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How the Covid-19 pandemic will transform HR roles

Business Post,  Sept. 20th, 2020

Since Covid-19 changed the way we work, the role of the HR professional has come to the fore, with new positions in the field likely to be created as a result

Business leaders and employees are turning to their HR people for guidance on how to navigate the world of remote working and everything that goes with it

The way organisations operate has changed and possibly forever. Almost overnight, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced companies to adopt new operating models in a bid to ensure business continuity and keep employees productive and engaged.

With the country now officially in recession, it might seem a little odd to be talking about new skills, but despite the personal, economic and societal hardship there are also some opportunities being created.

Just as some parts of the tech sector are thriving, within organisations the role of the human resources (HR) professional has suddenly come to the fore. Both business leaders and employees are turning to their HR people for guidance on how to navigate the world of remote working and everything that goes with it.

With so many changes in the way we work emerging all at once, we foresee the role of the HR department becoming more nuanced, with niche functions and skills emerging as a result of the pandemic.

Here are four new HR roles which we think more organisations will be looking to fill in the next 12 months:

  1. Work-from-home director

In Ireland, the government advice continues to be: “Unless it is absolutely essential for an employee to attend in person, they should work from home.” A recent BBC survey of Britain’s 50 biggest companies, meanwhile, revealed that almost half (24) had no plans to get employees back to the office.

With working from home (WFH) set to become the norm for millions of workers, organisations need to make sure that their processes, policies and technologies are optimised for remote workers.

Enter the director of WFH, who will be responsible for putting all these measures in place and making sure that employees working remotely are just as engaged, and feel just as much a part of the organisation, as their colleagues in the office.

  1. The wellbeing officer

A major challenge for organisations throughout the pandemic has been managing employee wellbeing.

A recent HRLocker survey found that managing employee stress has been the greatest internal challenge for 40 per cent of organisations.

In order to minimise a legal backlash and maximise employee retention, expect to see more businesses appointing a dedicated wellbeing officer.

Their role will be to drive employee wellbeing as part of the broader organisational strategy.

With some companies already hiring for such a role, the job spec is likely to involve designing services and practices that nurture the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health of all employees.

  1. HR business continuity director

Globally, few – if any – organisations had a plan in place to manage a potential pandemic. Covid-19 caught us all unawares.

The HR business continuity director will work with the c-suite, most notably the chief executive, chief financial officer, chief information officer and facilities director, to create a safe working environment for both on-site and remote workers.

They will be responsible for ensuring that there are clear protocols in place should such an event arise again in the future.

For those organisations that plan to re-open their offices, ensuring the safe return of employees to the workplace will be paramount. It will fall to the HR business continuity director to put in place sufficient and sustainable measures.

  1. The HR data analyst

The digitalisation of organisations has necessitated the digital transformation of the HR department.

Up until now, very few HR teams used analytics to help solve people challenges such as measuring productivity or gauging employee engagement.

The HR data analyst will be responsible for generating disparate data streams such as employee surveys, learning management systems and benefits portals and these will be used to help solve business problems.

The analyst will collect and compile HR-pertinent insights to help improve employee performance and drive better results for the wider business.

Adam Coleman is chief executive at HRLocker, the Irish-owned HR technology company


Irish Times Article – July 13th, 2020

Making working remotely work

As recent months have shown, even the most resistant of businesses are realising that working remotely can work. But now that the restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19 are being lifted, how will the emergency measures give way to a more sustained model of flexible working? Three Ireland hosted a webinar for its customers to look for answers to this difficult question.

Speaking at the webinar, Stephen Mulligan, enterprise technology consultant with Three Ireland, noted that in September 2019 research carried out by Three found 59 per cent of workers in Ireland said they would be more productive if they were able to work remotely or from home. The research also found that a similar percentage of people were not allowed to work remotely.

“If we fast forward to the world we’re living in now, we’ve found from the CSO stats that 69 per cent of Irish companies have implemented remote working, and 31 per cent of Irish companies had the majority of their workforce working remotely,” he said.

He made the point that the current situation is “enforced working from home” rather than true remote working. Yet despite the constraints involved in working from home while confined with a family, more companies and individuals have realised the benefits of a more flexible work schedule.

Tracy Keogh, co-founder of Grow Remote, an organisation dedicated to promoting the concept of remote working, spoke about how her grassroots organisation had been actively canvassing organisations to provide “location-less” work long before the coronavirus restrictions forced everyone’s hand. It wasn’t a priority then but that has certainly changed now.

Outlining the benefits of remote working, Keogh said they include making it easier to hire highly skilled people because businesses are no longer limited to recruiting someone who lives within commuting distance of a company’s office. Other gains include savings on office rentals and productivity increases.

A particular challenge arises in a hybrid model involving some people working in the office while others are based off site. The risk is that people who aren’t in the office aren’t seen, and as a result, that their voices aren’t heard as loudly, or they miss out on promotion opportunities, according to Keogh.

Change in culture

That requires a change in culture, she added. In practice, this means taking simple inclusive steps like having everyone log on to a meeting app no matter where they’re working. This puts every employee on an equal footing and avoids ‘water cooler conversations’ where decisions get taken by a small group of people who are always physically in the same place, thereby excluding others from the process.

Getting this right isn’t easy, which is why Grow Remote launched a training course in remote and flexible working for employees and for managers. “The employee needs skills, but also the company does too – the two sides need to come together,” Keogh noted.

Adam Coleman of HRLocker explained how his company had operated a dual working model since it began in 2004, combining some employees working from home, others remotely and others in the office. Yet the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 restrictions which meant going fully remote still took some getting used to. “Most of the issues that people will have faced with Covid relate to managing people. Culture is 100 per cent important when you’re managing a remote or a hybrid team.”

When a company wants to implement a remote working policy after Covid-19, or allow dual and hybrid working, it needs to give its people the skills to make it work by training them, he said. That involves practising empathy with employees and managing productivity based on people’s output, not on the number of hours worked.

This takes practice and doesn’t always come naturally to people who find themselves in management roles. It’s a learned behaviour to manage people remotely, according to Coleman.

HRLocker increased the amount of communication with employees. An all-hands call for the entire team is held every Monday, a rapid-fire sales call at 9am every morning, and on Thursday evenings the communication becomes more social, with people encouraged to bring ideas to liven up the meetings. “Checking in with people is really important but you also have to put an emphasis on fun,” Coleman advised.

Stephen Mulligan emphasised the importance of putting people before technology. “We know that technology is an enabler, but it needs to be supported with policy, people and practice. By taking a remote-first approach, you’re supporting all employees equally. The tools, in other words, are widely available. What will make remote working endure long past lockdown will be an emphasis on culture and policies that are inclusive of flexible working options.”


HR Magazine Article

Majority of HR to encourage remote working post lockdown

Two thirds (67%) of UK chief HR officers plan to encourage employees to work remotely on a regular basis after lockdown.

In a survey by software company HRLocker, creating a better work/life balance was cited as the top reason (by 73%) for encouraging more remote work in the future. Cost savings, including office rent and travel, were also a key factor for 58% of those encouraging the move.

Mona Akiki, VP of people at Perkbox, agrees with this trend. She told HR magazine: “Most organisations have realised that any previous work from home concerns were likely overblown.

“In a remote environment, what worked for us was to stay true to our culture, believe in our employees and support them through any hardships. A remote environment doesn’t worry us anymore.”

Dual working, splitting time between both the office and home, is expected to become more commonplace and 42% of CHROs in HRLockers’ survey said they see employees spending at least two days per week outside the office.

Echoing Akiki’s comment about overblown concerns Adam Coleman, CEO at HRLocker, said: “It’s crazy to think it took a pandemic for us to realise the multiple benefits of dual working. Beyond the initial indicators in this report, dual working can support innovation and collaboration, increase creativity and reduce unconscious bias.”

Akiki also predicted that a ‘fully-remote’ workforce would be unlikely. She said it “defeats the ethos of flexibility, so we are likely to continue to have a physical space where we can gather, work and play.

“We will however not mandate that every employee come into the office every day. Those days are gone.”

Most HRLocker respondents said that they have taken measures to maintain employee wellbeing outside of the office. Eighty per cent of employers said they had been managing employee wellbeing through one-to-one calls, and 61% said they have been promoting mental wellbeing services.

However, some HR officers (8%) admitted to not having done anything to manage employee’s mental and physical health. Coleman warned that when it comes to wellbeing, out of sight should not mean out of mind.

He said: “Adequate processes and tools must be introduced to ensure those working remotely do not begin to feel isolated, that their workloads are manageable, and they are engaged. A happy and healthy worker is a productive worker.”

HRLocker’s findings in favour of more remote work come despite a Visier survey which found almost half (47%) of workers said they believe their employer will ditch widespread remote working once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Coleman added: “I believe companies that embrace the shift to this healthier, more efficient way of working, will emerge stronger and more successful in the long run.”

HRLocker’s survey was based on the individual responses of 280 chief HR officers at UK organisations.



‘The pandemic is an opportunity to improve diversity with remote working’

Sillicon Republic, August 25th, 2020

HRLocker’s Adam Coleman discusses the shift to remote working, the increased flexibility employers may have in the future, and building a business from his home in Lahinch.

Adam Coleman is the CEO of HRLocker – a HR technology company that develops software for SMEs to help with recruitment and onboarding, managing on-site staff and facilitating remote working. Coleman has a background in HR and recruitment, but moved into the tech space around a decade ago when his HR consultancy purchased the technology behind HR Locker.

Although he is based in Lahinch, Co Clare, Coleman’s team is dispersed around the country. HRLocker is now helping other companies change the way they operate and deal with the recent shift to remote working.

‘I took the advice of my mother and I decided to move to where I wanted to live and built my life around it’
– ADAM COLEMAN

Describe your role and what you do.

I am CEO and founder of HRLocker. As a company, we automate the administration of managing and recruiting people for companies, making life easier for both employees and employers. Our software is broken into modules and is used by companies with as little as five employees to companies with multiple thousands of employees.

I outline the strategy of the company and work with my team in  developing new strategies, and developing and enhancing features to make sure we remain relevant to an ever-changing working environment.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

As we are a completely dispersed team, our meetings are hard scheduled. Monday and Tuesday morning are mostly kept for internal meetings and there is a quick 9am meeting every morning.

The main hub of the company is my home office, but we do have a facility to meet others and for others to work there if they so wish.

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

As a technology business, we’re all too aware of the challenges of finding skilled IT developers. Ireland has become a European hub for technology businesses, thanks in no small part to the hard work of the IDA and a highly educated population. But, the demand for IT talent is outstripping supply.

As a company that championed remote working long before Covid-19, we’ve had the benefit of not restricting our talent searches to Lahinch and the surrounding area, but sourcing amazing individuals from around the country and further afield who want to be part of a business that’s making a difference to the way we work.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

With everything that’s happened in the past six months, organisations have had to make major changes to the way they operate. With limited opportunities for face-to-face interaction, a growing number of organisations have turned to digital HR solutions. As a company that makes the management of people easier for organisations, we found ourselves in a very fortunate position.

To meet the needs of our clients, we’ve developed a number of additional features to the HRLocker platform, from remote and dual-working functionalities to time-on and time-off management, along with real-time reviews to enable the continuance of performance management for businesses and their workers.

 What set you on the road to where you are now?

I worked as a tech recruiter for six years. I then worked as an internal HR manager for Esat Digifone, which grew from five to 500 employees in just over three years and was sold to BT.

After the takeover, I moved to the UK. But my mother got sick and as she was carer for my father who had Alzheimer’s and my sister with Down syndrome, I decided to move home to Ireland.

I took the advice of my mother and I decided to move to where I wanted to live and build my life around the location. So I moved to Lahinch and started a HR consulting company, which is now a SaaS HR system called HRLocker.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

It’s realising that all people do not speak the truth and most people bring two selves to work – the one that does their job and another person that hides or masks their vulnerabilities. I learned if we want people to be the best they can and develop, you need to provide a safe place to fail. You need to provide a place where it is a badge of honour to say ‘I don’t know how to do that!’

If people know their development is going to be supported, they are more likely to speak the truth, be open about their vulnerabilities and be happier. 

How do you get the best out of your team?

Despite having a dispersed team, we’ve built a strong culture and empowered our team to take charge of their specific roles. I genuinely believe purpose, ownership and transparency are the keys to creating an engaged team.

We’ve a strong set of behaviours and principles, created by the entire team, and everyone, including myself, is held accountable to them. There is no ambiguity and everyone knows what is expected of them.

Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?

There’s no shortage of research showing there are definitely diversity issues in the tech sector. While I do think things are improving, there is no simple fix to the problem. In the long term, change needs to happen at a societal level, in our schools and communities.

Interestingly, however, I see the pandemic as an opportunity to improve diversity. As businesses wake up to the benefits of remote and dual working, they will hopefully also expand their search criteria and flexibility, opening the door to back-to-workers and overseas talent that previously might have been overlooked.

Did you ever have a mentor or someone who was pivotal in your career?

I have had several mentors in my career. I always think it is important to have a mentor that you can call but also a mentor that you can follow.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

I use Audible and listen rather than read as I am dyslexic, and I learn and retain more by listening. I would recommend different books for different things:

  • If you are starting a business or own a business, I would recommend The Founder’s Dilemmas by Noam Wasserman
  • If you want to improve your business, I would recommend An Everyone Culture By Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey
  • If you are starting or want to know how to scale, there’s Scaling Up by Verne Harnish
  • If you just want to read to understand the fundamentals of people and business, I would read The Entrepreneur Revolution By Daniel Priestley
What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?
  • HRLocker for all of my people management and recruitment (obviously)
  • Microsoft Teams for all internal communication and online meetings
  • HubSpot and Intercom for sales marketing and support
  • Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Office
  • LinkedIn
  • My MacBook Pro and my iPhone

Irish Times Article – July 13th, 2020

Making working remotely work

As recent months have shown, even the most resistant of businesses are realising that working remotely can work. But now that the restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19 are being lifted, how will the emergency measures give way to a more sustained model of flexible working? Three Ireland hosted a webinar for its customers to look for answers to this difficult question.

Speaking at the webinar, Stephen Mulligan, enterprise technology consultant with Three Ireland, noted that in September 2019 research carried out by Three found 59 per cent of workers in Ireland said they would be more productive if they were able to work remotely or from home. The research also found that a similar percentage of people were not allowed to work remotely.

“If we fast forward to the world we’re living in now, we’ve found from the CSO stats that 69 per cent of Irish companies have implemented remote working, and 31 per cent of Irish companies had the majority of their workforce working remotely,” he said.

He made the point that the current situation is “enforced working from home” rather than true remote working. Yet despite the constraints involved in working from home while confined with a family, more companies and individuals have realised the benefits of a more flexible work schedule.

Tracy Keogh, co-founder of Grow Remote, an organisation dedicated to promoting the concept of remote working, spoke about how her grassroots organisation had been actively canvassing organisations to provide “location-less” work long before the coronavirus restrictions forced everyone’s hand. It wasn’t a priority then but that has certainly changed now.

Outlining the benefits of remote working, Keogh said they include making it easier to hire highly skilled people because businesses are no longer limited to recruiting someone who lives within commuting distance of a company’s office. Other gains include savings on office rentals and productivity increases.

A particular challenge arises in a hybrid model involving some people working in the office while others are based off site. The risk is that people who aren’t in the office aren’t seen, and as a result, that their voices aren’t heard as loudly, or they miss out on promotion opportunities, according to Keogh.

Change in culture

That requires a change in culture, she added. In practice, this means taking simple inclusive steps like having everyone log on to a meeting app no matter where they’re working. This puts every employee on an equal footing and avoids ‘water cooler conversations’ where decisions get taken by a small group of people who are always physically in the same place, thereby excluding others from the process.

Getting this right isn’t easy, which is why Grow Remote launched a training course in remote and flexible working for employees and for managers. “The employee needs skills, but also the company does too – the two sides need to come together,” Keogh noted.

Adam Coleman of HRLocker explained how his company had operated a dual working model since it began in 2004, combining some employees working from home, others remotely and others in the office. Yet the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 restrictions which meant going fully remote still took some getting used to. “Most of the issues that people will have faced with Covid relate to managing people. Culture is 100 per cent important when you’re managing a remote or a hybrid team.”

When a company wants to implement a remote working policy after Covid-19, or allow dual and hybrid working, it needs to give its people the skills to make it work by training them, he said. That involves practising empathy with employees and managing productivity based on people’s output, not on the number of hours worked.

This takes practice and doesn’t always come naturally to people who find themselves in management roles. It’s a learned behaviour to manage people remotely, according to Coleman.

HRLocker increased the amount of communication with employees. An all-hands call for the entire team is held every Monday, a rapid-fire sales call at 9am every morning, and on Thursday evenings the communication becomes more social, with people encouraged to bring ideas to liven up the meetings. “Checking in with people is really important but you also have to put an emphasis on fun,” Coleman advised.

Stephen Mulligan emphasised the importance of putting people before technology. “We know that technology is an enabler, but it needs to be supported with policy, people and practice. By taking a remote-first approach, you’re supporting all employees equally. The tools, in other words, are widely available. What will make remote working endure long past lockdown will be an emphasis on culture and policies that are inclusive of flexible working options.”


HR Magazine Article

Majority of HR to encourage remote working post lockdown

Two thirds (67%) of UK chief HR officers plan to encourage employees to work remotely on a regular basis after lockdown.

In a survey by software company HRLocker, creating a better work/life balance was cited as the top reason (by 73%) for encouraging more remote work in the future. Cost savings, including office rent and travel, were also a key factor for 58% of those encouraging the move.

Mona Akiki, VP of people at Perkbox, agrees with this trend. She told HR magazine: “Most organisations have realised that any previous work from home concerns were likely overblown.

“In a remote environment, what worked for us was to stay true to our culture, believe in our employees and support them through any hardships. A remote environment doesn’t worry us anymore.”

Dual working, splitting time between both the office and home, is expected to become more commonplace and 42% of CHROs in HRLockers’ survey said they see employees spending at least two days per week outside the office.

Echoing Akiki’s comment about overblown concerns Adam Coleman, CEO at HRLocker, said: “It’s crazy to think it took a pandemic for us to realise the multiple benefits of dual working. Beyond the initial indicators in this report, dual working can support innovation and collaboration, increase creativity and reduce unconscious bias.”

Akiki also predicted that a ‘fully-remote’ workforce would be unlikely. She said it “defeats the ethos of flexibility, so we are likely to continue to have a physical space where we can gather, work and play.

“We will however not mandate that every employee come into the office every day. Those days are gone.”

Most HRLocker respondents said that they have taken measures to maintain employee wellbeing outside of the office. Eighty per cent of employers said they had been managing employee wellbeing through one-to-one calls, and 61% said they have been promoting mental wellbeing services.

However, some HR officers (8%) admitted to not having done anything to manage employee’s mental and physical health. Coleman warned that when it comes to wellbeing, out of sight should not mean out of mind.

He said: “Adequate processes and tools must be introduced to ensure those working remotely do not begin to feel isolated, that their workloads are manageable, and they are engaged. A happy and healthy worker is a productive worker.”

HRLocker’s findings in favour of more remote work come despite a Visier survey which found almost half (47%) of workers said they believe their employer will ditch widespread remote working once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Coleman added: “I believe companies that embrace the shift to this healthier, more efficient way of working, will emerge stronger and more successful in the long run.”

HRLocker’s survey was based on the individual responses of 280 chief HR officers at UK organisations.



‘Digital transformation hasn’t become a nice-to-have, it’s become essential’

Business Post, Aug 23rd, 2020

The pandemic affected Gavin Fox in a way familiar to many: he was made redundant. It happened in April and he had to adapt. “I was at home but my wife was working full-time. She is a frontline worker, so she was out of the house. It relieved a lot of the stress in me not having work,” he said. Having been in human resources (HR) technology for years, the particular circumstances created by the pandemic meant Fox was always going to be in demand, however. He kept busy. On top of his household duties, he converted the Dublin Tech Talks events series he runs into a podcast series and this gave him an insight into the stresses different businesses were facing as the country went on lockdown. It also meant he was well aware of the challenges at hand when he returned to work a few months ago in a new role as director at Martinson Mayer, the technology recruitment firm. “A lot of individuals were set up to work remotely anyway but I found there were some businesses that were still on desktops and that was crazy to even hear. They didn’t have access to laptops and those had to be purchased,” he said. Since then he has witnessed “a forced digital transformation” – a buzz term that essentially means relying more on digital processes and which has now become a necessity. “It happened overnight for a lot of businesses and the fear of people working remote disappeared very quickly,” he said. The shift to home working has involved a learning process for many businesses. And trying to return to the office has too. With technology playing a key role, there are HR challenges for businesses trying to keep things as “normal” as possible. Fox recently spoke at a roundtable event with Crystel Rynne, head of product marketing at HR Locker, the HR software firm, and Mark Cockerill, vice president of legal at ServiceNow, an American software company. The profile of Rynne’s business has changed dramatically in recent months. Outside of those in HR roles, its product had been largely a tool people only used to book time off. Now it plays a key role in keeping everyone connected, providing an overview of who is “in” and who is not for everyone. That has been a key aspect for the increased prominence of HR Locker but it’s not where Rynne sees the biggest impact. “Where we’ve been able to help the most is with people who are getting back to the workplace,” she said. “There are things that they have to do to make that work. They need to book the places in the office because maybe they can only have ten people there at any stage. Staff also need to be aware of new health and safety measures. “It’s a lot easier to manage on some kind of digital platform rather than emailing.” The HR tech sector itself has needed to adapt and Cockerill has felt this directly. His business continued to hire through the crisis while also providing services to its clients. “Digital transformation hasn’t become a nice-to-have, it’s become essential. It’s affecting every aspect, even with the HR journey,” he said. “When we were getting people set up to work from home, how are we making sure all of the equipment is together, how are we making sure they’ve got the connectivity?” he said. “A lot of that is through digital journeys. It comes through workflows, through tracking and tracing, and having an automated system. A systematic platform to do that makes a big difference.” The hiring process for Cockerill has essentially involved practising what he preaches to his own customers. “People are doing Zoom calls with various different people, and in our case sometimes around the world, and they’re never physically meeting anyone. They’re never physically seeing the office,” he said. “You’ve got a job as a company to sell your culture and give people a sense of you as an organisation through a Zoom call and that’s hard. It’s challenging for a business and it’s challenging for the candidates. All you can do, as an employer, is make things as consistent and coherent and as straightforward as possible.” Human aspect While automating processes has aided with keeping people connected and maintaining business efficiency, Cockerill is mindful of the cold aspects that come with such a sudden switch for businesses. A lot of people have lost their jobs in the past six months and it’s easy to lose sight of the human aspect when you are celebrating the help all these new digital toys provide. Even when it’s not a redundancy, when someone leaves because they found a new opportunity, Cockerill is wary of companies being too laissez-faire with automated processes. His solution is simple: make the process the same as it was before the pandemic. The channel is different, the event may occur remotely, but the tech being used by companies can ensure the act remains as close to normal as it gets. “Everything has to happen the same way,” Cockerill said. “You still have to have the due disconnection of systems. You still have to have the due disconnection of equipment, the resolution of their payments and stuff like that,” he said. “Having some technology platform and system to manage all of that, to make sure it’s seamless, to make sure it works, is essential.” For those still working, the common refrain amongst the HR tech community is that people are overdoing it. Rynne said that 60 to 70-hour weeks are unsustainable but that staff can slip into such approaches without thinking while working remotely. “When people were coming to the office, we were so focused on ‘presenteeism’, that people are sitting in their chairs. Now you’re not focusing on the presenteeism that people are logged in, you’re focusing on the productivity of the person, so are they actually getting their job done?” she said. “If people are at home – and again we’re in people’s lives – if somebody has got to clock off for ten minutes because they’ve got to bring their kid somewhere or something like that, but they’re still getting their job done, it’s not a problem or it shouldn’t be a problem because at the end of the day their productivity is the measure.” Understanding this different work environment helps, but Fox believes a full attitude adjustment is necessary from leadership. In his mind, this forced digital transformation is an opportunity to make staff feel more valued than ever. “If you can’t empower them by giving them the responsibility to deliver, you’re going to lose them because some other company will say they can do that,” he said. “Gone are the days of ‘I love my company because I get free food, I get to play on a pool table, or whatever’ – that’s gone.” The companies that come out of this crisis trusting and empowering their employees have one real challenge left in Fox’s eyes. They need to get the management balance right. Too much interaction and an employee’s schedule gets clogged up even if it is well-intentioned and encouraging. Too little and they lose connection to the mothership. Fox’s approach is simple: have a plan and stick to it. The tools are there, you just have to use them the right way. “We use Slack for conversations and collaboration, we use Google Meet for our morning catch-up, and we have an email for documents. That’s the way we work,” he said. “The main thing that we forget about is we can always pick up the phone to each other and just have a conversation if it’s that urgent – which for managers and leaders, it’s a hard one because you don’t want to be too intrusive on somebody’s day. “The basic principles of how you manage somebody nine-to-five or nine-tonine haven’t changed. You just have to actually be concerned firstly about the person doing the job. Secondly, it’s about the outcomes. “Then thirdly, am I doing the best for my employees? If you can answer all of them, things haven’t changed.”


Irish Times Article – July 13th, 2020

Making working remotely work

As recent months have shown, even the most resistant of businesses are realising that working remotely can work. But now that the restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19 are being lifted, how will the emergency measures give way to a more sustained model of flexible working? Three Ireland hosted a webinar for its customers to look for answers to this difficult question.

Speaking at the webinar, Stephen Mulligan, enterprise technology consultant with Three Ireland, noted that in September 2019 research carried out by Three found 59 per cent of workers in Ireland said they would be more productive if they were able to work remotely or from home. The research also found that a similar percentage of people were not allowed to work remotely.

“If we fast forward to the world we’re living in now, we’ve found from the CSO stats that 69 per cent of Irish companies have implemented remote working, and 31 per cent of Irish companies had the majority of their workforce working remotely,” he said.

He made the point that the current situation is “enforced working from home” rather than true remote working. Yet despite the constraints involved in working from home while confined with a family, more companies and individuals have realised the benefits of a more flexible work schedule.

Tracy Keogh, co-founder of Grow Remote, an organisation dedicated to promoting the concept of remote working, spoke about how her grassroots organisation had been actively canvassing organisations to provide “location-less” work long before the coronavirus restrictions forced everyone’s hand. It wasn’t a priority then but that has certainly changed now.

Outlining the benefits of remote working, Keogh said they include making it easier to hire highly skilled people because businesses are no longer limited to recruiting someone who lives within commuting distance of a company’s office. Other gains include savings on office rentals and productivity increases.

A particular challenge arises in a hybrid model involving some people working in the office while others are based off site. The risk is that people who aren’t in the office aren’t seen, and as a result, that their voices aren’t heard as loudly, or they miss out on promotion opportunities, according to Keogh.

Change in culture

That requires a change in culture, she added. In practice, this means taking simple inclusive steps like having everyone log on to a meeting app no matter where they’re working. This puts every employee on an equal footing and avoids ‘water cooler conversations’ where decisions get taken by a small group of people who are always physically in the same place, thereby excluding others from the process.

Getting this right isn’t easy, which is why Grow Remote launched a training course in remote and flexible working for employees and for managers. “The employee needs skills, but also the company does too – the two sides need to come together,” Keogh noted.

Adam Coleman of HRLocker explained how his company had operated a dual working model since it began in 2004, combining some employees working from home, others remotely and others in the office. Yet the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 restrictions which meant going fully remote still took some getting used to. “Most of the issues that people will have faced with Covid relate to managing people. Culture is 100 per cent important when you’re managing a remote or a hybrid team.”

When a company wants to implement a remote working policy after Covid-19, or allow dual and hybrid working, it needs to give its people the skills to make it work by training them, he said. That involves practising empathy with employees and managing productivity based on people’s output, not on the number of hours worked.

This takes practice and doesn’t always come naturally to people who find themselves in management roles. It’s a learned behaviour to manage people remotely, according to Coleman.

HRLocker increased the amount of communication with employees. An all-hands call for the entire team is held every Monday, a rapid-fire sales call at 9am every morning, and on Thursday evenings the communication becomes more social, with people encouraged to bring ideas to liven up the meetings. “Checking in with people is really important but you also have to put an emphasis on fun,” Coleman advised.

Stephen Mulligan emphasised the importance of putting people before technology. “We know that technology is an enabler, but it needs to be supported with policy, people and practice. By taking a remote-first approach, you’re supporting all employees equally. The tools, in other words, are widely available. What will make remote working endure long past lockdown will be an emphasis on culture and policies that are inclusive of flexible working options.”


HR Magazine Article

Majority of HR to encourage remote working post lockdown

Two thirds (67%) of UK chief HR officers plan to encourage employees to work remotely on a regular basis after lockdown.

In a survey by software company HRLocker, creating a better work/life balance was cited as the top reason (by 73%) for encouraging more remote work in the future. Cost savings, including office rent and travel, were also a key factor for 58% of those encouraging the move.

Mona Akiki, VP of people at Perkbox, agrees with this trend. She told HR magazine: “Most organisations have realised that any previous work from home concerns were likely overblown.

“In a remote environment, what worked for us was to stay true to our culture, believe in our employees and support them through any hardships. A remote environment doesn’t worry us anymore.”

Dual working, splitting time between both the office and home, is expected to become more commonplace and 42% of CHROs in HRLockers’ survey said they see employees spending at least two days per week outside the office.

Echoing Akiki’s comment about overblown concerns Adam Coleman, CEO at HRLocker, said: “It’s crazy to think it took a pandemic for us to realise the multiple benefits of dual working. Beyond the initial indicators in this report, dual working can support innovation and collaboration, increase creativity and reduce unconscious bias.”

Akiki also predicted that a ‘fully-remote’ workforce would be unlikely. She said it “defeats the ethos of flexibility, so we are likely to continue to have a physical space where we can gather, work and play.

“We will however not mandate that every employee come into the office every day. Those days are gone.”

Most HRLocker respondents said that they have taken measures to maintain employee wellbeing outside of the office. Eighty per cent of employers said they had been managing employee wellbeing through one-to-one calls, and 61% said they have been promoting mental wellbeing services.

However, some HR officers (8%) admitted to not having done anything to manage employee’s mental and physical health. Coleman warned that when it comes to wellbeing, out of sight should not mean out of mind.

He said: “Adequate processes and tools must be introduced to ensure those working remotely do not begin to feel isolated, that their workloads are manageable, and they are engaged. A happy and healthy worker is a productive worker.”

HRLocker’s findings in favour of more remote work come despite a Visier survey which found almost half (47%) of workers said they believe their employer will ditch widespread remote working once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Coleman added: “I believe companies that embrace the shift to this healthier, more efficient way of working, will emerge stronger and more successful in the long run.”

HRLocker’s survey was based on the individual responses of 280 chief HR officers at UK organisations.



Sunday Business Post – July 19th, 2020

Covid-19 crisis causes huge headache over annual leave

Irish businesses are facing potential disruption over annual leave later this year, data compiled by HRLocker has revealed.
Analysis of 500 companies by HRLocker, a Co Clare-based human-resources software company, showed that during the height of the coronavirus lockdown in April and May, employees made only 26,000 requests to take annual leave.
During the same two-month period in 2019, roughly 41,000 requests were submitted to take annual leave at the same companies. The data for May 2020 showed that employees used 39 per cent less paid time off compared to the same month in 2019.
In addition, a relatively low level of time-off requests have been logged for July and August. However, HRLocker said more workers may still lodge requests for holidays.
Crystel Robbins Rynne, head of product and marketing at the company, said a high proportion of workers were heading into September with four weeks of annual leave to take. She said clients have contacted HRLocker looking for advice in relation to this.
“Employers should know that if somebody is cancelling leave because their holiday has been cancelled, it doesn’t mean you as an employer have to let them cancel the leave,” she said. “It’s at an employer’s discretion.”
Robbins Rynne said clients had also faced instances of workers not accruing enough annual leave days to take holidays later in the year. Workers who were laid off short-term and were on the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment have not been accruing any annual leave.
“One customer has an employee who has wedding leave booked for the month of October, but they no longer have the amount of leave accrued to take it. In that situation, we would say to talk to the employee and come to some kind of agreement,” she said.
Ger Connolly, employment law partner at Mason Hayes & Curran, said the firm’s clients had also sought advice on annual leave in recent weeks. He said employers had asked if they can ensure that a certain number of days are not carried over to next year.
“An employer can request that an employee take leave,” Connolly said. “The Organisation of Working Time Act (1997) provides that the timing of an employee’s annual leave can be determined by the employer ‘having regard to work requirements’. We believe this gives employers the right to compel their employees to take annual leave.”
However, employers are obliged to consult with their employees 30 days before the start of the annual leave in order to avail of this provision.
Britain has recently relaxed rules on annual leave due to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing workers to carry over holiday days into 2021. However, Connolly said Ireland had not proposed any such legislation.
#LEGAL,
#COMPANIES,
#SECTORS,
#BUSINESS


Irish Times Article – July 13th, 2020

Making working remotely work

As recent months have shown, even the most resistant of businesses are realising that working remotely can work. But now that the restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19 are being lifted, how will the emergency measures give way to a more sustained model of flexible working? Three Ireland hosted a webinar for its customers to look for answers to this difficult question.

Speaking at the webinar, Stephen Mulligan, enterprise technology consultant with Three Ireland, noted that in September 2019 research carried out by Three found 59 per cent of workers in Ireland said they would be more productive if they were able to work remotely or from home. The research also found that a similar percentage of people were not allowed to work remotely.

“If we fast forward to the world we’re living in now, we’ve found from the CSO stats that 69 per cent of Irish companies have implemented remote working, and 31 per cent of Irish companies had the majority of their workforce working remotely,” he said.

He made the point that the current situation is “enforced working from home” rather than true remote working. Yet despite the constraints involved in working from home while confined with a family, more companies and individuals have realised the benefits of a more flexible work schedule.

Tracy Keogh, co-founder of Grow Remote, an organisation dedicated to promoting the concept of remote working, spoke about how her grassroots organisation had been actively canvassing organisations to provide “location-less” work long before the coronavirus restrictions forced everyone’s hand. It wasn’t a priority then but that has certainly changed now.

Outlining the benefits of remote working, Keogh said they include making it easier to hire highly skilled people because businesses are no longer limited to recruiting someone who lives within commuting distance of a company’s office. Other gains include savings on office rentals and productivity increases.

A particular challenge arises in a hybrid model involving some people working in the office while others are based off site. The risk is that people who aren’t in the office aren’t seen, and as a result, that their voices aren’t heard as loudly, or they miss out on promotion opportunities, according to Keogh.

Change in culture

That requires a change in culture, she added. In practice, this means taking simple inclusive steps like having everyone log on to a meeting app no matter where they’re working. This puts every employee on an equal footing and avoids ‘water cooler conversations’ where decisions get taken by a small group of people who are always physically in the same place, thereby excluding others from the process.

Getting this right isn’t easy, which is why Grow Remote launched a training course in remote and flexible working for employees and for managers. “The employee needs skills, but also the company does too – the two sides need to come together,” Keogh noted.

Adam Coleman of HRLocker explained how his company had operated a dual working model since it began in 2004, combining some employees working from home, others remotely and others in the office. Yet the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 restrictions which meant going fully remote still took some getting used to. “Most of the issues that people will have faced with Covid relate to managing people. Culture is 100 per cent important when you’re managing a remote or a hybrid team.”

When a company wants to implement a remote working policy after Covid-19, or allow dual and hybrid working, it needs to give its people the skills to make it work by training them, he said. That involves practising empathy with employees and managing productivity based on people’s output, not on the number of hours worked.

This takes practice and doesn’t always come naturally to people who find themselves in management roles. It’s a learned behaviour to manage people remotely, according to Coleman.

HRLocker increased the amount of communication with employees. An all-hands call for the entire team is held every Monday, a rapid-fire sales call at 9am every morning, and on Thursday evenings the communication becomes more social, with people encouraged to bring ideas to liven up the meetings. “Checking in with people is really important but you also have to put an emphasis on fun,” Coleman advised.

Stephen Mulligan emphasised the importance of putting people before technology. “We know that technology is an enabler, but it needs to be supported with policy, people and practice. By taking a remote-first approach, you’re supporting all employees equally. The tools, in other words, are widely available. What will make remote working endure long past lockdown will be an emphasis on culture and policies that are inclusive of flexible working options.”


HR Magazine Article

Majority of HR to encourage remote working post lockdown

Two thirds (67%) of UK chief HR officers plan to encourage employees to work remotely on a regular basis after lockdown.

In a survey by software company HRLocker, creating a better work/life balance was cited as the top reason (by 73%) for encouraging more remote work in the future. Cost savings, including office rent and travel, were also a key factor for 58% of those encouraging the move.

Mona Akiki, VP of people at Perkbox, agrees with this trend. She told HR magazine: “Most organisations have realised that any previous work from home concerns were likely overblown.

“In a remote environment, what worked for us was to stay true to our culture, believe in our employees and support them through any hardships. A remote environment doesn’t worry us anymore.”

Dual working, splitting time between both the office and home, is expected to become more commonplace and 42% of CHROs in HRLockers’ survey said they see employees spending at least two days per week outside the office.

Echoing Akiki’s comment about overblown concerns Adam Coleman, CEO at HRLocker, said: “It’s crazy to think it took a pandemic for us to realise the multiple benefits of dual working. Beyond the initial indicators in this report, dual working can support innovation and collaboration, increase creativity and reduce unconscious bias.”

Akiki also predicted that a ‘fully-remote’ workforce would be unlikely. She said it “defeats the ethos of flexibility, so we are likely to continue to have a physical space where we can gather, work and play.

“We will however not mandate that every employee come into the office every day. Those days are gone.”

Most HRLocker respondents said that they have taken measures to maintain employee wellbeing outside of the office. Eighty per cent of employers said they had been managing employee wellbeing through one-to-one calls, and 61% said they have been promoting mental wellbeing services.

However, some HR officers (8%) admitted to not having done anything to manage employee’s mental and physical health. Coleman warned that when it comes to wellbeing, out of sight should not mean out of mind.

He said: “Adequate processes and tools must be introduced to ensure those working remotely do not begin to feel isolated, that their workloads are manageable, and they are engaged. A happy and healthy worker is a productive worker.”

HRLocker’s findings in favour of more remote work come despite a Visier survey which found almost half (47%) of workers said they believe their employer will ditch widespread remote working once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Coleman added: “I believe companies that embrace the shift to this healthier, more efficient way of working, will emerge stronger and more successful in the long run.”

HRLocker’s survey was based on the individual responses of 280 chief HR officers at UK organisations.


Check out some of our best feature articles of 2020


Sillicon Republic Article

Is Remote Working Here to Stay?

Employers and employees are starting to think about life after Covid-19 restrictions are eased, and many believe that hybrid working will become the norm going forward.

How we will work in the future has been a topic of debate for a long time now. But with the sudden shift to remote working in recent months, employers are now faced with making an important decision about working life beyond Covid-19.

Hybrid working models are one avenue many businesses may be looking to take in the coming weeks and months as restrictions are eased. In a hybrid working arrangement, there is a mix of people working in the office and from home or other remote locations.

This may involve some staff working in the office full-time and others outside of it full-time, or a more flexible schedule where different people will be in the office on different days of the week.

A recent survey by the Institute of Directors in Ireland suggested that many business leaders in Ireland have identified a hybrid working model as the way forward. Only one in eight surveyed said they believe all staff will be back in the office after Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

Tech workers don’t want to go back to the office full-time
In another recent survey by Dublin Tech Talks of 3,500 technology professionals in Ireland, 90pc said they do not intend to return to working from the office full-time after the pandemic. However, only one in five said they plan to work remotely full-time.

Although 85pc said they were happy with how their leaders had handled the challenges of the past few months, 42pc said they were anxious about their employer’s capacity to implement physical distancing in the office.

Three-quarters of respondents said they don’t want to commute to the office more than three days a week, and almost one-third said they are worried about travelling to work on public transport.

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Gavin Fox, founder of Dublin Tech Talks, said: “Despite the economic challenges of Covid-19, demand for tech talent has actually increased as organisations rush to digitise their operations.

“From our research, it’s clear that employers will need to make remote working common practice while providing access to a safe space.”

Employers plan to encourage more remote working. But what are employers planning going forward? HRLocker surveyed 370 CEOs and CHROs, and more than three-quarters said they plan to encourage their employees to work remotely more often after restrictions are lifted.

Most indicated plans to adopt a form of hybrid or ‘dual’ working, where employees split their time between the office and home. Almost half said that in such a model, employees would spend a minimum of three days out of the office every week. Just 14pc of participants said they don’t see remote working as a feasible option.

The main reasons cited for introducing more remote working was to create a better work-life balance for employees, and encourage cost savings and higher productivity levels.

Adam Coleman, CEO of HRLocker, said: “It’s crazy to think it took a pandemic for us to realise the multiple benefits of dual working … I believe companies that embrace the shift to this healthier, more efficient way of working, will emerge stronger and more successful in the long run.”

However, Coleman also emphasised the importance of continuing to provide robust wellbeing initiatives for hybrid teams. “Remote working presents its own set of HR challenges that must be addressed if it is to be sustainable in the long term. Out of sight should not mean out of mind.

“Adequate processes and tools must be introduced to ensure those working remotely do not begin to feel isolated, that their workloads are manageable and they are engaged. A happy and healthy worker is a productive worker.”



Evoke.ie Article

Working from home such a success that many firms plan to continue

More than three-quarters of businesses plan to encourage employees to work from home more often when lockdown ends, a new survey has revealed.

However, for many it may not be a full-time domestic set-up, with ‘dual working’ between the office and home being favoured by many firms.

With movement restrictions forcing employees to work remotely during the pandemic, it appears to have been a success for many organisations, as the majority now want it to remain a long-term feature of their business.

A poll carried out by software firm HRLocker on 370 CEOs and chief human resources officers found that due to the success many companies want to introduce a form of ‘dual working’, where workers split their time between home and the office.

More than 40 per cent plan for employees to spend a minimum of three days out of the office. The main reason given for this switch to dual working is to create a better work/life balance for employees (83 per cent), followed by cost savings, such as office rent and travel subsidies (55 per cent).

Just 14% of companies surveyed said remote work was not a feasible option for its employees.

HRLocker CEO Adam Coleman said working from home can increase creativity and innovation. ‘It’s crazy to think it took a pandemic for us to realise the multiple benefits of dual working,’ he said. ‘I believe companies that embrace the shift to this healthier, more efficient way of working will emerge stronger and more successful in the long run.’

However, there were downsides to remote working, as employee stress was a concern for almost half of companies. Despite these concerns, only one in five admit they have done nothing for employee well-being.

‘Remote working presents its own set of HR challenges that must be addressed if it is to be sustainable in the long term,’Coleman added.

‘Out of sight should not mean out of mind. Adequate processes and tools must be introduced to ensure those working remotely do not begin to feel isolated, that their workloads are manageable, and they are engaged.



Talint International Article

67% of businesses to retain some remote working post-COVID-19

More than two thirds (67%) of organisations expect to encourage staff to work remotely more often after lockdown, according to a survey by HRLocker. A quarter (26%) expect to significantly increase remote working.

Companies are looking to do this to provide workers with a better work / life balance (73%) and to make cost savings (58%). Most businesses (93%) are using technology to manage employees. Employers have been concerned about employees’ stress during the lockdown (35%), but this has been overshadowed by worries around sales, which have been challenging for 52% of respondents.

Adam Coleman, CEO at HRLocker, commented, “It’s crazy to think it took a pandemic for us to realise the multiple benefits of dual working. Beyond the initial indicators in this report, dual working can support innovation and collaboration, increase creativity and reduce unconscious bias. I believe companies that embrace the shift to this healthier, more efficient way of working, will emerge stronger and more successful in the long run.”



Three.ie

The Future of flexible work – dual working

Adam Coleman is CEO of HRLocker, a cloud-based HR platform, which now serves more than 20,000 daily users in more than 55 countries from its headquarters in Lahinch, Co Clare. While the company has had a flexible working approach since it started, Adam shares what he’s learned about how the recent restrictions imposed due to Covid-19 have prompted some lasting changes in how the company operates.

A lot’s been said about how the Covid-19 restrictions are likely to spark a surge in working from home, or remote and flexible working. So it’s worth asking the question: when life and work start to return to normal as the restrictions ease, will things go back to way they were, or will it change our behaviour?

Many businesses that would never have considered remote working before are now discovering how productivity levels have gone up or stayed the same. It’s changing the perception of individuals who might never have contemplated working from home on a more permanent basis. There is a growing acceptance that dual working arrangements could become the norm going forward.

What you do, not where you go.

Then there are wider benefits to the business, like being able to retain excellent staff who might have otherwise left if they were relocating or in search of more flexible working conditions. And when location no longer affects someone’s ability to work well, suddenly it opens up a much wider talent pool to recruit from, beyond people who happen to live within commuting distance of the office.

But let’s be clear about one thing first: there’s working from home, and then there’s working from home during Covid-19. Anyone who had worked remotely before the Coronavirus struck will tell you there’s a world of difference between having a designated work space at home, compared to working from home when you’re sharing that space with a partner, as well as children who need home schooling or supervision.

I can speak as someone who’s been an advocate for flexible working for a long time. When I founded HRLocker back in 2004, I set it up from Lahinch in the West of Ireland after moving back there from the UK. HRLocker began as a HR consultancy, then in 2008 when the downturn hit, we had to scale back the business and reinvent ourselves. Together with Assembly Point, a software development company in Cork, we developed an online product. This started getting real traction from late 2013. The beauty of being cloud-based is that it enables the HRLocker team to work from anywhere. So far, we have attracted people from Galway, Dublin, the UK, South Africa and Brazil.

Productive in a pinch.

We use a technology stack that’s designed to let people get productive from any desk within three minutes. As the business grew, we built an open, transparent meritocracy based on dual working, a concept that combined people coming to the office for some of the week and working from home at other times.

But then the Covid-19 restrictions happened, and everything changed.

From a technology point of view, we found the jump to being a fully remote company easy. We haven’t needed to start using new tools as a result of working remotely. We were already using a cloud based phone system (3Connect) very successfully for example, this meant we could easily divert calls to mobiles no matter where we happen to be working. It also lets us dial out using a number that’s local to the region our customers are in, like the UK or USA, which is critical for sales.

Even though we had the tools and we were already familiar with them, we still needed to make the mental leap. When the restrictions began in March, it took the team a few weeks to get reasonably comfortable with a new rhythm of work, and we needed to make some adjustments along the way based on early feedback.

Lessons from lockdown: making remote work, work.

Our mindset has even changed in that, now we can see how 100% remote can work, and after six weeks, we can say it is working – but it took effort. So what did we learn?

When people can’t come to the office, the conversations, collaboration and sharing of ideas that would happen organically in an office setting aren’t available to us. Collaboration has to be scheduled and designed. For example, we hold an ‘all hands’ meeting for the entire team on a Monday, a management meeting on a Tuesday and I have a dedicated 40 minute catch-up with all of the people who report to me, every week. Our sales team has daily meetings at either 9am or at 4.30, rarely for more than 15 minutes.

Leadership 101: empathy and understanding.

More than ever, businesses need to coach their leaders in empathy. I can’t emphasise this enough. It’s a manager’s job to be attuned to their team’s needs. In the office, it’s much easier to read visual cues if someone is unfocused or worried. In a remote setting, it’s only by asking direct questions and listening attentively to the answers that managers can get a feel for how people are coping – or not. If someone on the team has a problem, the manager needs to empathise and understand that they might need some leeway on a deadline if they’re dealing with personal issues.

The lesson for businesses is to understand how their people want to communicate and make decisions. Some people are perfectly happy to dive into the detail of a discussion as soon as a call starts, other people need time for small talk before tackling the issue at hand, and you’ve got to allow for both approaches. The same is true of teams: one size doesn’t fit all so you might need a different approach for marketing than for billing or development.

Learning as you work.

Ultimately, work in all its forms – dual, remote, or flexible – comes back to people. Making it a success starts with hiring individuals who are comfortable with evolving ways of work, or else they’ll find it difficult.

As this crisis should teach us, remote working is about so much more than having a policy or ticking a box. This is about adult development, and about empowering them to do their jobs as well as possible, wherever that’s possible.

Adam Coleman will be sharing his experiences in an upcoming webinar hosted by Three, which will look at flexible working after Covid-19: the culture, tools, policies and practices that will change how your business works. For more information email connected@three.ie. For further information about HRLocker visit www.HRLocker.com.



Sunday Business Post

Clearly defined principles help firms transition to WFH

Do you trust your people to be productive while they work from home? Have you put all the correct measures in place to allow your employees to work in a dispersed way?

For many managers and employers unfamiliar with remote working, the transition is proving Challenging, particularly in cases where individuals are underperforming. It would be easy to lay the blame at their virtual feet, but ultimately it falls to the manager to encourage behaviours that promote productivity In order to do this, it’s important to define your principles. What is fundamentally important to your business? What makes you different to everyone else, and what are you trying to achieve?

Next, you will need to look at the behaviours you need to instil in your staff to ensure that these principles filter down to all parts of the business and how it operates. Once you’ve agreed on a principle, give it a title and create a draft definition.

Workshop it with the rest of your employees online. Ask each workshop participant to put forward suggestions for “what good looks like” under that principle. This way you’ll have their buy-in and there can be no confusion over what is expected of them.

When the workshops are completed, mix all the findings and come up with an agreed title and definition and an outline of “what good looks like”. While every organisation will  have its own nuances, here is a snapshot of our own three core principles and three core behaviours.

Principle 1:

Business integrity

For us, this is about maintaining and promoting social, business, ethical and organisational norms across all of our internal and external business activities. Putting it into practice, we expect all of our employees to maintain confidentiality, meet personal and business commitments and adhere to the company’s policies and procedures.

 A firm’s core principles must filter down to all its staff

 Principle 2:

Trust and truth

Trust and truth are the foundations of remote-working success. Without them, it cannot work, but it’s a two-way thing. We ask that our employees have trust in the company’s actions and be truthful to the company at all times.

Principle 3:

Ownership

We operate an open transparent meritocracy As such, our employees have a duty to the company and to themselves. We believe wholeheartedly that their development,  performance and relationships will lead to success for them personally and for the company as a whole. The three behaviours we have defined in order to ensure we uphold these principles are as follows:

 Behaviour 1: Flexibility

For us, this is about maintaining effectiveness in varying environments and with regard to differing tasks, responsibilities and people. It is about continually seeking new and better ways of working and becoming more efficient and simplistic. Delivering on this behaviour means:

  • applying an agile approach to work at all times;

  • adjusting our behaviour to others’ style in order to promote efficiency;

  • changing priorities to meet the changing demands of our business and clients;

  • adjusting quickly to new responsibilities and tasks.

Behaviour 2:

Teamwork

We’ve defined this as working effectively with others, both inside and outside our team, in order to accomplish organisational goals and to establish and maintain good working relationships. It is also about taking actions that respect the needs and the success of the business and the contribution of others. In practice this means:

  • establishing and building good interpersonal relationships, not keeping secrets relating to work and supporting and listening to others;

  • asking for help and encouraging involvement, sharing thoughts, feelings and rationale, and exchanging information freely;

  • building on and developing our own and others’ ideas, and supporting company decisions when appropriate, even when they are in conflict with our own;

  • clarifying situations and facilitating agreement when needed.

Behaviour 3: Initiative and execution

This is about “self-starting” and taking the prompt action required to achieve objectives. It works well when employees:

  • take immediate action when they are confronted with a problem;

  • implement new ideas and solutions without prompting;

  • take action that goes beyond the basic requirements of the job in order to achieve company objectives;

  • generate ideas that could improve work processes and practices;

  • take advantage of opportunities for self-improvement when presented.

Adam Coleman is chief executive at HRLocker


absence management software

The Sunday Business Post

Six Big Questions from Six Tech Experts

Leaders Questions and Answers

  • How has coronavirus affected your day to day work?
  • What app could you not live without?
  • What helps you stay productive?
  • What’s your favour gadget of all time?
  • What advice would you give someone getting used to working from home?
  • What has you hopeful?

Check out some of our best feature articles in 2020

The Sunday Business Post

Tread softly as a remote manager

Whether it was common practice at your organisation before the Covid-19 pandemic or not, working from home is now the “new normal”.

With limited face-time and more work being done by email, managers must pay particular attention to the way they manage staff.

The skills that were so effective in the office may prove useless – or even harmful – in the world of remote working.

Here are the soft skills you need to hone to be a successful remote manager.

Empowerment

Do you trust your team to be productive while they work from home? That’s the biggest question you need to ask. There are probably some employees in whom you have complete faith, and then there are those in whom you don’t. It can be tempting to micro-manage those you think may lack initiative. Don’t do it. Nothing kills motivation, morale and productivity like having someone looking over your shoulder, even virtually. Instead, business leaders need to see this as an opportunity to encourage and inspire team members to take ownership of the job at hand. Delegate specific tasks and projects to each individual, hold them accountable and be positive; this is their chance to rise to the challenge. You should use conferencing and project management software to monitor productivity. Just remember they are tools and not a cure-all.

Decisiveness

Now is not the time for indecision. In the midst of this uncertainty, employees are looking to leadership for guidance and stability. Taking a structured approach to decision-making, assessing the situation and the options available, and clearly explaining the choice you make will instil purpose and confidence in your team.

Common decision-making pitfalls to avoid include:

• Trusting your gut over facts. Take the time to assess the information available.

• Over-thinking a decision. While it’s important not to rush to a conclusion, time is a factor not to be ignored.

• Getting caught up in minutiae.

• Making binary decisions. More often than not, there are more options than just A or B. With the rules changing day by day, it’s important to remain flexible in your thinking.

Elements to factor into your decision-making include taking an agile approach to work, being able to refocus the team’s priorities and adapting to the shifting demands of the business and its clients.

Collaboration

A bunch of employees sitting in the same office does not constitute a team. It takes a leader to bring them together as a functioning unit. As the captain of your team, it is your job to unite everyone to accomplish the organisation’s goals, leveraging their individual strengths, setting goals and openly acknowledging their effort. Just because you’re all working remotely now doesn’t make you any less of a team. On the contrary, the current crisis has the potential to create tighter, more aligned teams. Beyond setting goals, it is essential to incorporate less formal, more social team gatherings that support your culture and allow your team to bond.

Some activities that can help include:

• Hosting a team morning- coffee or water-cooler video chat;

• Setting up team chats on WhatsApp around Netflix, pets, working with the kids at home, etc;

• Setting up tournaments with daily brain teasers.

Empathy

As managers, we all need to be more empathic than usual to our employees. We don’t know how the crisis is affecting each individual. Do they have children whom they need to look after during the day? Have any of their family tested positive for Covid-19? What is their mental health like and how might the increased isolation affect them? These are just some of the considerations to take on board. Encourage your team to share any difficulties they are experiencing. Monitor workloads and watch for signs that someone might be struggling. While a regimented approach might get you some quick wins, in the long run, a lack of empathy will only lead to disengagement, mistrust and reduced productivity.

With no definitive end in sight for the lockdown, businesses must adapt their models and their management styles around remote working, promoting an environment that is committed to the continued success of the organisation and its people.

Adam Coleman is chief executive at HRLocker


Press Room was last modified: September 22nd, 2020 by Crystel Rynne

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