Workforce Planning for a Post-COVID Shift to Remote Work

Starting in April 2020, organizations across the country began transitioning their workforce from in-person to remote or hybrid scenarios as part of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For some organizations, this shift was viewed as “business as usual” as they had established flexible work arrangements and policies that enabled this type of transition in emergencies. Those organizations had optimized their operational technologies to prevent lapses in productivity if employees were forced out of the traditional, in-office setting.

Many organizations, including those supported by Kiwi Partners, established a wait-and-see approach to workforce planning by monitoring guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and other State and local health agencies. The hope was that the pandemic would be contained, and we would all return to our original ways of working. As we inch closer to October, many organizations will hit the 6-month mark of their current workforce arrangements, meaning that in 2020, employees will have spent more time in this arrangement than working at the office. It is a fitting time for these organizations to examine whether to establish and maintain a remote workforce during this new reality.

As we approach the 6-month mark, many organizations are now armed with the necessary data to assess the continuity of agile workplace scenarios. By now, you can determine if productivity has lapsed or improved. Research polls from Gallup and Citrix suggest that employees are more engaged and productive now that they work from home. The increased use of technology has addressed many of the early challenges that were experienced during the transition. This data should be used in consideration for 2021 include staffing and budget plans, and adjustments to policies in the employee manual.

Some considerations to take into account as you prepare for 2021:

Talent Acquisition Strategy: Transitioning to remote work significantly expands an organization’s ability to source talent. Assuming that the talent is not required to work locally, or the work does not require interfacing in-person, you could begin expanding your talent search from your local jurisdictions to nationwide.

Operations & Logistics: The increase in remote-work scenarios has resulted in a reduction in the use of the standard office space. However, it is equally important to ensure that employees who work remotely can simulate the in-office experience as much as possible. This could mean increased cost for equipment purchases such as desks, chairs, printers, and other items needed to ensure employees are set up for a successful workday. Invoices and correspondence with vendors should be moved from paper delivery into a repository such as a CRM or Invoice management system like Bill.com or QuickBooks.

Technology: Conference rooms have been replaced with Zoom, Teams, and Google Hangout rooms to conduct meetings. This expansion of technology has required organizations to consider other things such as access to high-quality cameras, e-fax software, mobile hotspots to increase Wi-Fi bandwidth, and site licenses for other software that may have been accessible in the office.

Insurance: Most organizations establish insurance policies with the physical office in mind. It is imperative that policies are reviewed to ensure that policies cover remote workers as well. In some instances, additional policies or riders may need to be added to policies if remote workers are located outside of the jurisdiction of the location of the office. Policies that should be reviewed include business liability, worker’s compensation, short term and long-term disability, and health insurance.

Organizational Policies: A complete review of the employee manual and internal policies are needed. Are the PTO policies in-line with the needs of employees? Can leave policies allow more flexibility for employees who are parents and who are now responsible for assisting children with school lessons? Can work schedules (hours and work-weeks) be evaluated and adjusted as needed? What does onboarding and off-boarding look like when an employee is working remotely? These are all considerations that should be reviewed frequently and have broader implications if you have employees working in different locations. Internal policies will need to be reviewed against local laws to ensure that an organization is achieving compliance.

If your organization is exploring a move to a remote work, please reach out to a Kiwi Partners’ HR Advisor. We are here to help you work through your organization’s challenges.

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