The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted economies, businesses and everyday life, causing us to re-evaluate how we operate, engage and work. The “new normal” dictates business continuity plans include effective remote or hybrid working models and acceleration of digitization, automation and virtualisation to cater to the evolving needs of an organisation in an expanding virtual and hybrid environment. Businesses have experienced a profound upheaval in the past few months, accentuating the need for innovative and productive work models. In these challenging times, organizations and business leaders have looked to human resource leaders to help them perform with agility and scalability.
Keeping up with the changing times, effective HR leaders have ensured timely transitions by reimagining the basic tenets of the organization with a focus on purpose, value, and culture. There has been a reshaping of HR functions with the integration of technology such as automating workforce analytics which leads to insights on employee work hours, performance management, talent acquisition and a host of other factors.
Rethinking the role of HR: The Digital HR
Darwinbox’s report on the ‘State of HR Technology in the post Covid workplace’ revealed that only 17% of the organizations were prepared to handle remote work prior to the pandemic, while another 60% had taken or planned to take measures to cater to remote working needs. The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a litmus test for HR to support business continuity by bringing overnight changes in company policies to align with the needs of the moment.
This has been further facilitated by the integration of technology in the core aspects of HR activities for smooth execution of operations. The role of HR, from talent acquisition to employee engagement, underwent a massive change, prompting organizations to focus more on productivity and skills through digitized mediums. Interestingly, 43% of the organizations in Darwinbox’s research either introduced or upgraded their digital onboarding process since the pandemic started. Some organizations are also working in the area of video interviews with cognitive intelligence, speech and sentiment analysis.
To avoid the pitfalls of remote work, communication between leaders and teams paves the path for social cohesion. Approaches introduced by HR leaders, such as virtual coffee rooms, online social events and virtual learning sessions conducted on collaborative technology platforms, have enhanced the connection between employees and their leaders in the remote office environment.
Recreating the future office
The evolution of technology in the workplace is a constant process. Resetting work trends requires HR leaders to rethink the application of technology and equip employees with the right tools to be successful at work while ensuring their emotional and physical well-being.
Today, human-centric technologies seem to be one of the key drivers in ensuring business continuity and employee efficiency. Cloud native HR-technology solutions are likely to be adopted by some organizations as part of the future workplace. The transformation will build the right bridges within the HR function with the end goal of optimization across processes and divisions in this hyper-connected age. While HR leaders have left no stone unturned in helping employees cope with a rapidly changing work environment, technology has played an equally important role in enhancing employees’ overall work experience and well-being over the course of the last year and a half.
HR professionals the world over have embraced new technologies and are more tech savvy today than ever before. However, we do need to remember that building a constantly improving work culture requires not just the adoption of technology but also flexible and agile work environments to keep pace with the demands of the pandemic/post-pandemic world.