Ep 251: How to Make Work Human When We’re Leading Remote Teams

We’ve spent the past several months supporting our teams who are dispersed and working from home due to the coronavirus. HR leaders have been faced with how we train employees who have never worked remotely, how we ensure they have the resources they need to do their jobs from home, how we can help them be productive – and how we can keep the “human” in human resources when everything we do has gone virtual. I talked with Derek Irvine, Senior Vice President of Workhuman, the world’s fastest-growing social recognition and continuous performance management platform.

Episode 251 – How to Make Work Human When We’re Leading Remote Teams with Derek Irvine (@DerekIrvine)

I asked Derek about his new book Making Work Human: How Human-Centered Companies are Changing the Future of Work and the World. He said the question is: “Do we have enough human connection happening between people? Human moments in the workplace still matter a lot.”

Research shows that businesses that behave in more human-centered ways thrive more than those that don’t. - @DerekIrvine #podcast #remotework Click To Tweet

I think COVID gave us a little bit of a gift – the opportunity to engage in considerable change. We can embrace a human-oriented approach to the workforce in a way we’ve never been able to before. Derek said, “when you think about how leaders communicate, it’s the town hall meeting, the all-hands company meetings. We must be able to trust the humans that work in our organizations and give them a place or a platform where they can communicate about the things that are happening with each other. We should allow employees access to each other; it doesn’t always have to be leaders to employees.” 

While it seems like tech makes our work less human, I asked Derek about the Workhuman platform and how the information can help us be more compassionate and human with remote employees. He said that “early in the timeline of COVID, we were able to see as data points the messages that employees were exchanging with each other. In the early stages, it was stress, resilience, flexibility. In more recent months, the data points have been more about support, friendship, connection. This kind of data gives leaders of organizations information to focus on the areas their employees care about right now.”

Feedback Is Essential for Your Remote Workforce 

When it comes to career and skills development, Derek explained that “Feedback must begin with positivity; we must earn our employees trust to receive the other messages. You build that trust by building a genuine human connection between employees and those who are conducting performance reviews.”

Right now, things are stressful and our company leaders are looking for ways to connect with our teams. Where do we start? Derek said that he recommends having three things in mind every week: opportunities to thank people, seek genuine authentic interest, and celebrate achievements together – moments that matter, not just work-related moments. Think birthdays, anniversaries, certifications, deadlines. It’s those moments in life that make us human and connecting this way is so valuable for building these channels of trust with our teams.

We have made a significant shift in how we work with a new remote workforce, and it’s challenging to make this experience uniquely human while helping our dispersed workforce be productive. Remote work has become a vital part of a company’s operations and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to get advice from Derek Irvine on making work human for a dispersed workforce.

Thank you for joining the Workology Podcast sponsored by Workology. This podcast is for the disruptive workplace leader who’s tired of the status quo. 

Connect with Derek Irvine.



Derek Irvine on LinkedIn

Derek on Twitter


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Making Work Human: How Human-Centered Companies are Changing the Future of Work and the World

Ep 248: How to Help Remote Teams Be Productive

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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