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The top 5 challenges of the post-pandemic working environment

Managing people and performance

The notion of the ‘future of work’ first began emerging as a result of digitalisation, the changing shape of the workforce, and the rise of the empowered employee. When the pandemic hit, however, the rate of change accelerated dramatically, forcing the majority of businesses to adopt fundamentally new ways of working almost overnight. This has brought with it much needed advancements in the way work and people are managed, whilst also creating new challenges for businesses to understand and overcome.

According to the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development, 40% of UK employers expect more than half their workforce will regularly work from home after the pandemic. But many of the questions around how remote working will be implemented in the long-term remain unanswered…

Are you fully prepared for the post-pandemic working environment? Have you considered all the challenges associated with a remote working model in terms of process, technology, policies, data and risks?

We’ve done some of the initial thinking for you! Here’s our list of the top 5 challenges you’ll need to consider when adapting to the post-pandemic world of work:

1. Getting your facts right

Before you set out defining a remote working model, you should consider what has and hasn’t worked well during the enforced remote working period. Make sure you’ve listened to your employees and understood their experiences, views, and concerns in order to create a realistic perspective of the most effective and feasible approach for your organisation.

Ensure you consider:

  • What challenges have employees experienced that need to be addressed, and which benefits can be further maintained/enhanced?

  • What are your employees’ preferences? – a fully remote, or office-based working model, or a hybrid option?

  • What will be feasible for your organisation? – which operations, policies, and processes need to be adapted as a result of changing ways of working?

  • What new technology-based requirements will you need to support your new working model, and how can cyber security be maintained? How can accessibility needs be met remotely?

  • Where are the key risks for the business in terms of data breeches or compliance requirements?

  • How will you support the implementation and embedding of a new working model whilst maintaining business continuity?

2. Managing performance and talent fairly

You’ve likely already made adjustments to the way you recruit, onboard, develop, and manage people in your organisation, but now is the time to think long-term should you decide to transition towards a remote working model. You’ll need to:

  • Carefully consider how performance is fairly monitored, evaluated, and remunerated, and which roles if any, cannot in fact be performed remotely

  • Amend your associated HR policies and processes to reflect any changes

  • Enable remote communications and knowledge sharing by providing employees with the right tools and digital skills

  • Upskill managers on how to support performance, development, collaboration and innovation when working remotely

  • Embed the right leadership behaviours to ensure leaders remain visible, approachable and able to inspire your workforce while working remotely

3. Being fully prepared to access a more diverse talent pool

One of the key benefits of remote working is the ability to access a more globally diverse talent pool, unlimited by geographical restrictions. However, this is also likely to present new challenges. You’ll need to make sure you’ve properly understood the associated legal and tax implications of hiring people outside of your country of registration, as well as considering potential compensation and benefits requirements for employees who come under different employment legislation.

4. Maintaining employee safety and well-being

Existing evidence suggests that isolation, mental health problems, poor work-life balance, domestic violence, and musculoskeletal problems were some of biggest challenges associated with remote working during the pandemic, highlighting that it isn’t for everyone, and needs to be carefully approached from an employee safety and well-being aspect. You’ll need to address these issues by ensuring that:

  • Employee needs and personal risk factors are properly understood and catered for

  • There are clear boundaries regarding expectations when employees work from home e.g., abolishing an ‘always on’ culture

  • Employees are provisioned with the right equipment to work remotely in a safe and ergonomically effective way e.g., suitable desks, chairs, laptop stands etc.

  • Support and advice is available to address mental and physical health issues, including provision of domestic abuse support avenues

  • A safe return to the office is managed in line with Covid-19 recommendations

5. Remaining environmentally conscious

It is more imperative now than ever that businesses adopt a climate-positive stance. Initial data suggests that remote working during the pandemic contributed to a 10.7% and 8.9% reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gas emissions respectively, resulting in total greenhouse gas emissions falling 48.8% lower than they were in 1990. Many businesses were quick to react to these benefits and plan to fully transition to a flexible working model. However, having everyone working remotely may not always be the most environmentally beneficial decision and you need to consider:

  • Your carbon footprint before and during the pandemic

  • Whether energy savings (e.g., from electricity and heating/cooling) would be greater in the office vs. at home

  • The associated carbon footprint of shipping technology and equipment to remote workers if this is required

  • How to offset carbon emissions, resulting from the use of internet bandwidth to conduct virtual meetings, download files, and collaborate online

These are just some of the challenges nearly all businesses are grappling with as we get closer to the ‘big return to the office’. Don't get left behind if you're still figuring these things out – find out how we can support you with adjusting your people strategy and culture to ensure you remain at the forefront of post-pandemic ways of working:


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