Coming out of the pandemic, HR teams are dealing with a host of new responsibilities around enabling flexible working. Some businesses have even built new teams just to focus on this workplace change.
HR are on the front lines building trust and supporting employees wherever they’re working It’s HR who will help develop and implement flexible working policies and manage any shifts in how companies use their office space.
So what issues must HR departments face with flexible working?
Health and wellbeing
HR are championing health and wellbeing on behalf of the C-suite, knowing it will help retain current employees and attract new talent. Teams are expected to be proactive about employee mental health before it has a negative impact on productivity, and to encourage a wider culture of wellbeing. HR need to protect staff’s continued access to offices, for staff who benefit medically or mentally from using the office. Most importantly, HR have to strip the taboo around health and wellbeing by openly discussing it as part of company culture to make it easier to address.
Where HR have had a responsibility to monitor productivity in the office, now the working hours of an employee – regardless of location – need to be optimized and respected. Promoting a work/life balance is part of this – productivity at the expense of burnout cannot be considered real, sustainable productivity. In France and Portugal, laws have even been put in place making it illegal for employers to contact staff after hours. Going forward, setting boundaries on flexible working parameters will be key.
Developing talent in an unpredictable job market is a real challenge for HR. The pandemic changes many businesses, and with that, teams had to shift their responsibilities. This means many workers have taken on new roles in the past two years, while others want to expand their skillsets as they look for advancement opportunities. Job roles are an issue HR and line managers have to work together on, for example helping employees see how roles reflect purpose, not just a list of responsibilities. Some HR leaders recommend working with staff to rewrite their job descriptions to better show this.
Flexible work settings raise questions about company culture. Does the pre-pandemic culture still align with any workforce changes? Was the company culture too reliant on a shared location and less on the employee attitude? HR staff are on the front lines investigating these concerns. With greater emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) across all businesses, HR teams are also focusing on building a culture that includes a sense of belonging, regardless of where they carry out their duties.
The role of technology
With all of these challenges, HR teams require technology that is up to the task. Technology that supports remote and flexible working provides a centralized location for all employee requests. This enhances visibility of employee needs so HR and line managers can work together better, as well as collect data about who’s working where, that they can share with the C suite. This data can be mined for insights that allow HR to take a more prominent role in policy setting.
Most importantly, HR technology should be as flexible as your work policies. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the unexpected can happen. So being prepared with the right technology will future-proof your business and keep HR departments motivated no matter what comes next.