Within the past year, many landmark changes have been made to HR policies in the U.S. in order to accommodate a new, remote workforce. Across many industries, this shift has come as a kind of experiment—a never-before attempted trial-by-fire necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the results of this trial are clear: remote work leads to greater levels of productivity within the workforce. What this means is that while workers are likely to return to the office once pandemic safety standards have been met, the prevailing architecture of HR policy will maintain a hybrid approach to remote and in-office work.
HR expert Sandy Sherman expects that the numerous HR policies and practices impacted by the pandemic will not return to the way they were pre-COVID. For instance, while many organizations leveraged remote processes for interviews and onboarding prior to COVID-19, the pandemic required these processes to become fully remote. For those that did so successfully, these practices will likely continue at higher levels than pre-COVID. Potential candidates will not necessarily be required to report to the office for an interview, but rather will be able to request a meeting over a video conferencing platform like Zoom or Google Meet. In terms of relocation, as AINS senior account manager Paul Bauman points out, “local states and cities may even start to use tax policies to create incentives for individual employees to relocate to their jurisdictions, rather than giving tax credits solely to companies who relocate.”
Another area where Sherman sees lasting change is within employee engagement. Making employees feel “valued, heard, and a sense of belonging” is important to the success of any business, and establishing mechanisms to support and engage employees “regardless of their work location” is key. The University of California, Irvine published a list of employee engagement activities and resources companies can undertake to facilitate company morale. These include surveys, virtual “coffee chats,” and extracurricular activities such as “a book club, a multi-player online tournament, or just an internal social network.” At AINS, we engage and celebrate employee success through company-wide surveys and newsletters, as well as virtual happy hours and events.
Policies that were modified to “address technology support, office supplies, and work schedules” of remote workers will likely be examined and modified to support an ongoing hybrid workforce. Additional sustained areas of HR focus to optimize the success of a hybrid workforce include:
- clear performance management guidelines on communicating work expectations, monitoring work, and outcomes;
- “knowledge sharing and collaboration, no matter where [employees] are working from”;
- “enhanced training to equip supervisors with the skills required to manage a hybrid workforce”;
- flexible telework-accommodating schedules; and
- “handling of PII and computer security.”
Inevitably, remote work requires robust IT infrastructure in order to be sustainable, with the crux of this responsibility falling to the IT departments of organizations.
The new reliance on technology to support remote work means acquiring robust and comprehensive software is a must. As Sherman states, HR-related solutions must reflect customers’ requirements and workflows. eCase HR does this by “eliminating the need for manual handoffs, signatures, and faxing” through automated workflows. Additionally, eCase’s electronic repository for documents allows users to access and reference documents, regardless of location. A successful HR solution must also be able to integrate with core systems such as payroll, time and attendance, and more. eCase APIs and integrations ensure that the full scope of HR processes can be accessed and carried out within the platform.
The main benefit of a robust HR software solution like eCase, says Sherman, is the reporting capability that provides “visibility into work status” as well as “information that supervisors can use and share with leadership to make well-informed business decisions.” In employee and labor relations, for instance, the user can pull reports on grievances for a single employee, manager, or department, leading to decisions that reflect the long-term goals of the company.
There are multiple benefits to the new status quo of a hybrid workforce that many businesses have to look forward to. And while there used to be pushback against work done “outside of the formal office setting, says Sherman, “the resilience and dedication of both management and employees [through the pandemic] allowed them to adjust to this change and demonstrate that remote work does work and can work very well.” The key is implementing the right policies, tools, and technology to support work and streamline processes, regardless of location.
At AINS, we are happy to support our customers in local, federal, and commercial spaces as they transition to support a hybrid workforce. To learn more about how eCase HR and our suite of COTS apps can help your company achieve its HR goals, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or request a demo today.