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Tech, HR, and the Future of Remote Work

Remote work is here to stay. In light of estimates that around a quarter of Americans will be working from home in 2021, human resource departments have to be aware of the tech and trends that can support these workers. For every able business, offering remote work brings certain benefits. With indicators that remote work leads to increased happiness and productivity, providing these options to workers has become not just a perk but a necessity. As companies adapt their remote work policies, HR departments need the tech and solutions to take them successfully through the future of remote work. Here’s what you should know about the advancing working world. And the means to promote remote worker success for years to come.

How Remote Work Changed the Playing Field

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the working world shifted quickly. Organizations rapidly threw together approaches to provide remote work options to employees and support safety and social distancing.

This sudden shift enables a host of positive factors in supporting workers. But depending on how they’re implemented, remote workers face unique challenges. For example, some managers fear that their workers will not be working if they’re not in a physical office environment. So they have mandated things like always-on video conferencing.

To mitigate the problems of coordinating an effective remote work approach, HR departments are vital. Your HR team helps support remote work policies that offer the benefits needed to reduce burnout and promote success. A useful approach to remote work means tech-supported flexibility that helps rather than monitors workers. Remote workers especially value flexibility and freedom making them more likely to experience a negative attitude towards their work if they feel they are micromanaged.

With all kinds of opportunities open to a global workforce connected virtually, the playing field has changed for the future of remote work. With workers facing burnout while attempting to juggle work-life balance, HR departments need the tools and resources to prevent problems.

For example, due to COVID-19, one in four women are looking to quit their jobs or reduce hours to manage the strain of a heightened workload. Balancing a host of concerns and responsibilities while working remotely can take its toll.

Fortunately, HR teams can use tech to improve the work experiences of all remote workers.

How HR Can Use Tech to Improve Work Experiences

The shift to remote processes in a digital world means that HR teams have the potential to offer benefits previously impossible. Advancing technology is the reason for these benefits. With comprehensive platforms for tracking, monitoring, and promoting employee success, HR professionals can apply both automation and self-serve options to support their workforce.

In addition, synchronized cloud technology enhances the ability to communicate with workers from wherever they are. As high-tech systems like artificial intelligence become increasingly accessible, businesses can streamline their approach to assisting their workers.

Here are the technologies that will define the future of remote work for HR:

Enterprise Artificial Intelligence

Enterprise AI involves the use of smart algorithms to make large-scale business decisions. These tools are transforming the field of HR, leading to innovations in everything from proficiency tracking to recruitment improvements.

AI is made accessible through Software as a Service (SaaS) options. These help HR teams automate a host of tasks that take up much of their daily time. For example, with the right AI system, HR managers can automate the initial sludge through stacks of resumes and match potential employees through semantic language pairing. As a result, they can more conveniently narrow down their search to candidates with an ideal resume.

At the same time, payroll solutions are possible through the tracking of hours, benefits, PTO, and more. A smart system will be able to perform self-audits and catch more problems before they hit an employee’s paycheck.

Cloud Solutions

But these AI innovations would be difficult to pull off without the help of cloud data systems. More companies are realizing the benefits of a cloud data service that can safely protect their information over a highly encrypted and backed-up network. In the remote working world, this frees up time for developing high-security practices while improving the ability of employees to communicate digitally.

For example, a cloud system can allow a team of workers to communicate and brainstorm in an effective digital space that is synchronized to account for time zone differences. With the help of tools like these, you can improve your brainstorming sessions with digital whiteboards, collaborative editing tools, and group documentation all on a secure platform.

Virtual Spaces

Virtual spaces are the future of remote work. Your ability to keep your teams connected and address worker concerns will come down to how you can interact with one another. HR might feel a bit displaced without in-person, face-to-face interaction with co-workers. But virtual spaces may offer the solutions you need to support remote workers.

From virtual reality (VR) to mobile applications that keep remote workers informed on the go, there are more options for connecting in virtual spaces than ever before. Remote teams can use everything from common instant messaging and work collaboration platforms to virtual offices.

AI, cloud systems, and virtual spaces continue to adapt. HR can innovate with these tools to promote supportive employee solutions. This can mean streamlined payrolls, worker flexibility, and enhanced communication.

The Future of Remote Work

With the right tech strategy, HR departments can close the communication gap to engage a remote workforce. In turn, these teams can save time typically eaten up by extensive data entry and system management concerns.

Remote work is the future. And the future of remote work is dependent on human-centric tech solutions that promote a better working experience. Give your team the flexibility of cloud solutions and allow them to communicate through secure virtual spaces. As a result, you can better address concerns and reduce burnout.


HR and the Cloud: What You Need to Know

According to the 2015 Annual HR Technology Survey, published by PricewaterhouseCoopers US (PwC US) in partnership with Oxford Economics, the great shift of HR applications to the cloud continues—with 44 percent of respondents currently using the cloud for HR. Another 30 percent describe plans to move to the cloud within three years.

Josh Bersin describes the move away from traditional licensed HR software toward modern, cloud-based systems as accelerating with more than 150 million employees using cloud-based HR systems around the world today.

Is your HR department moving to the cloud yet? Or are you still considering your options?

Moving to the cloud will help your organization fix long-standing inefficiencies, compete in the talent war, and keep up with employee expectations. It’s time. It’s here.

Here are some things you need to know as you begin to plan the switch to cloud-based HR applications.

Four Factors You Need to Know

Cloud-based technology provides more fluid communication, simpler information tracking and access, and secure data storage. Software as a service (SaaS) is scalable, cost effective, and easy to manage. However, as with most new technology, the cloud isn’t one-size-fits-all. There are several things you need to consider before you make the move.

  1. Your Information Is Secure

Many wonder about the security of the cloud and whether your organization’s information is more secure on-premises. HR is an information-heavy department that demands sensitivity and privacy; exposure isn’t an option.

The caution is understandable: One major benefit of the cloud is anytime/anywhere access to information, by a variety of users across multiple channels and devices. However, it can leave you feeling like your data is exposed.

The reality is that, while there are no guarantees, digital storage can be even more secure than the filing cabinet in the corner—if you make sure are in place. These include:

  • Asking how your information is secured in the cloud.
  • Getting details about where your data will be physically stored, and how that space is kept secure.
  • Ask about security-related certifications, like that offered by the Cloud Security Alliance.

Having the right internal processes is critical, too. Cloud-based applications allow you to limit access to any of your data to the people who specifically “need to know.” 

  1. The Cloud Is Scalable, but Not Always Customizable

Cloud solutions are scalable and less expensive than dedicated servers. However, you may find that standard out-of-the-box features may not be enough.

PwC refers to this as a “SaaS mindset”: The recognition that while cloud-based services are inherently flexible, “there will be limitations, especially if your organization has many unique requirements.”

Therein lies a second major consideration: Should you move everything to the cloud, or specific processes?

Keeping things simple with fewer vendors means better integration, a more consistent user experience, and less training. However, working with multiple vendors allows you to pick the best solution for your particular needed.

Research how individual SaaS providers maintain data and how easily it can be integrated with other systems. The significant growth in HR technology means there are always new options to consider.

  1. The Cloud Gives You More Talent Management Options

As the PwC survey found, moving core HR functions to the cloud are the top priority for HR, followed closely by recruiting, time reporting, onboarding, performance, and payroll. You can use these solutions to help attract, develop, and retain excellent employees—critical supports in a competitive talent landscape.

Moving talent management to the cloud lets you:

  • Analyze large amounts of information
  • Use automation to streamline different processes
  • Provide employees with better access to their information
  • Improve performance management metrics for more rapid feedback and greater transparency.

Make sure you know how data is collected and stored so you know how much flexibility you’ll have.

  1. Ease of Use Needs to Be a Priority

The average company uses three or four different HR applications. That said, one of the biggest hesitations with HR cloud services is that people won’t use them—and without the right support, that assumption is often right.

All technology comes with a learning curve, and the truth is that early cloud solutions were somewhat cumbersome and not user-friendly. Applications are getting better all the time and, if you’re switching, there are many well-designed options available.

The number of vendors you use will influence your learning curve and will also impact how easy it is to track information across different processes. However, many interfaces are built to be intuitive and easy to learn. Don’t let mobile fall by the wayside, either: Any solution should include an integrated mobile app.

Moving HR to the cloud can be efficient, cost-effective, and provide powerful sources of information. As antiquated HR systems are slowly phased out, and cloud technology becomes the new norm—HR needs to be ready to get on board.

Are you ready now?

Photo Credit: kcdcloud29 via Compfight cc

The Impact of Technology on HR and What’s Ahead

Rapid changes in technology have affected businesses in more ways than we can count, from globalization and organizational adjustments to a workforce clamoring for remote and mobile job opportunities—and human resources has had to adapt swiftly. If HR wants to continue to play a critical role in helping businesses anticipate and manage organizational change, it must have technology at its core.

With Millennials making up more than half of the current workforce—and predicted to make up 75 percent by 2020—HR is going to have to embrace and build on technological advancements to meet both employee expectations and business requirements. Talent analytics and workplace analysis will become more commonplace, and companies using the data available to them will be far more competitive. 

Get Smarter With Big Data

Compliance and risk avoidance are essential principles for HR, underlying every function and task. Because of this, HR has earned a reputation for being mired in time-consuming duties with significant amounts of paperwork.

But technology has changed much of that monotony, via new HR portals and platforms that digitize much of the information HR needs to process. Today’s technology gives HR professionals access to the power of Big Data—impacting the way businesses understand their customers, market to new audiences, and communicate with existing and prospective employees.

When combined with other technologies, Big Data provides a tremendous amount of insight and allows HR professionals to make decisions backed by concrete information and more efficient processes:

  • Big Data gives HR a fact-based view of the current workforce, identifying emerging trends so businesses can adapt.
  • Predictive analytics allow for better risk-management decisions. For example, they can identify employees who could benefit from additional training or highlight teams that may be struggling.
  • Analytics also allow recruiters to assess potential employees based on real information; by basing hiring decisions on facts instead of hunches, they can improve the quality and placement of new hires.

Clean Up Your Office with the Cloud

The cloud is another innovation that’s changing HR in a big way. Both collection and storage of data have always been a big part of HR’s function and, until the cloud, meant hard drive space, piles of paper, filing cabinets, and desk drawers. Naturally, this led to inefficiencies, security issues, data loss, and chaotic office spaces.

Today, all of this information can instead be stored in the cloud—documents and other pertinent information can be easily accessed online while data can be collected through simplified forms and automated processes. Employee information—like tax forms, payroll data, performance reviews, and contact information—can be archived and organized in one secure location.

Cloud-based systems and Big Data go hand in hand. All of this data can provide valuable insight if you know how to interpret it, which has already made a tremendous impact on HR. However, in the future, HR’s challenge will include the need for higher levels of interpretation and broader application of the insights cloud-based systems and Big Data provide.

Give Employees What They Want With Mobile Technology

Cloud security makes it easy to limit access to information. At the same time, cloud-based mobile platforms allow individuals to access their information more readily than ever before.

Imagine if you didn’t need to email HR every time you had a question about your benefits or paycheck; instead, you’d log on to a portal where all that information was at your fingertips. Imagine if you could use the same portal to request time off, change your mailing address, or confirm contributions to your 401(K).

Mobile HR apps make it easy for employees to access this kind of information anywhere and anytime. And that makes life easier for HR workers, too.

Many Businesses Waiting to Make the Change—for Now

Despite the potential impact, many companies still haven’t made the switch to modern HR systems—but I think it’s only a matter of time. As we barrel into the future of technology in the workplace, HR has a lot to look forward to; cloud computing, easier storage, better insights, and greater transparency are only the beginning. Because of efficiencies, cost savings, employee expectations, and the power of Big Data—for HR and organizations as a whole—technology is just too business critical ignore.

This post was first published on Huffington Post on  2/25/2016.