The immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global business was the closure of offices (and other working environments) and the instant need for home working solutions.
With the exceptions of only a handful of countries, national lockdowns have been a trade hurdle that all business leaders have had to learn to leap.
One of the main concerns for businesses going forward, and in particular HR Managers, is how to manage and support hidden staff members that exist behind closed doors in remote locations (please see HR Software for your business for more HR information).
We are going to look at how home working will impact the role of HR Managers both now and in the future.
Remote working requests
Employers value a controlled working environment because the company has direct influence over working conditions. Where employees are tasked with completing their work from an environment that is not under the direct control of the employer, support is harder to deliver and environmental changes that may benefit workflow and output are more difficult to implement.
That is where HR Managers must be prepared to consider home working requests. Where the staff member is content in a home working environment, and where the company is satisfied that the worker can complete tasks to a high standard at home, productivity may benefit from a flexible approach to work locations. The thinking here is that if a situation is working well, forcing the employee to come back to work may not be the best idea.
Maintaining the obligations owed to the employee by the company
HR Managers should be aware that staff still require support despite not being physically present in the workplace. This could mean that the HR Manager may wish to organise health and safety check-ups, as well as taking the time – on a regular basis – to ensure that all staff members are well equipped with the tools they need to complete their tasks.
Reasonable home working adjustments may also be required to support staff who may find that a disability is affecting their performance when working from home.
What about insurance policies?
HR Managers may wish to take into account that insurance policies could become an issue where staff are using company equipment at home. For example, if a business were to equip a worker with a laptop, and if that laptop were to fall and break, would the employee be expected to claim for the item on their home insurance? Was the employee told that they should consider adding expensive work items to their insurance policy? Or would the company simply pick up the bill? All of these considerations must be formally addressed to avoid foreseeable and undesirable situations.
Creating an inclusive working environment that supports the needs of all staff is a mainstay of HR. Whether staff work in a controlled group environment or whether they work from home, HR Managers must learn to adopt procedures that keep lines of communication open and adequately deal with emerging queries and issues.
HR Future Staff Writer, UK