In our current lockdown moment, most companies are being forced to quickly set up new policies for employees working remotely. This reshuffle presents both opportunities and obstacles for employees and companies alike. 

Right now, companies and their Human Resources (HR) departments are helping their employees transition from the office environment to working remotely. HR departments everywhere are writing up new policies, or providing their employees with support by sending items and packages that they may need: a laptop, monitor, or phone to use at home. Employers are exploring new avenues to reach their employees and supply them with what they need in order to get work done. 

HR’s supporting role has also expanded. Previously, HR was only ever focused on employees inside the workplace. But now, HR is assisting almost every employee who is building a home office. To make the remote work experience as painless as possible, HR teams need to have the mental and physical wellness of each employee in mind. This is actually something HR has always been focused on, but it was never that significant to an employee until now. This situation is a great testament to the importance of HR, as we need to support both employees and leadership in creating a productive, safe and healthy work environment for our companies.

With that said, companies should expect changes when everything returns to “normal.” What sort of changes? 

Employees may want to take further advantage of work-from-home policies. The new norm could very well become working remotely at least once a week as part of wellness programs. Pre-COVID-19, research showed that many Americans still went  to work even when sick. When we return, this may not be the case; with the memories of needing to “flatten the curve” still fresh, they may want to stay away, and spare coworkers from getting sick.

Overall, mindsets will probably change after this pandemic. We’re most likely going to see a shift in priorities. On top of work productivity, companies and employees alike will focus on their employees’ wellbeing; if not for themselves, then for the greater good of their teammates.

At the heart of it, whether companies are putting in place new policies or updating them with regards to their people now working remotely, management needs to ensure that whatever adjustments they make do not stifle the growth of the company in the future. 

Bottom line: It’s important that an organization’s structure reflects a level of trust between the employers and employees. I believe our company, Opsani, has that level of trust already. But companies who normally do not have flexible hours, and/or have this desperate need to see their employees in an office setting in order to trust they are working? Well, they will have to change. 

Working remotely inherently requires letting go of a measure of control, since you can’t see what everyone is doing. You can only trust that your employees are indeed doing their best at whatever they are working on.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly shifted the working environment in a very dynamic way. Transitioning from an office-based work structure to a remote set-up is a complicated endeavor even for the most experienced HR teams.

Transforming HR processes, and creating and laying out HR programs to meet the unique remote working requirements often takes months. But with the ongoing pandemic and its ramifications, companies simply don’t have the luxury of a long transformation process.

HR and employees need to move fast and work together to discover what works, what doesn’t work, and where that delicate compromise is that will ensure a productive remote working environment. It’s not going to be a perfect set-up at first. They just have to make sure it works and constantly fine-tune their configurations as they go along.