HR Tech

Transparency in a remote world

Organisational transparency has evolved in recent years and needs to adapt further for a remote first world.
Ian Turnpenny
4 min read

Transparency in a remote world

Organisational transparency has been talked about for years. 

Companies have long been encouraged to open up a little, share company financials, hold regular town halls and drive more inclusive cultures. At the extreme we had companies adopting principles of radical transparency, where salary details were openly available for all to see. That one never quite seemed to take off, surprising.

Transparency can be an agent of change and influence.

A manager is less inclined to make a biased decision if the mechanics and outcome of that decision are open for all to see - or they would at least think twice about it. Over time, the theory goes, incrementalism should yield a more purposeful and aligned organisation. Transparency should be a self correcting mechanism. 

All well and good. But how has this been impacted by the shift to remote?

A Remote First World

Remote teams lack the single node of an office or physical space so will always miss out on in person chatter, serendipity and gossip - an often key driver in transparency and information sharing.

Remote workers, given their organisational isolation, are also more inclined to invest in information discovery to try and understand their colleagues, teams and Org better. So it would seem they are prepared to step up and go the extra mile. How can businesses facilitating this?

  1. Regular one on ones and team check-ins. 
  2. Online team social activities
  3. A proactive and visual onboarding experience
  4. Workflow tools to enable asynchronous working 
  5. NPS and pulse surveys to monitor well being and culture

These are all working to some extent but there is still a long way to go. As organisations expand with remote teams and add more and more location nodes, organisational complexity can expand quickly. Leadership and HR need to work hard to create visible and open cultures as well as provide transparency where it can add value.

The Meta Org

No, not that one. A meta org enables all employees to easily discover and visualize key organisational metrics as well as insight into their colleagues and employees.

This could take the form of:

  1. Sales targets and growth metrics - basic financial profitability data and runway disclosure. Align all staff on corporate targets and goals
  2. Indexed and searchable People Directories so each employee can tell their story and share their culture (which is often unique in a remote world)
  3. Skills Analysis and taxonomies, so team leaders can find the right person for the right project at the right time and encourage cross departmental/team collaboration. 
  4. Open access to L&D tools, so people can share their certifications, training needs and mentoring appetite - a key to current employee satisfaction is their understanding of their future aspirations and goals. 
  5. Shared data points around talent mobility and career development - as above.

Review systems and OKRs work well in assessing an employee's success in their current role and team. However, key data points and takeaways are often closed away within the confines of the manager and HR, and not openly shared across the org. 

A system to label review summaries and data points as Private, Team Related, or Public Domain, could help an org build a meta map of opportunities, skills advancements, retention data points and hiring planning. 

Remote individuals would gain more context within their org and maximize their potential.

HRIS Evolution 

Lots to go after there - and for sure the HRIS space needs to adapt and integrate fully with the tools that enable this shift. 

One ways is to look at the HRIS in the following layers:

Compliance Layer

Core personal data, salary, references, documents etc. The classic, closed and secure HRIS

Engagement Layer

Review cycles, OKRs, pulse surveys and NPSs. Each with outputs that could provide data to the Org Discovery layer. 

Discovery Layer 

Permission controlled layer of company and people data - a visual story for your organisation that all employees can benefit from and contribute to. More than a simple intranet or share doc, a structured data tool that evolves as employees do.

Interesting times ahead in the HR tech space! 

For more articles by Ian