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Keeping Pace with Global & National Change - HR in 2021

September 3 2021 - A global health pandemic has seen sweeping changes to the way in which commercial concerns do business. Often this has meant rapid decisions by management, in order to navigate restrictions whilst maintaining a duty of care to staff and clientele.

From the human resources perspective, this has often meant a scramble to keep up with sudden change - remote working, changing business hours, staff rostering, and inevitable layoffs all ultimately cross the desk of the HR department to ensure workplace regulations and best practices are met.

For many industry sectors, this sizeable swing in working patterns is cause for closer review by human resources management.

Shift patterns, rotas and rosters

Over and above normal business routines, many business sectors have reported changing patterns of worker deployment and rostering. This evolution often means spreading workload across reduced staff resources, necessitating changes to shift patterns and rosters.

With reports showing a concerning rise in the incidence of unpaid overtime across many nations including the USA, close monitoring to ensure compliance with relevant laws including unpaid overtime in California becomes critical for the proactive HR manager.

Innovation and remote working

Historically, crisis is known to be a catalyst for change. The current global crisis has acted as a catalyst for several industries, which notably includes the healthcare industry, resulting in the development of technological innovation to permit remote working and consultation.

This concept is also reflected in the rise of substituting remote conferencing for more traditional face to face meetings. A recent virtual G7 summit meeting perhaps best demonstrates the acceptance and global uptake of the concept of remote working.

From a HR perspective, this raises attendant considerations of staff rostering limitations and wages planning. For employees working both internationally, and across time zones domestically, the relative ease with which virtual conferencing can be established often means staff attendance at times outside of standard work hours.

Closer inter-departmental liaison between Human Resources and general management should be actively engaged in, given the current 'fluid' work climate.

The telecommuting phenomenon

The move to increased levels of remote staff working brings with it further relevant considerations for the HR department. Up to half the American workforce is currently working from home - more than double the number from 2017-18.

Remote working, or ‘telecommuting’, brings with it attendant considerations of duty of care for employees thus engaged. Employers essentially remain responsible for providing the same level of safety for telecommuters as for employees operating from company premises.

Whilst worker’s compensation insurance generally provides coverage for staff operating remotely, it is prudent to review company insurance contracts, and give consideration to providing appropriate awareness training and support for telecommuting staff.

HR and the ‘new normal

As the world progresses through vaccination milestones in the current global pandemic, a question frequently posed is "What will be the 'new normal' in the post-COVID19 era?"

From current feedback, it appears that, in general our ways of working have undergone a fundamental shift which may see practices like telecommuting, remote working and shifting roster patterns become a new norm.

The proactive human resources management team will weigh these changed business patterns and ensure training and compliance is considered, in keeping with the changing times.

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