Top five HR considerations for businesses in a post-pandemic world

2 December 2020
Employer policies have long been based on the idea that allowing employees to work from home decreases productivity.

But as pandemic-related lockdowns have forced businesses to shift to a work-from-home model, many companies are finding that remote work actually increases productivity. Some employers have even announced plans to extend their work-from-home policies indefinitely. 

When lockdown restrictions ease, it will be important to remember that each country has its own set of laws governing the workplace. It’s now more important – and more challenging — than ever for multinationals to keep up with the evolving rules and regulations in each jurisdiction of operation. This post outlines five key HR considerations for cross-border businesses as we transition to a post-pandemic world. 

Flexible work policies

Remote work policies typically cover general work expectations, legal considerations, technology issues and workplace safety regulations. As more businesses adopt remote work for the long-term, allowing for flexibility is crucial. By implementing flexible-work policies, organisations can boost engagement, productivity, performance and morale.

To accomplish this, businesses should develop policies that evaluate employee performance based on the completion of goals and objectives, rather than on more traditional time-based performance measures. Policies should clearly outline expectations and include specific performance requirements, such as how quickly employees should respond to incoming emails.

Health and safety considerations 

When developing post-pandemic work policies, businesses will need to include information about when and how employees can work in the office, including any safety measures they must take to keep germs from spreading. Policies must also ensure compliance with any local health and safety laws, which vary by jurisdiction. In the U.S., for example, it’s legal to take an employee’s temperature before they can enter the workplace. If your company is planning such a program, make sure temperature readings are permissible in your jurisdiction.

As we continue to adjust to evolving ways of working, many employees are likely to experience an increase in anxiety, depression, burnout and trauma. Businesses should keep this in mind when developing remote work policies. Employees are likely to require more empathy and support than ever before. Support could include anything from offering enhanced sick leave and childcare provisions to financial assistance. 

Technology, supplies and data protection 

As the shift to remote work becomes more prevalent, businesses need to communicate what equipment and resources they’ll provide to their remote workers. To start, employers should identify what supplies are required to complete the job, such as laptops and high-speed internet. They should also be aware of any legal obligations required to support the health and safety of an employee’s home workspace. In the Netherlands, for example, employers are responsible for providing and maintaining a healthy and safe work environment, both at home and in the office. This includes additional measures to help workers avoid physical and psychological strain, such as providing an ergonomic desk and chair and ensuring sufficient light. These expectations should be included in the remote-work policy and clearly communicated to each employee. Policies should also include information about what to do when technical support is required.

Employers should also understand that remote work comes with increased risks, including the use of personal devices for work purposes, insecure Wi-Fi connections and risky file-sharing practices. These and other practices can put employers at risk of non-compliance with data protection laws, which could lead to significant fines and reputational damage. Employers need to pay close attention to securing the technology used by their remote workforce. They should also provide mandatory data protection training to all employees and implement related policies and procedures to maintain good information security habits.

Determining salaries for remote workers 

Remote working often affects worker salaries. Location is typically a key element in determining salaries, because the cost-of-living, tax requirements and employment laws vary by jurisdiction. In addition to a remote workers’ location, businesses must also consider where the company is based, the type of work being conducted, market trends and more.

Payroll considerations  

Every jurisdiction has its own laws related to overtime, vacation time, health coverage, social security and income tax. As a result, the location of an employee plays a crucial role in determining payroll withholdings. Businesses should invest in a system to track their remote workers’ locations. They should also have locally compliant payroll processes for their remote workforce to avoid possible compliance, compensation and payroll management issues.

Alexandra Caddick, Senior Associate, HR Advisory contributed to this article.