Over the past year, the working environment, and what a workforce traditionally looks like has changed almost beyond recognition. The full-time 9-5 in-house workforce now includes everyone from full-time and part-time employees to freelancers, contractors and outsourced staff, just to name a few.
Notably, the landscape has changed from digitising the relationship between business and customer to now digitising the relationship between employer and employee as we adapt to the use of automation and innovative technology.
Any organisation looking to maintain a competitive edge in this new decade needs to keep abreast of these changes in the workforce and meet them head-on – positioning themselves in a good place to retain talent within their business and attract people as the situation stabilises.
In this guide, we discuss the key considerations that businesses should be considering and addressing to help future-proof their workforce. This includes the short and long-term considerations of supporting a remote workforce and what to look for in your software and hardware decision making.
Supporting a remote workforce
The year 2020 forced many organisations to adapt to a significantly different way of working. Whilst no-one could have predicted how the landscape would change for businesses and their employees, many now find themselves in a unique position; balanced on the precipice of long-term change to the traditional working environment. Organisations now have a choice to make; adapt, or risk being left behind.
Pre-pandemic, many businesses were relying on a physical presence to observe and manage employee output. Whilst many will have found a way to overcome the challenges of the past year, at Mitrefinch we believe that to truly future-proof a business, employers should consider how best to accommodate the specific needs of their employees and colleagues. Acknowledging and addressing the short-term and long-term implications of supporting a remote workforce now could be the difference between success and failure in the long run.
Whilst many decision-makers continue to hold out hope for a return to normal as soon as possible, we believe that sights should be set on what the “new normal” looks like. Our recent study into anxiety over returning to work in the wake of COVID-19, found that there was a 66% increase in individuals searching for key benefits including flexibility around working hours.
Taking into consideration the clear desire for a more flexible work-life balance, the decision which is likely to deliver the biggest return on investment for organisations in the future is, in our opinion, investment into a robust workforce management system.
Whilst some businesses may have already been using software to help manage their workforce, with the significant change in the way that employees are working and, most important, where they are working, they may find that it’s no longer fit for purpose. A system that is no longer serving the business, or the needs of the employees, manifests itself in ineffective workforce management practises which have wide-ranging effects across the entire business.
Ineffective workforce management has a direct impact on people management. Managed badly, this can lead to a drop in productivity and profitability all the way through to a lack of engagement and a drop in employee morale. To mitigate this, workforce management will be business-critical for 2021 and beyond.
For businesses adapting to the new normal of a remote workforce, there are both short-term and long-term factors to consider.
Despite the economic uncertainty, many individuals have used the pandemic to reassess their priorities professionally and personally; moving jobs or reskilling to better suit their needs.
In the short-term, businesses should review their induction and on-boarding process to support the retainment of new talent within the company. In the long term, businesses should consider their stance on remote working; are they remote-friendly, or remote-first? The latter has implications that will allow accessibility to a wider talent pool but also brings considerations around remuneration, benefits, and mandatory policies such as maintaining health and safety standards for remote workers.
Short term considerations
Inductions and onboarding
Although many employees will likely be working from home for the foreseeable future, this does not remove the need for recruiting and hiring new employees. Businesses must adapt to the current climate and take their processes, including employee inductions, online. Although it differs from a physical induction, remote employee induction covers many of the same steps.
How you induct a new recruit will determine their first impression of your company. Remote inductions that make new employees feel welcome and comfortable will reassure them that they have made the right decision in joining your company, thus increasing job retention and reducing the risk of early resignation.
Our employee induction and onboarding checklist can help you with introducing new employees to the business safely and legally, but equally, you are ensuring they feel welcome within your business.
Long term considerations
A global remote workforce
Thanks to the latest technology from easy and reliable video calls, to fast and secure international money transfer services, barriers that may have previously deferred employees from working elsewhere in the world are quickly diminishing.
This is reflected in the figures from multiple studies such as Remote’s Global Workforce Revolution Report, which surveyed 1,258 people in the US and the UK and found that 81% of respondents would move if they could do so ‘without affecting their work prospects’.
Consolidating these findings, a recent study by Paygo found that 1 in 16 workers in the UK (totalling over 1.9 million individuals) said that with the pandemic in mind they were now either ‘fairly’ or ‘very likely’ to work from abroad.
Karin Kimbrough, Chief Economist of LinkedIn has noted a ‘huge increase’ in global demand for remote work on the platform, one that will have a ‘significant long-term impact on the labour market’.
She states that, since the beginning of March 2020, LinkedIn has seen four times the number of jobs that offer remote work, with this trend echoed by jobseekers, as the volume of job searches using the “Remote” filter on LinkedIn has increased by around 60% and the share of remote job applications has increased nearly 2.5 times.
With this considered, one of the most positive trends that businesses will start to see as a result of the rise in remote working is growth in opportunity and a movement of skills across the globe. Companies may fare better at sourcing diverse talent, especially from groups that are underrepresented in their area, or for skills that are locally less available.
To attract and retain employees today, companies must understand what employees want and how those wants are evolving. They must also ensure workforce management solutions are in place that effectively caters to a workforce that is spread across many different locations.
Remote-friendly vs Remote-first
A remote-friendly company allows employees to work remotely some of the time, but also have a physical office where most of the work is completed. In contrast, a remote-first work culture treats remotely working as the standard working practice.
In the remote-friendly model, remote working may be viewed as a privilege or a perk and may only be made available to certain employees. For remote-first workplaces, companies build remote working into the core of their business and it is not offered as a benefit or a perk, rather, it is seen to be the norm.
As a longer-term strategy, remote working is most effective when a whole workforce is remote, so if some employees choose to return to the office whilst others continue to work remotely, this will likely have implications on the efficiency of the business’ productivity and overall culture.
Therefore, businesses need to decide whether they are enabling a remote-first or a remote-friendly culture and make this clear in their documentation both for existing, and new, employees.
Salary and benefit management for remote workers
One of the most ambiguous issues employers have had to deal with since the huge shift to remote working, is the topic of salaries and benefits. With many remote workers now moving or wanting to move cross country or even abroad, it is essential that businesses are considering how they will maintain consistent and fair salaries across the board.
Going forward, businesses will need to address how they deal with challenges around remote salaries and make a decision on whether to introduce flat rate salaries across their global workforce, or to offer salaries based on the location of their employees.
By putting clear and defined policies in place concerning salary offers for those working away from the office, businesses are setting themselves up to reap the benefits of building a happier workforce.
Health and safety
Employers are responsible for an employee’s health, safety and welfare both when working at the employer’s premises and when working from home.
Health and Safety Executive outline that when someone is working from home, permanently or temporarily, as an employer you should consider:
- How will you keep in touch with them?
- What work activity will they be doing (and for how long)?
- Can it be done safely?
- Do you need to put control measures in place to protect them?
Employers should conduct risk assessments of all the work activities carried out by employees, including those working from home. If the employer is not able to carry out a full risk assessment due to the coronavirus pandemic, they should provide their employees with information on working safely at home. This could include asking employees to carry out a self-assessment of their workspace and equipment.
Having a workforce management tool that allows you to stay in touch with employees and monitor the types of activities that each employee will be doing, can enable managers to address any health and safety issues promptly.
With a workforce potentially distributed across the country, and even across the world, management of time and attendance will become particularly important to ensure productivity and profitability in a post-covid landscape. Whilst organisations may have turned to interim measures to get through the initial lockdown phase; it’s important that businesses are implementing long term solutions, as the way we work changes – our technology needs to reflect this.
Feature-rich and future-proof
Organisations should be looking for time tracking software that is feature-rich and makes their lives, and their HR teams’ lives easier, in order to not overstretch the HR department. Choosing software that can plug into existing systems or be expanded over time to incorporate payroll and HR capabilities, allows for scalability and puts efficiency at the top of the agenda.
As the pandemic illustrated, future-proofing is of paramount importance – anything is possible and future-proofing vital elements of your operations through intelligent remote workforce management software sets you in a good position to face what may lie ahead.
Implementation of time tracking software
Now that the typical workforce is different and more robust, organisations will need to implement robust time tracking policies in order to perform their best.
For example, the transportation and logistics industry is currently facing some unique challenges – a mix of full-time, part-time employees and temporary workers across multiple skills, pay rates, and locations mean that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t good enough and your solution needs to be tailored to your business.
Moreover, with demands being made for flexible furlough support to continue beyond April 2021, accurate time tracking is needed now more than ever. Your time tracking solution should be implemented quickly, with minimal disruption to business operations. Mitrefinch’s time and attendance and workforce management software can be up and running in just 5 working days.
When choosing workforce management software, it is essential that support for that software is easily accessible and provides great customer service. This is particularly important when it comes to business-critical software such as time and attendance, payroll and HR. Support that offers a readily available team of experts who can deliver a swift response and rectify issues quickly, is vital in ensuring you are getting the most out of your solution.
Moreover, it is worth noting where the support technicians are based and whether they are in the same time zone. Dealing with technicians from different time zones can have a huge impact on how quickly your issues are responded to and can increase the risk of potential downtime.
Our UK based customer support centre is always available; online, by email, or phone so you know there is always someone you can contact if you need to.
Some employees, such as those working in the manufacturing industry may still need to be in the office and there will be some employees who may simply just want to be in the office. Whilst we hope that we never face a pandemic situation like this again, organisations can put in place measures to protect the health and wellbeing of their workers.
The onset of the COVID-19 crisis made many workplaces realise that clocking in devices are one of the most frequently used communal devices in their business which are a breeding ground for both harbouring and spreading germs. Traditionally the use of a biometric clocking-in device is one of the most popular ways for businesses to manage employee time and attendance. This is due to their superior security functions and features which eliminate buddy punching and provide you with the tools you need for effective time management.
However, with social distancing being used to limit the spread of the virus, many businesses are looking for an alternative in the form of contactless clocking solutions. In our experience, businesses are now favouring the use of proximity clocking.
Proximity clocking terminals supply each employee or worker with an access card or key fob for their individual use. Rather than every user touching the same biometric pad, individuals simply need to hold their card or fob close to the reader to log their attendance or gain access to the building or rooms. Not only does this reduce contact across communal devices, and therefore reduces the risk of spreading the virus, but it also increases security, too! Each card or fob has a is registered to a single individual, delivering business-critical information about who is coming and going when, and where, within your organisation.
Implementing contactless clocking systems can instil confidence into your workforce by providing an added layer of health and safety protection whilst ensuring employers are doing everything in their power to help manage the wellbeing of their workforce now and into the future.
As the needs of the employer and employee continue to change, as will workforce management trends. Staying in the know with current and future trends in addition to knowing your specific requirements will help guide you when comparing different workforce management software and can ultimately help you with achieving a safe, efficient and productive workforce.
Hopefully, this article has provided you with some insight into the future of workforce management. If you need help with increasing your organisation’s productivity levels or managing flexibility in the face of 2021, contact us to discuss how our workforce management software can help you.