The future of home working is still uncertain. As many offices plan to open once more, in line with the latest round of lockdown restrictions being eased, many people are now excited about the prospect of returning to the office.
One thing that will not change though is the degree of flexibility employees now want from their working lives. Whether that means a partial return to the office or a permanent move to working from home.
For human resources (HR) departments across the UK, the move to home working in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a difficult one to manage. But how exactly does home working impact the HR department? And how can HR personnel manage people from a distance?
The biggest challenge for HR and those in interim HR jobs has been meeting the company obligations to their employees from afar. This includes health and safety obligations. Although many companies will have forced their employees to fill out risk assessments, with no oversight it is difficult to ensure employees are being safe.
Also, should there be a health and safety issue while an employee is working at home, a self-assessment of risk might not support the company as no company representative will have been able to check the assessment.
In addition, HR departments have a duty to ensure that company equipment is insured. As many people do not have contents insurance, especially those who rent properties, there might not be adequate cover for company equipment.
It is also the duty of the HR department to ensure they are not infringing on the mortgage and tenancy terms of their employees while they work at home. For freelancers, this is a personal responsibility, but companies could be liable for penalties if they do not ensure their teams have the correct mortgage and tenancy terms for working from home.
Handling complaints is another key factor of a HR employee’s job role. These are done with varying effect but the rules surrounding HR interviews are strained by working from home. Situations that require a witness to a meeting might be compromised be unsecure networks and WiFi connectivity issues.
In the business of tomorrow, HR departments will have to become more agile to deal with the challenges that increased home working throws at them. The day-to-day challenges that faced HR before the pandemic hit are almost certainly gone, but what will replace them is yet to be known.