When the Workplace Is Anywhere, Your Support Structure Must Be, Too

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May 20, 2014

The idea of a “workplace” isn’t nearly as simple as it once was. It used to be defined by physical things – mainly four walls and a commute.

That’s not true anymore.

Now a workplace can be pretty much anywhere – an office, home office, bedroom, kitchen table, park bench, seat on a subway, or practically anything in between.

According to 2013 data, 34 percent of employers have full-time employees that don’t come into the office. For employers and human resource professionals, this makes the puzzle of meeting everyone’s needs a lot more complex.

Easier said than done?

Your employees have to be productive. They have to feel valued. And they have to know that they have your support – mentally, physically, and professionally.

This concept of uniform employee coverage isn’t easy. But smart companies have figured out that it’s in their best interest to get it right.

Most employers know by now that every employee – regardless of where they live, work, or sit from day-to-day – needs equal access to resources, opportunities, and support services. That’s the reality of a managing a flexible and global workforce. The benefits a company provides and the support it offers has to be consistent across every town, state, time zone, and country where its people live and work.

It’s a big challenge. And solutions require some creativity.

Making consistency a priority

My company is a perfect example. Workplace Options is based in North Carolina, but we have employees across the U.S. and around the world in nine (9) different countries.

A big part of both our business and our identity is employee wellness. As a CEO, I know how important employee well-being is to my business. It makes an obvious difference in our productivity, our efficiency, and our bottom line.

We have a gym at our North Carolina headquarters open to employees 24/7. This is a great facility that gets used round the clock, but it doesn’t do much for our employees in Ireland, Portugal, or Panama. Wellness and well-being opportunities for all of our employees are vital to our success, so we have to find ways to make our programs available to everybody, regardless of where they are.

One way we do that is through incentives and reimbursements. Another is through a quarterly, team-based wellness challenge.

One team might consist of four employees who eat lunch together every day. Another may be four employees spread across four different nations. Where they live, work, or happen to be does not matter. Everyone has the opportunity to participate and be rewarded for their efforts to stay healthy.

Think beyond the walls

By making the promise that we’ll always provide access to the tools, our employees know that we’re supporting them regardless of where they are in the world.

“Workplace” is a word of many meanings. It’s something no longer confined to physical office space. So as an employer, your employee support structure can’t favor the employees who report for duty within the walls.

If you’re in business today, you probably have employees that work outside the office. Whether they work from home or half way around the world, it’s in your best interest to make sure that they have access to the benefits and support they need to be as productive, happy, and healthy as possible.