How HR can manage the transition into a hybrid workplace

How HR can manage the transition into a hybrid workplace

Transitioning into a hybrid workplace is easier said than done. HR needs to reinvent the way they work, digitise business processes to enable more automation and flexibility, as well as find insights that can help motivate and support remote employees.

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The world is changed. COVID-19 has reshaped workplaces, the economy and how businesses operate. Its impact will continue to influence our lives for years to come.

According to an article from McKinsey & Company, there are five stages every company will face during the pandemic. Within the first year of COVID-19, Singapore has since overcome the first three stages:

  • Managing the health emergency,
  • Achieving business continuity in the immediate response to the crisis, and
  • Planning for the new normal.

The remaining stages are rethinking business according to the new reality, and understanding the changed market. To embrace this change for the better, businesses need to be more adaptable than ever.

  • Changing business needs

Technology has long been the driver of change in business. Industry 4.0 has seen AI, robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning revolutionise many industries. The businesses that had taken steps to utilise these technologies pre-pandemic had an edge, but the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of this software across the market.

In 2018, only 8.4% of Singaporean workplaces offered tele-working options. As of today, even after Singapore has emerged from the ‘circuit breaker’ and working from home is no longer the default, many employees wish to continue with a flexible working model, having reported greater productivity and efficiency.

To ensure minimal disruption and maximum efficiency when moving to a flexible workplace, businesses have needed to implement smart technology solutions and reinvent established processes.

Digitisation has demanded new ways of thinking about the world of work, both practically (as organisations increase the number of digital tools being used by the workforce) and culturally (as a shift in mindset is required to adapt to the new way of delivering products and services).

This shift will not be without challenges. Some internal processes, including payroll management, have long been run on legacy systems that have struggled to keep pace with rapid legal updates and require tedious manual processes. There is a need for improved processes with automation, as gaps in accuracy for compliance-related tasks can cause a large drain on resources.

Before COVID-19, many companies in Singapore were exploring cloud-based solutions and IoT to provide a competitive edge. However, the new reality demands that companies embrace these solutions as the minimum for continued operations and success.

  • Leverage data to improve efficiency and productivity

Businesses need to be able to manage large amounts of data in a short time and support employees in remote work, to be able to contain costs and create more streamlined, flexible, and controllable organisational models. These advantages are enabled by the real-time updates and self-service features offered by cloud systems.

These systems can be updated directly from the source; users can enter their data and any changes will be automatically reflected within the cloud. This eliminates the need to manually translate data and removes the potential for error. To support this, user interfaces that are predictive and suggestive will drive timely and accurate data entry, ensuring highly efficient processes.

  • Create measurable insights to optimise performance

Many businesses are transitioning into a hybrid workplace, creating endless new considerations for chief decision-makers. Given that every employee’s needs are evolving along with the workplace, leaders need to gain better insights into how to best support their workforce.

Amidst changing expectations and working models, it is crucial to evaluate metrics on performance, engagement, and other factors that drive employees’ productivity and well-being. Internal employee portals can support this, as an alternative to coffee and water-cooler conversations.

Within ADP, employees are currently using the talent activation solution StandOut, which enables weekly "check-in" processes to identify areas which employees need assistance – by allowing them to openly share their thoughts and feedback. This helps managers to hear how employees have been doing in different aspects of work, and maximise their potential according to their needs.

With a holistic overview provided by these feedback management systems, business leaders can easily identify how employees have been doing, by noting patterns across multiple weeks.

These systems also allow for increased collaboration across organisational hierarchies. For example, an employee that belongs to multiple teams can consolidate their feedback across each team within the portal, which gives their supervisors better visibility into how they can support them in different capacities.

To be ready for a future that is still uncertain, companies must start a modernisation process that involves the acquisition of flexible technologies, the strategic key to face the next challenges and to make the company more resistant and ready for the challenges ahead.


Yvonne Teo is Vice President HR (APAC) at ADP and Srinivas Konidena is Vice President Global Product & Technology (APAC) at ADP

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