Flexible HR – What it is all about

With almost everyone around the globe #workingfromhome …. Flexible HR is being touted as the new normal post #coronavirus #lockdown.

What does it mean to the stakeholders?

WFH has posed new challenges to HR managers – particularly in developing countries where use of HR technology is not widespread. Yet, even before the lockdown situation, many companies had begun allowing employees to work from home – at least for short periods – upon request. The trend to outsource certain tasks to remote – work from home – vendors has also been on the rise.

Why Employees want to work from home

The most obvious and commonly cited reason is that work from home saves time and energy. Apart from this, you can save yourself from early burnout by working comfortably in your PJs. Homemakers – mom or dad – also say that they can maintain a better work life balance when working from home. Kids can come straight home from school instead of heading to a daycare center – and spend quality time with their parents.

With stay-at-home dads becoming the new buzzword, many male employees are also opting work from home.

The biggest benefit for employees  working from home is cutting down commute time and devoting it to home and family.

Why an Employer would allow an employee to work from home

When an employee chooses to work from home it directly translates to lower expenditure for the employer, in terms of space, equipment, and travel cost. It also means fewer people around the coffee pot – ergo better productivity. Thus it is a win-win situation all round with in-office employees staying more focused on work and work from homers being more efficient. You are also likely to get better talent if you are flexible about your employees’ schedules which once again translates to a green bottom line.

So why not let everyone work from home

In a set up where everyone – including the boss – works from home – such as one created by the corona pandemic – there is likely to be a huge communication gap. After all, even in an informal set-up, there does exist an underlying hierarchy and you need to give instructions to your juniors – which can be a challenge if everyone works from home with erratic schedules and lack of supervision.

Fortunately, emerging HR technology has put paid to the concern for effective workflow management.

Special Circumstances

Employers may allow employees to work from home under certain unavoidable circumstances. For instance, when an employee meets with an accident, he may be allowed to “extend his leave” even after the doctor certifies him fit to resume – with the rider was that he would work part-time – from home – and meet his commitments. Or the situation where a male employee is allowed to work from home for a few months while he helps his wife with their newborn.

Special circumstances apart, employers all over the world are becoming flexible about work locations and schedules.

Striking the Balance

From an employers’ perspective, working from home involves two major problems – supervision and confidentiality.

Supervision is achieved by the effective use of work flow management software and other HR technology supported by a few ground rules. It is important to enforce compliance and adherence to protocol with clear consequences for defaulters.

As far as confidentiality and cyber security is concerned, encryption, 2FA (Two Factor Authentication), and proper security training with clearly laid down guidelines are some ways in which you can help keep your data secure. You may also consider enlisting the services of managed IT service provider.

Apart from supervision and confidentiality, another major WFH concern is distraction. For this you must understand who your remote workers are.

Read more about the different types of work from home employees

Flexibility in work location and schedule is a definite advantage both for the employer as well as for the employee.

Whether or not #workfromhome becomes the new normal after #lockdown, with the right technology and a little training, you can take the initiative and offer your employees this much sought after comfort.

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