Every organization, large or small, was forced to change its operations due to the coronavirus pandemic. While there are several conversations about things going back to “normal,” it’s crucial to recognize that we are living in the new normal. Remote working and shifts in working hours are the reality for employees and employers. For HR pros, finding new ways to manage employees while keeping them safe during the COVID-19 crisis is the biggest challenge. Here are 5 ways the HR work environment will change.
Remote Working Will Form Part of Future Employment
As businesses locked down, remote working became a solace for employers and employees. What was once a working style designated for gig-economy workers is now the working life for millions in the United States. While the move may have been temporary, many businesses may continue to operate remotely, at least part-time, to create hybrid employment structures.
Fortunately, there are plenty of technological improvements that make working from home easy. However, HR departments need to collaborate with finance and IT departments to create new rules for employment. Remote working presents several challenges and questions for the HR department.
- What are the new job descriptions for part-time or full-time remote workers?
- How can you monitor remote employees? Before COVID-19, HR teams could monitor people physically and use office resources such as cameras to address specific conflicts. Spying on employees is no longer an option.
- What jobs can be done from home, and which cannot? It's also harder for the HR team to refute an employee’s plea to work from home, especially after proving that it’s possible during the pandemic.
- How will HR define new rules about meeting schedules, deadlines, and communication policies?
- What are the rules on checking in on remote workers and addressing stress issues they’re facing while working from home? It’s essential to provide remote workers with adequate emotional and mental support, especially now that they’re bearing family and work stresses in the same environment.
- Who will bear the costs of remote working tools such as software, internet, and devices? How will the company recover these devices after an employee resigns or gets fired?
Training Employees to Work From Home
Guiding workers who suddenly shifted their work environment is crucial to boost productivity. A work-at-home guide can address some of the complexities of working and living in the same environment.
Some tips for working from home include:
Setting up your physical working space: Advise employees to find a suitable location in their home to work. A good working space should have good lighting, adequate storage, comfortable furniture, secure storage, and minimal distractions. HR should provide direction for the purchase of equipment required for remote working.
Set up your virtual workspace: The first step is to ensure you have a fast and reliable internet connection. Using VPNs and passwords is also vital to protect software and documents. Involving the IT team in this step is critical. Employees can also use mobile apps as an alternative to desktop whenever possible.
Use video calls for collaboration: Communicating through video calls is essential for employee engagement and better understanding. However, advise employees to prepare for meetings by clearing all distractions and taking calls in quiet spaces. It’s also essential to protect privacy by switching off calls after meetings. Provide clear guidelines for setting up cameras and framing during the meeting for clear calls.
Encourage open communication: Check-in on employees daily and encourage colleagues also to call and text each other. The goal is to engage each employee and check on their well-being. During meetings, encourage people to pause and allow others to speak and monitor people not participating.
Ensure inclusive Meetings: Remember to include all team members, including those with disabilities. Use live captions and digital canvases to brainstorm. Remember to advise on software that is inclusive for all.
Switch availability schedules: Collaborate with all staff to set new working hours. Ensure that each remote worker has adequate time to handle their work and manage other responsibilities at home. Also, set clear boundaries to ensure that every employee has adequate time to decompress.
Advice on well-being: Encourage all workers to take time and relax, go outside for walks and exercise, eat healthily, and talk to you for overall health.
Lead by example: As you encourage other employees to take care of themselves, remember to lead by example by being available during working hours, and taking time to address their concerns. Be curious and empathetic in your interactions, and remember to manage expectations carefully.
With current social distancing measures, organizing face-to-face interviews may off the table for a while. HR teams managing recruitment will increasingly use virtual meetings to interview candidates before hiring. Video meetings are better than phone calls because people can see each other, which is essential, especially for reading facial expressions.
Any face-to-face meetings will require thorough preparation, temperature checks, disinfection of surfaces, face masks, and regular sanitizing. No handshakes, and preferably, zero paperwork is essential to reduce transmission. It may be hard to adjust culture, especially in terms of handshakes and paperwork during interviews, but changing the norm is necessary.
However, it’s essential to remain cautious when laying off workers. Retaining talent is essential for business growth. A furlough may be advantageous, especially because it allows employers to assist workers through benefits. HR personnel may also turn to temporary contracts to keep business afloat while managing costs.
In all matters, HR officials and employers need to remain compliant. There are several pitfalls employers and HR teams need to look out for when drafting remote working policies.
- How do you determine how many hours remote workers are available? If you pay workers by the hour, you need to address overtime issues and ensure that the compensation is just under FLSA.
- How do you provide support for caregivers and people with disabilities to avoid discrimination?
- How do you provide safety for remote workers? What health and safety standards should you include in your remote work policy?
- How do you manage cybersecurity for employees working from home?
- What should remote workers do in case of emergencies, power outages, or disruptive weather?
At Platinum Group, we offer modern and efficient solutions for your HR, accounting, and payroll. Our cloud-based payroll system has essential tools to help you hire, onboard, and manage employees remotely.
For an in-depth view on COVID-19 and its implications on the HR department, visit out COVID-19 webinar series today.