It’s possible to operate your organisation virtually without an HR system – but it’s tough. Here are four reasons why an HR system for remote working will be crucial for your organisation
While many organisations have traditionally supported part-time remote working for select groups of employees, it was only in 2020 – following the coronavirus outbreak – that working from home has become the norm for a significant group of UK workers.
Successfully switching from 100% in-person, on-site work to 100% remote working, or a mix of on- and off-site workers (usually referred to as ‘hybrid working‘), has been tricky for some organisations. Given the significant impact of a switch of working location on HR-related processes and activities – such as adjustments to working hours and locations, shifts in organisational culture, and changes to how employees are onboarded – much of the burden will have fallen on HR professionals. HR teams and organisations without modern HR software that is cloud-based and can be accessed anytime, on any internet-enabled device, will find their efforts to successfully work remotely hampered by the lack of technology; in fact, nearly a quarter (24%) of UK workers surveyed by YouGov in 2020 said their productivity had taken a hit because vital software wasn’t accessible from home.
Here are four reasons why a specialist HR system for remote working is essential for your organisation to work effectively as a remote or hybrid company.
1. It helps to ensure business continuity – especially when it comes to paying your workers
At times of crisis, it’s essential that your organisation is able to respond rapidly and to keep ‘business as usual’ processes on track as far as possible. Whether your people are working from home or on-site, they still need to be paid; organisations who don’t have cloud-based integrated HR and payroll software will struggle to complete their pay runs on time, potentially putting workers in financial difficulty. It’s always critical to pay workers on time and accurately, but even more so given the current context of the growing cost-of-living crisis.
If a crisis or emergency means that an office or workplace location needs to be shut at short notice – and employees are required to work from home – an HR system for remote working can also help you get urgent messages out to staff. Ciphr’s crisis communications tool, for example, enables HR teams to rapidly send urgent messages via email or SMS, and track and monitor response rates.
2. HR systems help you to hire and onboard new starters remotely
Organisations that are working remotely, and those with a portion of hybrid working, will now be tasked with hiring and onboarding new starters completely or partially remotely. An HR system for remote working is critical for success here, at this crucial stage of the employee lifecycle. With many competing priorities on HR teams’ plates, an applicant tracking system (ATS) is essential for rapidly posting job vacancies, collecting and collating candidates’ information securely, and sharing applications with line managers. Video interviewing has also grown in popularity, with companies turning to tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams for two-way interviews, or specialist video screening software to rapidly assess high volumes of applicants.
Once you’ve successfully interviewed and hired a candidate, you’ll want to welcome them into your organisation as best you can – and help them become a productive member of your team as quickly as possible. It’s crucial to get this onboarding or induction phase right; new starters need to feel supported, part of the organisational culture, and get to know their new colleagues, as well as the requirements of the role. New hire onboarding software such as Ciphr’s employee onboarding portal helps employers do virtual onboarding more successfully, by enabling new hires to access important information about their new organisation and team online before their first day, and read and complete essential information and forms electronically. Get it right, and you’ll find that remote onboarding actually benefits your organisation, rather than hampers it.
3. You can more effectively measure employee engagement and wellbeing
When employees are working in disparate locations, it’s more difficult to gauge the overall mood and wellbeing of your workforce – there are no quick catch-ups or impromptu chats by the coffee machine. Realistically, you don’t have time to check in with each employee individually, so why not use your HR system to help lighten the load? HR systems for remote working will feature in-built surveying or employee engagement tools that can help you understand how workers are really doing, through surveys (short or long) that can even be anonymous for the utmost confidentiality. By running engagement or wellbeing surveys through your central HR system, you’ll be able to link the data and outcomes of such activity with other metrics such as absence levels and performance management measures – helping you determine which strategic initiatives you should be focusing on.
4. HR systems help you accurately record absence levels
With health and wellbeing a perennial concern for HR teams, it’s essential that your HR system for remote working makes it easy for you to manage and report on absence. Using email or Excel to record and monitor absence isn’t feasible; you need a self-service online HR system that employees and managers can use to log and approve time off, and that enables you to record the primary causes of absence in your organisation. Your chosen HR system might even be able to automatically calculate Bradford Factor scores. Having a robust view of your true absence picture will also help you identify which departments or teams are under-resourced, and help you plan appropriate interventions to reduce absence rates.
Ciphr’s HR system, designed with remote working in mind, supports every stage of the employee lifecycle – from hiring and onboarding through to payroll, strategic talent management and L&D. To discover how Ciphr could support your organisation, call us on 01628 814242 or click here to book a demonstration.
This article was first published in May 2020. It was updated in December 2022 for freshness, clarity, and accuracy.