Published Tuesday 4th August 2020

It is amazing how quickly staff across the world were able to adapt to the requirements of remote working forced upon them by Covid-19. The question now is can the latest technology help you control and enhance the productivity of remote workers as we continue to struggle with the disease?

Businesses responded quickly in ensuring that data security and access concerns were resolved – and for many the transition was seamless. Yes, large parts of workforces are already used to part-time home working – it has been a convenience and traditionally seen as a privilege earned by staff who are able to forgo the daily slog into the office every day.

Many organisations are now facing an almost certain permanent adjustment to improve their basic business controls surrounding the way in which staff work, and are paid.

This needs to be achieved without imposing a bureaucracy and burdensome ‘process’. Whilst ‘clocking-in’ may for many already a thing of the past – the new world of remote working will require differing approaches to controlling the workforce and ensuring that precious productivity is not lost. Verifying remote workers hours worked will become more of a business imperative.

Equally the methods used historically of communicating working hours through to payroll will no doubt need to be re-evaluated. Setting up rosters for staff to work when based at home will equally create administration costs if businesses are not careful.

These challenges are of course not completely new and many companies in many sectors across the UK have had to grapple with managing a remote workplace – the difference being of course that for these businesses this has been achieved over many years and with many iterations of trial and error in order to get it right. Right now, almost certainly, you do not have the luxury of time in order to do this.

What we are eluding to above is the management of human resources across a wide number of decentralised working locations is now paramount. Managing any Human Resources in terms of maintaining core employee data, tracking working patterns, tracking Training & Development, and keeping staff in tune with Corporate and Brand credentials is tough. Add lots of remote locations with just one worker in each is a multiplier of that challenge.

Getting the strategy right and supporting this with relevant and capable systems is crucial. Get it wrong and admin costs will soar, incorrect payroll will cost you unnecessarily and ultimately your hard-earned productivity will suffer.

ERA has undertaken a number of reviews into HR strategy and decentralised working and helped guide clients to rapidly deploy the right solutions across their organisations. The answer is not necessarily to tear up existing systems and go for the shiny new software package.

About the Author: Barry Donovan, has over 35 years’ experience of delivering enterprise-wide procurement improvement. His expertise took him from Reuters to the Office of Government Commerce and from Carphone Warehouse to the Lloyds Banking Group, prior to joining ERA.