With the advancements in office technology and availability of affordable digital connectivity, the traditional office setup underwent a major restructuring. Organizations began to experiment, evaluate and perfect the ‘distributed workforce’ concept. It began with few employees being allowed to work from home or any place to the entire workforce working remotely from anywhere (mostly during pandemic lockdowns). The technological enablements allowed employees to work from anywhere while still keeping them connected with the main office. Work from anywhere culture also resonates with the workplace solutions that allow employees to work anywhere in the office without fixed seating arrangements, shared spaces, collaborative and social spaces.
Amidst all these, the HR (Human Resources) department had to ‘Rethink’ their strategies, as the work-anywhere culture created a plethora of new challenges (as well as benefits) for the human resource departments. HR had to evaluate tactical, operational, and experimental changes in their policies and practices to meet the new requirements. With the place of work becoming multidimensional or hybrid, HRs inculcated new policies that support the new paradigms in work culture. The impacts on HR practices are clear and fairly visible.
This article explains in detail how Work-Anywhere culture is impacting HR practices and what are its future implications. The major areas where HRs have realigned their policies and restructured practices are recruitment, employee-related policies, and performance management.
Let us see in detail how these areas are impacted by Work-anywhere culture.
Impact on Recruitment Practices
Hire Global Talent
Hiring global talent makes organizations more competitive and savvy. Work from anywhere culture has eliminated geographical limitations of hiring potential talent. Regional limitations now stand null and void. HRs can now strive for a more inclusive and diverse global workforce.
Solving Immigration Issues:
Earlier, HR had a limited scope of hiring global talents owing to the lengthy visa proceedings for some countries, immigration issues, etc. Now, with work from anywhere culture, HR can recruit without worrying about immigration challenges or changes in regulations.
Work from anywhere increases the flexibility quotient leading to increased job retention. Stanford researchers found a 50 percent drop in employee-quit rates when employees worked from anywhere for Ctrip, a Chinese travel company. With such results, HR's workload reduces, and companies can save on unnecessary employee turnover costs.
Impact on Employee Related HR Policies
With blurring lines between work and personal space while working from anywhere, it is difficult to follow strict time regimes, and as a result, employees may overexert themselves. HR has to monitor if employees are able to maintain a work-life balance. The new policies of HR, therefore, are including yoga lessons, meditation activities, online play events, etc., for employees.
The daily commute to workplaces can be very stressful for some sensitive people who may inhale a large amount of polluted air during their daily office commute. The rising levels of PMI levels around the globe increase the risks of hypertension, respiratory issues, and cardiovascular diseases. Work from anywhere culture reduces the adverse health impacts drastically and results in a healthier environment for employees. HR departments are now saving money on employee health insurance budgets by transitioning to lower coverage schemes.
Managing Time Zones:
Considering time zone difference is crucial for the smooth functioning of the remote teams. HRs are taking the help of HR software systems and other software applications with an office time zone management feature for adjusting work schedules.
Online Safety Practices:
Employees working from anywhere use their own devices and local networks that may not be very secure. Therefore, HRs are regularly shooting emails to employees to take timely backups, adhere to cyber safety policies, and learn the dos and do nots of online behavior. Many organizations have shifted to highly secure Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, which can be accessed by employees from anywhere in the world.
WFA results in socially disconnected employees. The minimization of social interaction may negatively impact the mental health of employees. (especially those who are living alone). Modern HRs are deploying tools that allow social networking, virtual interactions, instant messaging, etc. HRs are also persuading their companies to allow employees to hire coworking spaces in their respective areas.
Impact on Performance Evaluation
Performance management investigations in WFA setup can be tricky. Effective communication with multiple touchpoints, monitoring of productive time, and effective time tracking are crucial for accurate performance management. HRs use applications such as time tracking software for structuring clock-in and clock-outs. However, the focus is not on how things get done but on accountability and goal achievement. Outcome-based evaluations are dominating modern HR practices rather than rewarding on the basis of time hours. Self-appraisal forms are mailed online, and continuous communication is used to enable accurate performance appraisals.
Training and Development
Training remote workforce and creating avenues for professional development for them can be challenging. Modern HRs are focussing on tackling these challenges through using technologies that allow remote training and development. HRs now encourage the use of AR/VR, Learning and Management Systems (LMS) software, knowledge management tools, training software, gamification, adaptive learning methods, etc., for arranging training sessions for the employees.
The idea of being able to work while traveling, while visiting relatives and friends, while staying at hotels, or while being at a beach has fuelled the craving for work from anywhere opportunities in the millennials. Pandemic acted as the catalyst. HR had to realign itself for the obvious future of work. Unprecedented changes in the world's working environment compelled HR to devise new plans, bring structural changes, and adopt new-age practices to keep themselves relevant, their employees productive, and their organizations profitable. The impact is visible, and it propels HR practices towards the future of work. A future where work is not defined by 'place' or as expressed in Twitter's beautiful hashtag #LoveWhereeverYouWork.
James Mordy is a content writer for GoodFirms. A voracious reader, an avid researcher, a logophile, and a tech geek, he loves to write about the latest technologies shaping the world. He often articulates the very nuances of the tech world in his blogs. In his free time, he loves to watch movies and analyze global stock markets.