The COVID-19 pandemic did not create remote work processes, but it did move this form of labor into the mainstream. Now, HR professionals across industries are attempting to understand what remote work means in terms of labor protections, unions, and the policies they have long held to support worker interests.
Moving forward, HR departments ask what the future of labor protection will look like and what the evolving needs will be for a remote workforce. HR managers can successfully transition for the future of labor protection in a remote world, but it will take understanding and preparation.
Explore these topics and how you can best support employees through a changing global economy.
What will the future of labor protection look like?
Remote work brings with it a host of concerns that were not present in many physical offices. These range from everything from diverse child care needs to the mental health impact of isolation. At the same time, many are questioning what the role of labor unions will play in this rapidly changing marketplace.
HR departments must stay on top of these evolutions to ensure a working environment that truly supports their employees. Facing the trends that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about means juggling technology with employee flexibility.
That said, the future of labor protection will likely fall along the following lines:
- Ongoing support for remote workers
- Increasing tech use in HR roles
- Expansive and diverse union collaboration
The Central Bank in South Africa has estimated that the economy contracted about 8% throughout the pandemic in 2020. In response, labor unions are playing a key role in negotiating the continued benefits for displaced and struggling workers. This has given us examples of what the future of labor protection will look like: a union-supported, tech-focused economy of remote and physical laborers.
HR’s role in this future is one both of coordination and communication, giving workers wherever they are the information and resources they need to succeed.
The needs of a remote workforce
The needs of the modern workforce have evolved to includes a more pressing focus on labor relations, safety, and mental health. As remote workers juggle a displaced work-life balance, child care needs, and growing concerns that come with isolation, HR departments must be at the front lines of support for these workers.
Understanding these needs is essential for the future of labor protection. Here are the details regarding how HR can best support laborers now and in the future:
1. Labor Relations Support
A labor relations support specialist is a growing role within the field of Human Resources that can help juggle the needs of remote workers. In the ongoing efforts to find resources for a variety of displaced workforces, labor unions play an essential role. As a go-between, HR teams can work with unions to support mutually beneficial decisions.
For example, the right to disconnect will be a vital labor protection as remote work continues to play a substantive role in our economy. HR teams and labor relations specialists can coordinate the specifics of how tech platforms can be used to monitor employees and guarantee their right to disconnect.
2. Continuous Safety Training
Additionally, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of safety training not just in the workplace but across digital networks as well. For remote workers, this includes protecting their personal data as well as their health and wellbeing.
Even with remote work, issues that arise from sedentary lifestyles and poor ergonomic setups can end up impacting your company’s bottom line. This requires the kind of safety training that can support a remote workforce by giving them the tips and tools they need to live a healthy life while working from home.
Protecting labor means protecting laborers, and data has come to be an important part of that. Continuous safety training should also include expansive cybersecurity modules. With the education necessary to support a safe digital environment, remote workers will be less at risk.
3. Expansive Mental Health Resources
Long before the pandemic, surveys found that a majority of workers experienced stress at work. These days, the added stress of an uncertain economy and physical isolation has impacted the mental health of millions across the world. Because of this, HR teams need the strategies and resources to support workers through these challenges.
First, people and self-awareness skills will allow for the kinds of empathy and communication you need to handle situations delicately. Then, work-supported mental health awareness programs and local care facility referrals can make a big difference for safe remote work.
By working with your team to provide these pressing needs of any remote workforce, HR departments can provide the labor protections that are already evolving at a legislative level. Apply them now and use the kind of technology that can take your HR strategy into the future.
How HR managers can transition in a remote world
The broad acceptance of remote work in the modern world means unions and governments alike will act to install more flexible labor protections. These will likely include elements such as the right to work remotely for compatible companies as well as the right to disconnect.
By getting ahead of any coming legislation and advancing your team’s ability to connect and grow at a digital level through tech platforms, you can better transition. The future of labor protection means labor relations support, continuous safety training, and expansive mental health resources. Build all of these into your current tech and workflow stack to ensure that no worker gets left behind.
Noah Rue is a journalist and content writer from Boise, Idaho, US. He is fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn’t searching out his next great writing opportunity, Noah likes to shut off his devices and head to the mountains to disconnect.
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