future of hybrid working

George Dunnett, Chief Product Officer at Zellis, explores why digitalising human resources are key for the future of hybrid working

While the future of work is shrouded in uncertainty, there is no doubt that employee experience will differ considerably from pre-lockdown normality. Some businesses — such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs — have called time on remote working while others have told employees to stay at home full time.

The pandemic has shown that flexibility is key and a desire for a more flexible approach to work is clear among employees across almost every industry. A future of so-called hybrid working poses many questions to employers and employees alike.

How will businesses be able to attract top talent on Zoom? And how will employers create a digital working culture when employees’ needs and work experences are so disparate? The digitalisation of human resources (HR) processes offers many of the answers in an unpredictable time for businesses.

Simplifying HR processes

With employees scattered across the city or country, the management of key HR processes has become more difficult. By digitising these processes, employers can engage much more effectively with their remote and hybrid employees, and turn convoluted data across different systems into intelligible information and practical insights on one digital platform.

Digitising HR processes avoids logistical hiccups for employees and simplifies the job of HR professionals who no longer need to filter through mountains of complex data. Monmouthshire County Council recently digitised their HR and payroll processes and has reaped the benefits.

Peter Davies, Deputy Chief Executive at Monmouthshire County Council, cited the digitisation of recruitment and onboarding in tandem with the new system’s impressive “customer experience” as key improvements from the council’s new digital HR system. Davies also underlined the importance of integrating HR and business data within a single system and he noted that the new cloud-based solution was a pivotal aspect for the council “for reasons of resilience and system performance.”

Digitising HR processes has proved modernising and cost-effective for the lowest funded city council per capita in Wales and will be key to achieving efficient HR processes in the hybrid working world.

Employee-centred HR

The shift to hybrid working has also highlighted the need for more personalised treatment of employees. While the management of employees is largely seamless in the office and is more easily adaptable to an individual’s needs, overseeing HR processes and doing so in a personal and engaging way is made substantially more difficult when some or all of a business’s workforce is at home.

A good area to focus on is the provision of employee benefits. In the new world of hybrid working, the decades -old bevy of gym memberships and cycle-to- work schemes will be impractical or insufficient for many. A digital platform for employee benefits allows businesses to offer a more flexible and tailored set of options to employees to meet their diverse and evolving needs, ensuring their job performance and morale remains high. This new system of benefits will be vital in attracting new talent, especially within the pool of young graduates, who will have high standards of technological awareness for their future employers and a high demand for optionality in benefits to suit them.

“The pandemic has shown that flexibility is key and a desire for a more flexible approach to work is clear among employees across almost every industry.
A future of so-called hybrid working poses many questions to employers and employees alike.”

Onboarding for new employees will also be improved by digitised HR. Automated inventory services to ensure new employees receive the necessary work- from-home materials — such as mobile phones and laptops — as well as intuitive systems to seamlessly set up employees on internal communications systems will be pivotal in countering the logistical challenges of hybrid working and remaining efficient.

Creating a digital working culture

In the hybrid working world, the role of a digital platform for HR extends beyond basic HR functions. Employers face the difficult task of making workers feel valued and appreciated from behind a laptop screen.

Businesses can no longer rely on after-work drinks or company excursions to build a coherent workplace culture and generate strong team morale. In the future of hybrid working, employers will need to cultivate a digital workplace culture wherein employees can experience the usual sense of community and camaraderie associated with working in an office.

The integration of internal social media platforms as part of digitised HR processes will make certain that positive social interactions, such as complimenting an employee’s work or wishing a colleague happy birthday, can take place in an interactive public domain. A positive workplace culture will be crucial to attracting new talent and essential to improving employees’ morale and productivity in the age of hybrid working.

Hybrid working has changed the way we work and added different dimensions to key HR processes. Businesses should look to digitised human resources to adapt to the new virtual workplace. Moving HR onto a digital platform will improve basic HR functions — such as recruitment and onboarding — but equally, allow for the cultivation of a digital workplace culture with individualised remote benefits and an overall improved employee experience.

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