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Throughout the continued disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Human Resources (HR) has been at the heart of it all.

With recovery on the horizon, HR has never been more crucial as businesses need to adapt and redefine how they operate.

But what changing behaviours and demands do you need to accommodate?

In this blog, we’ve examined a range of drivers and facilitators that you can use to influence your global HR strategy, ensuring that you’re able to meet the demands of the new normal.

Prepare for a dispersed workforce

It’s down to HR to re-establish your business’ culture as the dust begins to settle from the pandemic.

At some point – potentially in the near future – working from home will no longer be mandated, and instead, we’ll see the birth of the next generation of hybrid working.

Employers are likely to see a shift like never before in which employees will want to freely operate from both the office and home, with nearly 30% of workers stating they would quit if they had to return to the office after the pandemic.

A new social dynamic will need to be supported as employees will no longer all be in the same position.

To combat your workforce separation, HR needs to support and engage employees both at home and in the office, helping ensure that silos don’t form.

Enable a flexible business structure  

Following on from the first point, enabling a hybrid working model also needs to be a top priority.

Your business structure and job roles may require a redesign to support the home/office split.

The changes required may vary from providing employees with laptops rather than desktops so they can easily swap locations, or potential alterations to working hours to accommodate new schedules and childcare.

Such a change will in turn, require you to focus on your travel and expense policies, particularly if these haven’t been reviewed already, in addition to the obvious contractual reviews, where appropriate.

Another area that HR could focus on to enable a flexible business structure is rehousing employees that have lost their roles. 

There may be ways for the business to accommodate this, but expert advice should be sought before any rehousing discussions take place.

Unfortunately and reluctantly, it has been necessary to make some redundancies but to minimise the number of lay-offs, consider deploying workers in different roles.

To make the redeployment successful, HR will have to look at upskilling people, and by doing so, you can save costs and minimise damage to morale often created by redundancies.

Make the workplace COVID-secure  

The COVID-19 vaccines have enabled countries across the world to make great progress in protecting their citizens and moving forward economically.

But while vaccinations play a huge role in safety, experts continue to advise everyone to continue with COVID-secure guidelines.

One of HR’s primary focuses is ensuring the wellbeing of employees.

So subsequently, the task of ensuring a COVID-secure workplace falls on the shoulders of HR.

To keep people safe, a few precautions that you should consider/maintain for your physical workplaces include:

Solidify business changes

On the subject of wellbeing – this brings both mental health and company culture right to the forefront; the two becoming more entwined than ever before. 

You will have adopted a shift in culture to accommodate the new way of working within your workforce, and it is critical that this continues to carry through into the new world. 

It was never going to be a temporary measure.

Embedding mental health into the everyday will no doubt strengthen the engagement amongst the wider team and thereby foster loyalty and continued productivity.

Change the way that colleagues and clients interact

Whilst the health and safety considerations are absolutely paramount that we don’t forget about the mode of interaction. 

During the pandemic, travel beyond the regular commute for essential front-line workers was essentially banned. 

Consequently, conducting business simply got more creative, and we saw the boom of online platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, amongst others. 

Seeing our colleagues and peers in their home environments, not only helped to break down barriers, but enabled everyone to more readily embrace technology.

Visual interaction is a more critical way of engaging with others, rather than just orally. 

Undoubtedly, video calling has become the norm, but as we emerge from the various lockdown restrictions, in-person meetings will soon become both a desire for some and frightening for others.

 Businesses will need to strike a balance in accommodating the needs of employees in both camps.

Get help from the experts

As the needs of every business differ so substantially, there very well may be areas you need to consider regarding the new normal that this blog hasn’t covered.

While it may seem a daunting prospect to prepare every aspect of your business when the world changes at such a quick pace – here at IRIS, we can help.

Our expert service, IRIS HR Consulting, offers world-class international HR support, covering legislation and HR protocol across a wide array of countries.

If you’re looking for support or want more information on how we can help, click here.