Article by: Evan Farren, Senior Recruitment Consultant, The Panel
The move towards remote working is something that has been gradually increasing in a number of sectors over the last few years, but many were still slow to implement this change. However, due to the covid-19 pandemic the shift to remote working happened overnight. This left HR departments franticly trying to manage employee productivity and wellbeing while they were suddenly working from hundreds of different locations.
Our recent Poll
Over the last few months, the workforce has adapted – many organisations have seen that location does not influence team productivity, and employees are enjoying the new aspect of flexibility and improved work life balance gained from remote working. In a recent Poll run by The Panel on LinkedIn, we found that 92% of people who took part are keen to maintain remote working at least some of the time going forward.
It is likely that more flexible working arrangements and improved remote working policies will be a lasting side effect of the covid-19 pandemic. This will bring both new challenges and opportunities for HR departments.
HR areas likely to grow
We are bound to see growth within certain areas of HR – Employee Engagement, Wellbeing and Culture. They will be on the minds of HR departments everywhere as we adjust to more permanent remote working offerings. New employee experience strategies will be essential, as will updated policies and training on effectively managing and engaging a remote workforce. We will see the creation of new positions within HR departments with a focus on policies around remote working and building and maintaining an integrated and inclusive organisational culture across remote teams.
We have already seen some organisations reducing their physical footprint by downsizing offices or not renewing leases. With office spaces reduced, the number of people able to use the office at any given time will be impacted. HR will ultimately play a huge part in deciding who can use the office, when they can use it and how that will look. There will undoubtedly be juggling between those who want/need to use the office 5 days a week and those who want to use it much less often. Striking the right balance will be important from the outset. We may also see an increase in HR Compliance/Safety positions as there will need to be someone dedicated to covid-19 guidelines and policies and ensuring these are compliant, constantly reviewed and implemented effectively.
Impact on candidate pool
A more remote workforce will also mean a larger pool of candidates when recruiting. If employees are no longer required to commute to the office every single day, hiring will not be quite so restricted by physical location. In our experience, candidates are happy to consider much longer commutes if they are only expected in the office once or twice per week.
While this will open up the pool of candidates, it will also open the number of companies available to candidates who are job hunting. HR Teams will have to come up with new and interesting ways to become market leaders and attract and retain top talent as offerings such as remote working will no longer be a USP and flashy tech offices may no longer hold the attraction they once did.
Return to the office
While most employees want to keep an aspect of working from home, it will be essential to get back into the office even a day or two a week in the long term. Humans thrive on relationships, and it will be important to be physically present from time to time to really nurture those. We learn from watching and listening to our peers and seniors as much as we do from training – employees at all levels will need to be in the office sometimes so they can continue to learn and progress their careers.
Covid-19 has been the cause of the biggest and quickest change our workforce has seen in decades. HR departments now have the particularly important task of managing this change and defining what our workforce will look like going forward.