Remote revolution: How the new normal is shaping the future of HR

In 2021, as organisations move forward, a key question for most organisational and HR leaders is how will remote working shape the future of HR? Here are few ideas that give a glimpse at the future of HR.
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The year 2020 is often referred to as a year of disruption by business leaders and HR partners. Rightly so, it changed the way global economies, industries, and organisations functioned. The Human Resource industry faced one of its biggest crises in history, having to hit the 'reset' button and develop a new working methodology for businesses overnight, which gave birth to a now 'new normal' of remote working.

What was unimaginable 12 months ago has become a new norm for corporations. With the pandemic threat still looming large and businesses exercising continuity via a remote workforce, the Human Resource industry's function has changed substantially.

Here's how the new normal is shaping the future of HR going forward.

People-centric approach

One of the significant changes in the post-COVID-19 HR Industry that can be seen is the change of focus from processes to people.

Compared to the pre-pandemic times, when economic gains associated with a project would drive a business decision for an organization, the pandemic and the subsequent remote-working environment has changed the way businesses function, with companies realising that it's the people that matter beyond the processes.

And this change can be seen in the way organisations deal with their workforce. Be it periodically checking in with their employees to know how they are doing, conversations focusing on topics apart from work, holding virtual game sessions and coffee dates to engage employees, and bonding together amidst this turbulent time.

While these initiatives may be seen as topical, however, with many organisations looking to move a segment of their workforce to remote working permanently, that might not be the case.

The global health crisis and the subsequent remote working environment is likely to cause the HR industry to restructure its function within an organization, with people at the core of any business's decision-making process.

Additionally, the HR industry's role will change from being a driver of a corporation's business plan to a bridge between an organisation and its workforce. These changes are likely to shape the future of HR at large for years to come.

Virtual hiring

A trend that is gaining traction in the Human Resource industry and is likely to grow further with a remote workforce is virtual hiring and on-boarding.

Unlike during the pre-COVID-19 times wherein organisations used in-person interviews and assignments to gauge a candidate's suitability for a position, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed this approach with businesses increasingly using video-conferencing platforms such as Skype, Zoom, and Google Meet to make hirings.

As per a report available online, 81 percent of talent professionals suggest that virtual hiring is here to stay, with about 70 percent indicating that this number is likely to grow further.

It offers corporations several benefits, such as access to a broader talent pool, saving time and costs associated with hiring, and enabling the prospective recruit to connect with the team manager comfortably without being over-awed by the organisation. Simultaneously, virtual hiring comes with a set limitation, ie the absence of a human experience and a technical setup investment.

However, businesses are willing to let go of this inhibition. As firms transition to a growing remote workforce, the growth of virtual hiring marks a seismic shift in organisations' approach and will likely change the face of the human resource industry in the years to come.

Revised appraisal standards

The COVID-19 impact has significantly affected businesses and hampered many organisations progress, resulting in them halving salaries and delaying their workforce's appraisal cycle. While this may be an interim solution, experts predict that companies are actively rethinking their employee's appraisal policy permanently.

Unlike the past wherein an employee's overall performance would dictate appraisals and the resultant salary hike, this might now no longer be the case with appraisals often being based upon annual KPI completion vs just the performance. As compared to an in-office working performance, an employee's remote working performance may vary, and it might not be the right indicator for evaluation purposes.

In the future, with organisations adopting a remote workforce permanently, this might become the new metric of assessment to gauge a candidate's ability. Overall, the remote revolution has caused the Human Resource industry to re-evaluate its appraisal standards and adopt a new methodology.

Evolution of HR and the way forward

The global health crisis and its effect on the economy resulted in organisations adapting quickly to the new changes to survive. With remote working set to grow further, the HR industry is likely to face an overhaul in terms of processes and the style of functioning.

The trends highlighted above are just a few of the emerging changes that the remote revolution has bought, and it provides a glimpse of the road ahead. Considering the importance of the HR function in an organisation, it is crucial for HR leaders, partners, and managers to recognise the changes the remote revolution has bought and support businesses as they transition towards a post-COVID-19 economy.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)