With millions of Americans required to self-quarantine or shelter at home, thousands of companies of all sizes and industries have been affected. From travel restrictions and remote work, to furloughs and layoffs, life has changed drastically and rapidly.
Even after this crisis ends, it’s likely that social distancing will have a lasting impact – and it may permanently alter the way people work. As employers are starting to think about what a post-COVID-19 workforce means to them, here are a few key considerations:
The Growing Trend Toward Remote Work
While remote work has accelerated at an unprecedented pace due to COVID-19, it has been a growing trend for some time. As reported by Newsday, there was a 159 percent increase in working from home (WFH) between 2005 and 2019, as employers sought to meet employee preferences as well as benefit their businesses’ bottom lines.
- From every crisis comes some good. The long-term benefits of the current pandemic may include more flexibility and freedom for workers, as today’s WFH arrangements prove feasible on a long-term or consistent basis for many organizations and jobs.
- On every organizational level, people are becoming more tech-savvy. Use of videoconferencing, chat rooms, and other WFH tools – previously a nice bonus or convenient alternative – is now the norm.
Leveraging Technology in a Remote Environment
Companies are now looking to technology for ways to communicate with, pay, and manage their employees. This is a transformative time for WFH methods that could stay with society for the long term.
- Not surprisingly, in recent weeks, there has been a new base of users and a rapid rise among existing users of virtual communication tools. Many companies have started using Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom for the first time.
- HRIS Technology is being optimized to help companies remain compliant, manage employee data, and process payroll and tax changes. View our Technology Resources page for examples of how you can utilize your HRIS System during this time.
- This is not the first time remote communication tools have seen a spike in demand. It happened, for instance, after 9/11 and the SARS outbreak. But the scale of disruptions caused by COVID-19 is truly unprecedented and is expected to fundamentally change user behavior toward remote work.
Guide Your Team through This Crisis
Now more than ever, employees are looking to their leaders to take actions that protect them, their families, and their company.
- Consider how COVID-19 impacts everyone – if not physically, then emotionally, psychologically, or financially. Seek out as much factual and helpful information as possible from reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and remind employees of benefits available through the Company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). If you don’t currently offer an EAP, talk with your broker about this optional benefit that will likely serve your employees, and your company, well during this time.
- Review your pandemic illness, paid time off and sick leave policies. First and foremost, help your employees minimize their risk of infection. Ensure you have updated policies that address new federal and state (if applicable) leave laws, such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. A review of your policies can help you enable them to do the right thing and stay home if they don’t feel well.
- Communicate openly. Share the reasons behind any business changes or decisions made in light of this crisis. Let employees know steps the company is taking to keep them safe as workplaces reopen. Listen to people’s feedback, and convey a positive, reassuring “we’ll get through this together” message. With thoughtful leadership, your people and your business will eventually return to a new and better normal.
In addition to these important considerations, HR Works has also put together a list of steps employers should be taking, as well as a downloadable return to work checklist to help as they plan to reopen their workforce following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like many other companies, HR Works has also been operating 100 percent remotely – but our focus has not wavered. We remain committed to our clients and their current needs. We’re here to support you in any way we can, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us. #InThisTogether #HRWorksForYou
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