Top 10 Things to Know About: Remote Workers

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As part of the American Booksellers Association’s “Top 10 Things to Know About...” educational series, Bookselling This Week talked with Pinnacle HR Senior HR Consultant John Kelly about what booksellers can keep in mind when introducing remote work to their stores. Learn about ABA’s new partnership with Pinnacle HR here.

For more information, booksellers should reference this article on managing remote workers and this article on saving time when working remotely. Parents might also find this article on alternative working arrangements helpful.

Here are the top 10 tips for hiring, training, and managing remote workers:

  1. Establish clear expectations and policies regarding remote work.
  2. If hiring employees, consider using nontraditional recruiting methods.
  3. Be sure remote employees have the necessary technology to complete all responsibilities.
  4. When training remote employees, keep all sessions short and allow adequate time for a Q&A.
  5. Keep training sessions as interactive as possible, as that can help employees learn and retain new information.
  6. Consider holding daily, weekly, and monthly dedicated check-ins by phone, email, or video conferencing.
  7. When working remotely, it’s important to manage time effectively.
  8. Remember to create strong work/life boundaries.
  9. Don’t forget to make time to socialize with coworkers.
  10. Supervisors and employers should work to provide both emotional support and encouragement.

Here is a more detailed recap of tips from Kelly and the resources cited above:

  • Right now, when considering remote work, Kelly encouraged booksellers to think outside the box as much as possible, especially regarding hiring practices and events.
  • Kelly’s biggest piece of advice for booksellers looking to hire remote workers is to go through nontraditional recruitment sources, such as religious organizations. This helps employers find applicants that they wouldn’t normally get.
  • If connecting with religious organizations, be sure they have the technical capability to hold interviews. Kelly has dropped a laptop off at his local church to ensure that applicants could participate in Zoom interviews.
  • Consider attending virtual meetings that aren’t specific to your industry; this is another way booksellers can find unexpected applicants.
  • One company Kelly worked with did short daily check-ins in the morning and the afternoon, and in his experience, it worked well to keep everyone on the same page about daily tasks. It also helped supervisors to know if their employees needed any help. Employees also sent short emails each day summarizing what they worked on.
  • Manage time effectively. Research suggests that time gained by not commuting can decrease productivity during the day. Consider taking 15 minutes to create your own version of a short commute, and use that time to take a short walk or plan your day.
  • Create strong work/life boundaries. This can mean creating an end-of-day ritual where you exercise, talk to a friend or family member, or have a snack.
  • Throughout the day, make time for small chunks of socializing with coworkers. Employers should offer employees several different options for communication technology.
  • Provide employees with both emotional support and encouragement. During stressful times, this helps employees feel listened to, but also like they are supported and have a plan of action.
  • When training remotely, Kelly said to keep sessions short and make room for interaction. This helps people retain important information.
  • While modules and quizzes can be used, and sometimes must be used depending on the training topic, Kelly said in his experience interactive, Zoom-based training sessions have been more effective.
  • Kelly also said that training should be relevant to current social issues; this can mean holding sessions on using gender-neutral pronouns.