Company culture plays an important role in attracting the contingent talent to your firm. They want to feel supported, included and valued by the company they work for.

However, talent also increasingly seeks, even demands, the ability to work remotely. Creating that workplace environment and culture when an individual’s “workplace” can be anywhere with workers interacting over Zoom and Skype can be a challenge. Yet, company culture remains an vital component of your employer brand — and your bottom line.

Professional services firm Jefferson Wells, part of ManpowerGroup, this summer queried more than 200 CFOs in the US about their top concerns and priorities for the months ahead. Its 2022 CFO Priorities Survey found more than half of the respondents, 57%, expect their workforce to work remotely to some extent over the next year. Yet, the CFOs still plan to improve their corporate culture with people management and investment. This will not be an easy task, however, as survey respondents noted maintaining corporate culture and team communications as their biggest challenges, cited by 63% and 62% respectively.

Mitigate Downsides

At the peak of the Covid pandemic in 2020, staffing firms reported a median 50% of their placed temporary workers were working remotely, up from 2% in 2019, according to SIA’s report, “North America Staffing Company Survey 2022: Remote work for temporary workers and internal staff, its effect on operations, and recommended best practices.” While that share declined to a median 20% in 2022, it is projected to remain in that range for the next five years.

The report cites analysis from SIA’s 2021 Staffing Company Survey, which asked respondents, “What, if anything, is your firm doing to mitigate any downsides associated with having temporary workers work remotely?” The responses  resulted in the following four recommendations:

Increased communication and engagement. Suggested strategies include increasing the use of automated engagement platforms and more mandatory on-line meetings with cameras on for most meetings. Making efforts to ensure the worker is engaged with their manager is also advised, and some organizations have implemented or bolstered “contractor care” programs to keep temps engaged with their company.

Improved onboarding process. This could include more stringent onboarding processes and the use of new onboarding tools. The process may also require some onsite onboarding. In addition, take the steps necessary to ensure any supplied technology, equipment and office set-up is sufficient for the worker to quickly be successful and efficient.

Clearly defined contract and policies. Adjust the verbiage in your contracts to limit contractors working multiple engagements at once. Another big challenge centers around how to get equipment to the contractor if the client is supplying it and how to get it returned when assignment has ended. It may be beneficial to put release documents in place regarding liability and responsibility.

Establish clear and detailed work agreements. Suggestions include having a signed procedure on how to work remotely, and putting processes in place regarding what the contingent’s duties will be, what’s required of them from a communication standpoint as well as mutual client and employee understanding of rules, hours and quality of work. “We put policies in place for use of client equipment in a home office — and use of home equipment where they are accessing client data — to protect company equipment and ensure security,” one survey respondent noted.

A Mainstay

Nearly half of employers, 48%, are allowing some form of remote work for their workforce, either fully remote or hybrid, according to the FlexJobs Employee Engagement Report released last month. The survey of more than 2,000 employed professionals also found that while 37% reported they are required to return to the office full-time, 19% — or one in five — said that people were not fully complying with return-to-office requests; that includes 4% who reported that no one is complying with requests to return to the office.

At the end of the day, attracting the best talent and having the most productive workers requires providing an environment where they feel heard, valued and appreciated. Have your contingents proved their ability to be successful working remotely? If so, it may be time to adjust your policies and build a policies and systems that promote a culture that serves everyone — no matter where they hang their hat.