Business was completely streamlined in the pre-pandemic times.

People used to come to the workplace during work hours and the HR manager had complete mastery over the art of employee engagement as well as providing an excellent employee experience. But the last one year and more transformed the workplace completely. People started working remotely instead of coming to the workplace to arrest the contagion. They took some time to settle into this routine but later, they started enjoying it. There was a surprising increase in productivity.

However, the advantages of the physical workplace cannot be ruled out completely and surveys show that although people now enjoy working remotely, they also want to spend some of their working hours at the workplace. This is prompting organizations to contemplate a hybrid workplace that would involve a mix of working from home and coming to the workplace. It would be a win-win combination for both the organization and the employees. And it would also mean that the HR manager would now have a much more important role to play; derive innovative methods to keep the employees engaged, while enhancing employee experience too.

 

Deciding the time-table

HR would need to decide if all the employees or only a certain percentage of the workforce would need to attend physical office part of their time. This decision can be based on the nature of work; while IT team can work from anywhere, the manufacturing team’s presence at the workplace is indispensable. Also, the attendance at the workplace can be employer-driven, employee-driven or need-based.

 

Ensuring health and wellbeing

There is a great deal of uncertainty regarding the pandemic and the HR would need to ensure the good health of the employees coming to the workplace. Also, since work-from-home results in social isolation, employees need to be kept engaged in a variety of activities and workshops so that their mental health remains good. Time management is crucial for employees who work for global organizations. HR needs to allow proper lunch hours as well as working hours and working days; despite being in different time zones. Some countries prefer 4-day working week while other countries prefer 5-day; HR has the responsibility to provide a good work-life balance to the employees without affecting the productivity.

 

Integrating technology

Technology is a key element in this hybrid working model. Since collaboration is vital between team members for brainstorming, for discussing and supporting each other in every project, HR has to be extremely proactive in integrating technology in this new normal to ensure smooth progress. HR also has to be careful that this new technology is not too capital-intensive and a burden for the organization. For example, some organizations have introduced an app that provides constant reminders to the employees – about taking an eye exercise break, water break and general workout break – so that the physical health of the employees is ensured. Other manufacturing units provide thermal sensors that can detect unusual temperature level of employees and other sensors to sense if social distancing or mask wearing is compromised.

Thus, the role of HR is crucial now in every aspect of the organization’s growth, and employee engagement as well as employee experience. HR can assume the mantle of an important business advisor and a strategic leader. They can steer the organization in the right direction, to adopt a more agile way of working.

September 01, 2021