforms (Slack, Zoom, Teams), Human Resources professionals can be more flexible about where they work.
What’s more, managers and employees who have an HR office within sight can make a habit out of stopping by every time a problem occurs. HR professionals may find themselves continuously dropping what they’re doing to help whoever shows up at their desk. They can also end up getting pulled into situations that are outside the scope and focus of their role. This makes it more challenging to prioritize and emphasize strategic work.
2. Ability to work with the organization’s leadership
In the past, executives often considered HR to be strictly an administrative function. It may not have occurred to them to include HR in the decision-making process. HR leaders had to assert themselves to have a voice, and having a visible presence helped. Fortunately, this has changed for most organizations.
In the current business climate, there is an understanding that a strong HR strategy is a key to success. HR is now elevated into a crucial role in setting and achieving business goals. When you adopt a strategic perspective and partner with leadership, you don’t need to be onsite all the time. As leaders also start working more flexibly, they will inevitably make sure that HR is included in meetings and decisions.
3. Accessibility for crisis management
HR certainly has an important part to play during crises. Typically, this has meant being physically present, so management may wonder, “What if something goes wrong and I need HR to be onsite to help?”
Working remotely just means that you need to better anticipate and prepare for these types of incidents. If you have the right processes and routines in place, you can manage unforeseen circumstances appropriately without being there. It’s not necessary to be in the office 100% of the time to cater to the 5% of unforeseen circumstances.
4. Missing out on interaction with colleagues
Comradery and helpful brainstorming certainly transpire when people gather at the same location. When you work remotely, it just takes a little more effort to engineer connections from time to time. You can always plan offsite team sessions every quarter to discuss priorities and progress face-to-face.
Some companies have gone fully remote and are able to find creative ways to connect. Instead of using funds for buildings or rent, they have a budget for getting teams from around the world together more frequently.
How to start your remote HR career
The misconceptions about HR working remotely are gradually being broken down. So what do you need to do to start building your remote HR career?
Remote work is best for people who really like their job and have intrinsic motivation to do it to their best ability, even if no one is watching over them. If working remotely is your priority and the right fit for you, there are ways to prepare yourself and find the right HR position.
First of all, determine what you want your next career move to be. Check out our HR Career Path tool and explore different HR roles that fit your skills, competencies, and ambitions.
Now, let’s take a look at a few ideas for landing a remote HR job:
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1. Explore why you want to work remotely
Even though it is possible for HR to work remotely, there are some limitations you need to consider, and some elements of the job might be harder. Every person is unique, and different personalities will deal with working remotely in their own way. Be sure you have thought out your reasons for wanting to pursue a remote career.
It might be helpful to ask yourself:
- What is the overall benefit working remotely provides me as an individual?
- How does this fit with my broader life situation?
- What are the limitations and challenges I may need to manage and how will I manage them?
2. Fine-tune your resume
Even if you already have a killer resume, you should consider tweaking it for your pursuit of a remote job. You want to be sure it accentuates your ability to succeed while working from home.
Here are some skills you should highlight:
- Previous experience and achievements with telecommuting.
- Times when you have been a self-starter and worked independently.
- Tech-savviness with specific applications and the ability to understand and adapt to new digital tools.
- Writing skills and ability to communicate well using text-based methods for interacting with co-workers and employees.
3. Know where to look for remote HR career opportunities
Telecommuting HR jobs are out there, so you just need to focus on where to find them. You can do some research and target potential employers that are already operating in a fully remote capacity. They’re sure to allow their HR team to work from home.
You can also find job boards dedicated to remote openings, such as:
- AngelList connects hiring startups with remote job seekers. You can complete a profile and apply for multiple jobs with just one application.
- Alight provides a variety of business services and has a job board with various types of roles, including HR.
- Remote.co provides resources to companies that want to offer remote work and lists openings for remote positions.
- Virtual Vocations is a job board dedicated exclusively to remote jobs in every field. A membership fee allows you to view their full listings and access a dashboard to track positions you’ve applied for.
- FlexJobs specializes in remote, work-from-home, and flexible job opportunities, featuring thousands of remote HR roles.
There are also HR-specific sites for job seekers with remote job postings, such as HR Jobs Remote and PeopleOpsJobs.
With many job boards, you can set up email alerts for specific keywords. That way, relevant job opportunities land directly in your inbox.
4. Demonstrate your key skills in interviews
Successful HR professionals already have many skills needed to succeed in remote work, and you should strive to further develop them. You can certainly use these to your advantage while interviewing for remote HR jobs.
Be ready to showcase the following abilities:
- Concrete examples of how you have worked effectively in a remote manner.
- Communication skills that enable you to successfully navigate your stakeholder relationships.
- Adaptability in facing change and finding alternative solutions.
- Being self-motivated and organized to complete superior, on-time work.
- Ability to work independently but also maintain a collaborative spirit to build relationships and seek out new ideas.
- Intercultural communication skills for dealing with a diverse or global workforce.
- A solution-oriented, critical thinking mindset for solving problems and moving forward.
5. Improve your digital dexterity
Working remotely means using a variety of digital tools to do your work, collaborate with your colleagues, and also enhance the digital employee experience at your organization. That’s why you need to learn how to leverage technology to drive value and be a digital change champion at your workplace.
Some ways to improve your digital dexterity include:
- Getting familiar with every type of work technology available at your current job, even if it’s not something you’re required to use.
- Experimenting with unfamiliar digital tools you may need to use for interviewing or in a new remote role.
- Becoming certified in Digital HR.
6. Build your remote network
Traditional HR networking groups are great, but you should also find ways to intentionally connect with other remote HR professionals. You will get a lot of inspiration and discover opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t. This is also an excellent way of tapping into shared wisdom and expertise when dealing with issues from a remote perspective.
Here are a few ideas for building your remote HR network:
- Find a public Slack channel or community and start real-time communication and collaboration with other HR telecommuters.
- Join our AIHR learners’ community.
- Leverage your social media accounts to find remote HR groups, comment on relevant posts, and create your own posts that invite interaction.
- Attend virtual or in-person conferences that attract remote-working professionals.
How to succeed in your remote HR job
Once you’ve landed a remote HR position, you can strengthen the potential for its longevity by standing out as a strong performer.
Developing your abilities in the following ways can help you flourish:
7. Be clear on the scope of your role, priorities, and workflows
To be effective at working remotely, you need to have a clear understanding of your key responsibilities. Discuss your role and responsibilities and how they align with the business needs with your manager. That way, you can prioritize the tasks and projects that have the most impact on organizational performance.
Setting measurable goals and KPIs will help you track your performance and the progress you’re making. It will be easier for you to not only spot opportunities for improvement but also showcase your work to your team and your manager.
Furthermore, you need to get to know the organization and its teams and process to understand how your work influences others and where theirs impacts yours. Make sure that you are clear about where you are involved in processes and where dependencies lie. Besides creating effective workflows, this also helps prevent misunderstandings.
8. Manage your stakeholders effectively, build connections and trust
The first step to effective stakeholder management is to map out who your stakeholders are.
In an HR role, your stakeholders are, of course, the employees, but also your manager and team members, the managers who you’re helping to manage people more effectively, and senior executives whose buy-in and support you’ll often need to succeed with your HR initiatives. You need to determine who you should be engaging with and the best way or format to do that. An organizational chart is a useful tool to get an overview of how your organization is structured.
Who exactly your stakeholders are will differ per project you’re working on. For instance, if your project is to organize a series of virtual team-building activities to engage your remote teams, you can create a simple stakeholder map to get an overview of who is affected by or has an impact on your project.
– directly affected / direct impact
– indirectly affected / indirect impact
– influential people and decision-makers
Remote employees Remote employees’ managers HR director HR agency specialized in virtual team building HR team Procurement manager Employee engagement specialists
Make sure you have an agreement with your stakeholders on how you will engage, keep in touch, and work together. This is especially important if some of them are not in remote-only roles. You need to be purposeful about building relationships, as it is not going to happen organically. You won’t be bumping into colleagues or overhearing water cooler conversations throughout the day.
Schedule one-on-ones and get to know your employees and the leadership. As you learn what the people and the organization need, you can meet those needs, build trust, and make a name for yourself within the company.
Be clear and confident about the value your Human Resources role adds. Not being physically present means there will be times that you have to explain to stakeholders what you’re contributing and how being remote does not impact your ability to deliver.
If you want to learn how to go about stakeholder management and increase your project’s chances of success, download our Stakeholder Management Playbook for effective HR leaders.
9. Ensure good communication
Good communication in a remote work setting requires over-communicating, documenting everything, and being able to communicate asynchronously. This is both within and outside of your team. Also, it includes using a variety of tools that you need to effectively manage projects and make work transparent.
As we’ve already mentioned, working remotely will require you to be more intentional about the engagement rhythms and opportunities you put in place with your stakeholders. A great way to engage your key stakeholders is to create a personalized communication plan based on their preferred communication style. For an HR manager, it could look something like this:
Stakeholder Communication style Action steps VP of HR Americas – Prefers informal communication
– Enjoys face-to-face communication, especially over lunch/dinner
– Call at least twice a month
– Plan a face-to-face meeting at the quarterly company gathering, preferably over lunch or dinner when possible
CHRO – Prefers brief written reports with key findings
– Wants formal information that can be forwarded to the CEO
– Send a monthly written report on project progress and learning points
– Keep up to date with the potential business impact of an analytics project
HRBP – Values personal touch and soft skills over hard data – Plan at least three meetings before year’s end
– Find a way to actively engage them with the analytics project at later stages
If leading an HR team, members need to be clear on where you need to be involved and when to pull you into discussions. Team meetings should have a set frequency, with all key role players aware of the expectations to effectively use the time together. Just because you aren’t in the room doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be involved in certain decisions or situations.
10. Establish your workspace and some boundaries
Many people who work remotely end up blurring the lines between work and private life. For your own well-being, you should develop a philosophy on how you will approach working remotely. Then you need to create a physical space and environment that sets you up to be comfortable and productive.
Here are some methods and boundaries you may want to adopt to be certain and transparent about how, where, and when you work:
- Designate “work” and “no work” zones in your home.
- Set a regular work schedule that defines specific hours you are accessible. Then stick to it.
- Have a daily routine just like you would when commuting to your job.
- Manage the expectations of your family or individuals who live with you so they know you aren’t always available just because you’re at home.
11. Focus on continuous learning
The world of work is changing, and you need to adopt a learning mindset to be successful in it. Here are a few things you can do:
- Be curious.
- Stay abreast of new trends and developments within HR and the world of work.
- Enroll in HR certificate programs.
- Participate in virtual and in-person HR events.
This, of course, goes for both remote and non-remote roles.
Currently, there is an unprecedented number of possibilities for remote HR jobs. If this way of working is your dream, now might be the perfect time to go after it.
Finding and starting a remote HR position can be a challenge at first, but with the right approach, you should be on track to success pretty soon. Leveraging your soft skills and digital dexterity will help make the transition to a remote HR job and thriving in the role easier. Good luck!
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