Home Office: I Didn’t Know What To Say.

“Can you integrate with video-conferencing platforms so that we can monitor employees when they work from home?”.

I swear. I got that question in a meeting last year. I couldn’t believe it – and I didn’t know what to say.

COVID-19 is forcing markets like Hong Kong and China to have their employees work from home when the nature of their job allows it. While widely adopted in other countries like US or Australia, telecommuting is new in the region, which makes it a hot and controversial topic referred as “the largest work-from-home experiment” . In this context, I can understand that some companies would like to monitor their employees when working at home using video – but that’s not what this post is about.

In fact, after having introduced last week what companies can do to protect their employees in times of crisis, this week I will give you some advice on what you should take care of in your Human Resources Information System (HRIS) when implementing a work-from-home scheme. Here are 3 actions you can take today.

Setup simple digital administration

Regardless of the complexity of your local regulations, chances are you will have to create a process around managing home office work, including data entry, approval workflows, documents and related reports.

If you don’t have a way to automate that process easily, your HR department might be overwhelmed with “Home office inquiry” e-mails, your managers spammed with “Home office requests for approval” sent by any sort of channel; and expect the tracking of these requests to be totally out of control. With a modern HRIS, it is actually very easy to put in place a step-by-step process, as well as to generate documents as proof of approval. Indeed, your home-based employees might need to provide an agreement letter at any moment, e.g. to an insurance company.. 

  • Employee requests to work from home. More than just the approval, you may want to validate that your employees have everything they need to complete their work, and you can do that with very simple questions to answer from their mobile like “do you have a proper desk and internet connection?”. This capability relies on the same framework we talked about last week: Extension Center. Below a few screens of the Home Office Request extension you can create and enable through the SuccessFactors mobile app in a few clicks:



  • Manager/HR approves the request. Why not enabling mobile approvals for your busy managers? In the screens below, see how easy it is for your managers to get full information on the work-from-home request and approve:


  • Employee receives a proof of agreement. Each home-based employee has an easy way to download a document as a proof of his employer’s approval for his home office work during the agreed period of time. Just select the document to generate and press “Download”:



  • Managers and HR will be able to track who is out of the office from any length of time, and plan work accordingly. The reporting used the same framework, look and feel as in last week.

 Voilà. Simple digital administration.


Eliminate Trust Barriers with Goal Management

“Can you video tape your employees while they work from home?”.

I still can’t believe it.

As much as we could perfectly cope for that desire with the proper technological arsenal, you might end up with the least engaged and least productive workforce – which is probably not what you want. You will be way better off, spending less time and less money by changing from micro-management to empowerment. And start switching your mindset from effort-driven to result-driven. Because yes: home office IS productive.

What you need is digital support for your objective-oriented workforce – this is commonly called “Goal Management software”. In order to keep control of the deliverables and to proof to your own management that your team is working as they should, you must make it easy for your people to continuously update their work achievements: that is one of the capabilities of Continuous Performance Management. Here is how it works:

  • Managers agree on goals with their team – or just create them and push down. To avoid duplicating efforts, an important feature of your Goal Management software is goal cascading, which enables managers to cascade (and apply the needed alterations) to their employees. No need to copy the goals one by one. In the screenshot below, a manager cascades a goal to his team members:



  • Employees update easily their goals in real-time, up to the level of Activities and Achievements they are working on. For example, here, an employee updates her manager on the fact that she has finished the documentation he has assigned to her, with a flag and a comment. Easy.



Finally, managers keep an eye on real-time work produced by their teams and can easily gauge where progress is falling behind schedule, then trigger the proper action.



Why would you need to video tape your home-based employees when you can follow their work that easily?

Decrease chaos by tailored enablement

Now that you have designed the whole framework for administration and management of your remote workforce, how do you make sure people follow that framework? As Dr. Steve Hunt said, “People do not fear change. What they fear is poorly managed change.” To successfully manage the change, it is crucial not only to communicate but to validate that your people actually know how to take the next right action.  

One of the easiest ways to roll out a proper enablement session and track its success is by leveraging a Learning Management System. Needless to say that, in that context, e-learning will be critical. A few suggestions:

  • Educate your employees and get their agreement on new policies related to work-from-home as well as hygiene in the office (when it becomes necessary for them to work in the office.) That will protect both your employees and your organization. Make it easy for your employees to read and sign policies from their mobile:



  • Train your managers! They are the key to managing the change – so you will have to put a bit more effort and structure for that population. Not only will you have to train them on tools and policies, but also to help them with a whole new challenge: become a remote leader (I wholeheartedly recommend you to read HKBN’s CY Chan’s piece Lead from Home (LFH) on that subject). Make the right split between internally produced training and off-the-shelf courses, e.g. LinkedIn Learning (with the “Leading at a distance” course). All learning, internal and external, will be tracked from SAP SuccessFactors Learning Management System. Here is an example of simple program you can roll out to your new remote managers:


And of course, keep an eye on the progress and remind these employees and managers who are not compliant with the new policy.

What about you?

Hopefully these tips will help you get started and take this challenge as an opportunity to boost productivity while your employees work from home. If you have any questions and would like more information on how to set up SAP SuccessFactors, I’m just a message away. Just don’t ask me if SAP SuccessFactors can integrate with video-conferencing platforms to monitor employees when they work from home  ?

Learn More: https://www.sap.com/hk/cmp/dg/hk-employee-safety-2020/index.html




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