Kathryn Barnes, Employment Counsel, EMEA at Globalization Partners
For those most affected by the change to remote work, post-COVID work life is likely to look very different for the foreseeable future. Thankfully, much of the changes seen in day-to-day operations have been incredibly positive, such as improvements to employee wellbeing and easing of cross-border work. According to the Institute of Directors, 74% of organisations intend to continue with increased homeworking post-coronavirus. Many companies are very likely to continue to encourage remote working, leaning towards a more “hybrid” approach, adapting business practices and investing in more effective and collaborative technology as they do so. As the situation continues to evolve organisations will be influenced by a range of longer-term remote working trends, priorities and requirements:
- Completely new roles are emerging.
In this new era of remote work, organisations are benefitting from a much wider, international talent pool providing access to the right people with the right skills. This allows them to benefit from the efficiencies this option delivers while also circumnavigating the ongoing problem of skill shortages.
This is resulting in the emergence of new roles, with organisations now recruiting for Global Mobility Managers, Remote Work Directors and Remote Change Managers to help guide executive level talent management decisions. These valuable jobs will focus on optimising the impact of remote work and will accelerate the way businesses invest in talent in the future.
- Niche working styles are going mainstream.
Previously associated with bloggers and influencers, ‘digital nomads’ are self-employed, location independent professionals who have broken the traditional office-based, 9-5 mould. This approach to work emphasises work/life balance, embraces remote work, shared working spaces and innovative technologies, and is rapidly moving from a niche approach to work to a mainstream norm.
From an HR perspective, there are some important considerations. For instance, are these workers eligible for the same benefits as their full-time peers? How do employment regulations in different countries apply and should taxes be paid in the host country or the employer’s country? As organisations increase their reliance on the nomadic working style, their processes will need to remain agile and adapt as required.
- Digital upskilling is a priority.
With CEO’s increasingly prioritising the digitisation of core business operations and processes, organisations will need to update their approach to recruitment, training and development to ensure employees are building the skill sets that evolving industries need.
As a result, investment in digital platforms that guide learning and development, as well as employee engagement and wellbeing is growing. For larger businesses in particular, this is seen as the most effective way to help employees acquire and enhance digital skills in line with predicted needs.
Gone are the days where employers compete for talent primarily on salary levels. Today, delivering a genuine work-life balance is key across every employee demographic, not just Millennials and Generation Z. Indeed, leading global business strategists, Boston Consulting Group described the COVID-19 pandemic as a ‘people-based crisis’ that has driven changes in employee expectations around flexibility, support, mental health awareness and cultural integration.
In response, major global brands from Adobe, Salesforce and Twitter to Fujitsu and Amazon are among those who have changed their HR policies to protect employees and deliver long-term cultural change that meets the needs and expectations of employees. Looking ahead, employees and prospective candidates will increasingly judge organisations on how well they treat, support, and recognise the contributions of their staff.
- Complying with changing employment laws
As organisations employ more people in more countries, they also become subject to frequently changing laws and regulations, particularly as governments try to keep up with the pace of change in the employment market. As a result, organisations need to monitor and remain compliant with local laws if, for instance, their teams move to another country while working remotely or they hire internationally to take advantage of remote work.
As remote work changes long-established approaches to recruitment and retention, HR teams also need to embrace new workforce management practices in order to successfully build an effective and sustainable remote global workforce model.
The bottom line is that both working culture and the expectations of employees are evolving fast, and organisations that focus on treating employees as people, not workers will be in a much better position to succeed in the post-pandemic economy. This means delivering workplace flexibility, opportunities for personal growth and a committed approach to wellbeing that also engages employees in a shared sense of purpose.
Kathryn Barnes, Employment Counsel EMEA at Globalization Partners
Based in the UK, Kathryn is the Employment Counsel for EMEA at Globalization Partners. Kathryn deals with any and all legal matters pertaining to employment law and supports the company’s ever-expanding business formation. Kathryn’s diverse and substantial background in European employment law and business, allows her to close out complex issues and provide legal counsel in many different areas within the business.
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