COVID’s Lingering Impact
On Organizations and the HR Functions That Serve Them
The pandemic has affected our lives in profound ways – physically, psychologically, emotionally, socially, economically and organizationally. Soon some accommodations we’ve made due to COVID – mask-wearing and social distancing – may dissipate and fade from our everyday lives, however, some of the organizational ones may be here to stay for a while. Employers should continue to follow the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards issued November 30, 2020. Stay tuned for more information after Cal OSHA’s board meeting this Thursday, 6/17/21.
For many employees and their employers, it appears likely remote work will remain a significant feature and option for organizational work for the foreseeable future. Alphabet Inc’s Google, with 140,000 employees, recently announced it will allow a fifth of its staff to work from home permanently.1 Google also announced it intends to move to a hybrid workweek in which employees work from offices three days a week and two days from “wherever they work best.” That’s an interesting admission that the office may not be the place employees work at their best.
The trend toward providing employees flexible work locations and hybrid workweeks is becoming more mainstream. Salesforce, Inc., Microsoft and others have adopted similar hybrid work policies. Facebook Inc. Chief Executive, Mark Zuckerberg, says he expects as much as half of the company’s workforce – 45,000 employees – to work from home within 10 years.2 A recent study by Price Waterhouse Coopers found that 83% of employers surveyed said the shift to remote work has been successful for their company, up from 73% in their June 2020 survey.3
Many organizations now have 3 different “cohorts” of employees – on-site only, remote only, and hybrid – and there doesn’t appear to be consensus on the optimal balance of remote workdays versus on-site days. PwC’s survey also found that 55% of employees surveyed prefer to be remote at least three days/week while 68% of executives expressed the view that employees should be on-site at least 3 days/week to maintain their company’s distinct culture. And least experienced employees (0-5 years with their company) are more likely to want to be on-site more often than remote and feel less productive working remotely.
The impact of this seismic shift has profound effects on organizations and the Human Resources functions that support them. Organizations that have employees on-site 100% of the time because of the nature of their jobs wrestle with the jealousy and resentment that is occasionally expressed with employees who have the flexibility to work a remote or hybrid schedule. Managers worry about team cohesion, executives worry about preserving company culture, and everyone seems to worry about forced compliance with any particular work arrangement. New HR policies and procedures need to be designed, implemented and communicated to accommodate mainstream working arrangements that did not exist one year ago.
SDHR Consulting is perfectly positioned to help employers navigate these tricky waters. We have operated as a remote-first HR service provider since our founding in 2004. We have a first-hand understanding of the organizational challenges that remote work presents. Our staff has previous experience operating in both remote and on-site modes. The ability to influence the activities of individuals or groups to achieve organizational goals is as critical and difficult today as ever, as employees work on-site, remotely, or in hybrid schedules. We know the task of effectively managing your workforce has become harder and more complex. We know the work of your HR department has become more challenging. Communicating mission, vision, goals and objectives, creating appropriate policies and procedures, ensuring legal compliance, designing and implementing effective performance appraisal tools, recruiting, interviewing and selecting best-fit candidates, achieving and maintaining team cohesion are processes that have all become more important and complicated in this work environment.
COVID has facilitated the adoption of remote work options that have become mainstream. This momentous change is having a huge impact on organizations and the HR functions that serve them. The “remote work genie” has escaped the lantern and does not appear to be returning anytime soon. SDHR Consulting has assisted hundreds of organizations and is ready to assist you with the challenges that lie ahead in these tumultuous times.
- Mickle, Tripp. “Google Adopts Hybrid Workweek, With 20% of Its Employees to Work Remotely.” The Wall Street Journal, 5 May 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-shifts-to-hybrid-workweek-allowing-20-of-its-employees-to-work-remotely-11620240694.
- Horwitz, Jeff. “Facebook to Shift Permantely Toward More Remote Work After Coronavirus.” The Wall Street Journal, 21 May 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-to-shift-permanently-toward-more-remote-work-after-coronavirus-11590081300.
- “PwC’s Us Remote Work Survey.” Price Waterhouse Coopers, 12 Jan. 2021, https://www.pwc.com/us/en/library/covid-19/us-remote-work-survey.html.
About the Author
Michael Moskowitz, “Mosko”
Michael Moskowitz brings extensive HR experience, most specifically employee relations, training and development, organization development, and performance management in the telecommunication, manufacturing, software, education, and healthcare industries. Michael was nicknamed “Mosko” when he worked with so many Mikes or Michaels as a way to differentiate him from the others, however, we feel “Mosko” is a consultant who definitely stands out from the rest providing our clients with exceptional dedication and concern whether in training, compliance and employee relations. In his free time, Michael enjoys traveling, walking, and supporting his local baseball team, the Padres!