Reset & Thrive Your Business Part SEVEN

Reset & Thrive Your Business

How HR Can Facilitate Agile Work

Reset & Thrive Your Business - Part SEVEN - How HR can Facilitate Agile Work

In recent months, businesses have experienced unprecedented disruption. The shift to working from home happened at breakneck speed, causing massive disorientation that heavily impacted communication, work habits, and more. While IT teams and leadership have often been in the spotlight for helping employees adjust, HR managers are under a similar level of stress to help everybody adapt.

HR isn’t just dealing with a new work environment; they’re also coping with different work mentalities. At the same time, they need to work to implement new policies without being able to see how employees are working or how their policies are impacting employees. Months after the shift to remote work took place, many HR teams are beginning to understand how to help employees and manage any changes in their responsibilities.

The adjustment took quite a long time – take a moment to remember how your HR team and organization struggled throughout that adjustment period. You don’t want to be caught off-guard like that again. Therefore, HR needs to start thinking ahead regarding how the company and employees stay connected and digitally engaged. Will employees continue to work from home throughout 2020? Is there a chance they will return to the office in 2021? Will remote work become a new mainstay?

A lot is uncertain at the moment, but HR needs to start planning for various scenarios immediately. Let’s take a closer look at a few important areas of the employee experience to consider, no matter where you stand in regard to reopening.

Safety Will Remain a Top Concern

Safety should be the foremost concern for HR teams going forward, whether they plan to have their team return to the office or stay at home. Both working from home and coming to the office have their own sets of risks, and HR should take both seriously. For teams that are planning to return to the office, there are many precautions to consider. HR teams are asking a lot of questions:

  • How often should we decontaminate frequently touched surfaces?
  • Can our employees communicate easily from a distance?
  • Is our HVAC system capable of keeping employees safe from airborne particles?
  • How will we enforce and encourage social distancing?
  • Will there be PPE available for employees within the office?

The answers to these questions aren’t immediately clear. It’s best to go above and beyond the recommendations set by health authorities in your country to keep your employees as safe and confident as possible.

If returning is off the table for some of your teams, keep their mental health top of mind. Poor mental health can drain employees, making them susceptible to various health concerns. Remind them of mental health services that are available or provide additional incentives such as virtual meditation and mindfulness classes. This won’t just help others stay safe and healthy – it will improve productivity and the employee experience.

Support Productivity

HR plays a special part in ensuring that employees are able to collaborate and work effectively. It may be IT’s job to make sure that employees can access, install, and use collaborative technologies – but part of the responsibility to ensure employees are using the technology falls onto HR. Make sure that employees have everything they need to communicate and collaborate amongst each other, whether it’s video conferencing solutions or communication platforms like Microsoft Teams or SharePoint.

Modern communication and collaboration tools such as Teams are not only adding a great value to the overall business, but also building great teams and forming an outstanding business culture. At SoftwareONE going the extra mile and serving our customers with high-quality services is our DNA. In doing so we very early created our own Future Workplace enabling our employees to fully embrace the benefit modern collaboration brings. And that even works within our HR department. Where we already used Teams before, the pandemic and the changed working environment helped us to take advantage of all the additional features Microsoft 365 has to offer. Just to mention some examples: Our Teams usage increased as we learned how quickly we could turn our 1:1 meetings into virtual brainstorming sessions using the whiteboard function within Teams to picture our ideas and activities. I personally found a fantastic way to better organize my working day with valuable insights on my weekly behavior delivered through MyAnalytics. I now much better understand where to block my focus time to concentrate on important business tasks. And even the hiring process was accelerated through Teams as we now share internal notes from various interviews sessions directly to enable dynamic collaboration.

As you can see: flexible working options are a great asset for every company. However, prepare for the fact that employees may not be able to work at the same pace despite your best efforts. Also, work with leadership and the IT department to pinpoint business critical areas that cannot sustain a significant loss of employee productivity, and make sure you have the capabilities to replace or help these essential roles and business functions.

Be Adaptable As You Move Forward

Take a coaching, democratic approach to helping your employees adapt to working from home. Let’s be honest – no single person or even team has all of the answers to helping employees through this challenging time. For that reason, it’s best to solicit help straight from the source – meaning your employees.

Reach out to both remote and in-office employees regularly to gauge their feelings about your work environment. For instance, in-office employees may want more frequent cleanings, or fear that others are not adhering to important safety guidelines. On the other hand, large swaths of your remote employees may experience issues with technology or begin to feel disconnected to the rest of the team. Keep an eye out for any changes you can make that will help employees feel safe and valued.

Large enterprises should also solicit feedback from their HR teams around the globe and give HR teams more power over their local team. Political and social environments are shifting rapidly by region – the concerns felt by an English person may not be felt by a person in the United States, and vice versa. Even within a region like the United States, employee attitudes can vary widely based on geographic region. For that reason, it’s best to let a local leader study their own environment and take control, as they will have a better idea of what their employees need in this changing time.

Final Thoughts

Most businesses weren’t prepared to shift to working from home. But, due to the fact that IT, leadership, and HR teams worked hard to create an environment where everyone can work effectively from home, it hasn’t been easy. And their work isn’t finished just yet.

As your work from home environment begins to stabilize, start thinking about the future. Going back to the office could backfire if the right precautions aren’t taken, but staying at home without addressing ongoing concerns has its own drawbacks. The right choice won’t be the same for every organization everywhere. However, by keeping a pulse on your employees and checking in on them regularly, you can ensure they’re able to work at their fullest potential.

With an established Future Workplace culture we are not only an expert to address with all technical matters on how to implement and enable a future-proof infrastructure; we really know how flexible work works as this is what we are delivering to our workforce across the globe. Let us help you to define your individual Future Workplace journey and how to best set the pace for your new Status Quo. Get in touch to meet our Advisory experts and learn more about our offerings.

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  • User Productivity, Reset and Thrive, Life at SoftwareONE
  • HR, People enablement

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Author

Martijn Van Dort

Global Head of People & Culture

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