Redefining HR for the Post-Covid Future of Work
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The evolution of HR has largely been iterative. What if Covid is the big reset needed to build agile teams that fundamentally change how we support our business and employees?
Covid-19 hit the field of HR like a runaway locomotive. Seemingly overnight our work constructs, programs, and procedures were upended in the sudden shift to remote at scale. For most of us, our operations have somewhat normalized (whatever that means in the midst of a global pandemic) and we’ve begun plotting what’s next.

“Head of Remote” is one of the hottest new jobs in the field, but it doesn’t end there. We have to take a close look at how our pre-pandemic org structures and practices serve us today, drop those that don’t, and build anew where our business and employees need us.

We love a good whiteboard. Big thinking exercises that stretch our ideas of what’s possible.

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The resources below are designed to spark conversation, thinking, and ideas around how the field of HR can evolve and grow to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.

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Org Design
Building on my personal experience leading distributed organizations, and my deliberate study of highly-remote organizations over the past six months, two key factors informed my approach to strategy development outlined below.
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Novartis now offers many associates the choice to decide how, where and when they work* to create the greatest impact for their role while taking personal responsibility to inform managers and align with teammates for effective collaboration, based on the nature of their work.
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The smartest, most transparent, and most progressive companies transitioning to remote will hire an executive to lead their journey in the next one to two years. This hire (or the lack thereof) will be a litmus test to job seekers who expect remote work to be supported, not merely allowed.
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Company Plans
As time passes by, it’s clear work and life are changing in significant ways. COVID-19 has weakened the network effects of cities across the world. More and more people are winding down their overpriced leases and moving elsewhere to save money or be near loved ones. These trends, along with Figmate feedback, motivated us to make some big changes. Once offices are safe to open again, we’re moving towards a hybrid model, where we offer both in-person and remote work options. This is a departure from the mostly in-person approach we had before COVID.
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Future of HR Resources
Exploring a range of possible new HR jobs as we redesign the field post-pandemic
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Even before the changes brought by 2020—particularly COVID-19—companies that were early to adopt and understand how to engage
successfully gained a competitive advantage. Now that remote work has become the new normal rather than a rare exception, businesses that can pivot and play to their distributed teams’ strengths will gain traction.
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Our North American leader talks work flexibility amid COVID-19
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Benefits depend on where people work, and the kind of job they have, a new survey finds, highlighting disparities that predate the pandemic.
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Performance
You may have conducted hundreds of performance reviews over the course of your career, but in the era of Covid-19 everything is different. You and your team have been working remotely for months now in an extremely difficult situation. How do you begin to evaluate your employees’ performance at such a challenging time? How much should you consider the impact of Covid-19 on your assessment? And how do you make sure you’re fair-minded given everyone’s different circumstances?
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In this article, we provide some options, perspectives, and things to consider before you close out your current or begin your next performance cycle.
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At many companies, June is usually the time when mid-year reviews are held. This year, however, employees are facing a number of stressors that are outside of their control — from the ongoing challenges created by COVID-19 to the recent reports of violence against Black communities and the ensuing protests against racial inequality. Because of that, some talent leaders have questioned whether it’s fair to proceed with performance reviews as planned.
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Pre-COVID-19 assessments were easier to deliver because many times teams were in the same workplace. But interactions aren’t as visible when they’re done over Slack or email, says Staples. As a result, leaders must take a more intentional approach to gather information and connect with employees.
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69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. Nearly one-quarter of employees that don’t feel recognized when they do great work have interviewed for a job in the last three months, compared to just 12% that do feel recognized. And recognition is the number one thing employees say their manager could give them to inspire them to produce great work.
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Recalibrating key performance indicators (KPIs) is essential to ensuring that remote work actually works. Enterprises that want the best from their workers — and for their customers — innovatively invest in digital accountability, but these efforts must acknowledge and respect newly blurred distinctions between work and home life. Digitally colonizing people’s homes is not an option; workforce mood and morale matter. Thoughtful leaders grasp the need for a healthy coexistence.
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A few companies are intentionally separating rating and pay decisions during COVID-19. They point to the mixed messages an employee receives when getting a rating that does not align with their performance. This misalignment leaves companies more exposed to potential litigation if they later sever employees due to performance.
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Learning
Consider the following alternative strategies to keep investing in employee development when you don't have the same budget anymore.
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As businesses around the world postpone and cancel in-person meetings in response to the novel coronavirus (or SARS-CoV-2), which causes the COVID-19 disease, workplace learning is emerging as one of the earliest and hardest-hit business activities. Based on our observations as of early March, roughly one-half of in-person programs through June 30, 2020, have been postponed or canceled in North America; in parts of Asia and Europe, the figure is closer to 100 percent.
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Some may find remote working beneficial for the organization and decide to continue to operate with a remote workforce or a hybrid of office and home working. This shift may create challenges for managers looking to maintain workplace learning among employees. Here are a few ways in which leaders can evolve their training and development programs to reflect this shift.
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Because in-person training may not be an option during the COVID-19 era, many companies might assume that online training is the only choice. In fact, many HR departments were already relying on e-learning before the pandemic. According to LinkedIn's 2019 Workplace Learning Report, 59 percent of survey respondents reported spending a larger percentage of their training budgets on online learning and 39 percent reported spending less on instructor-led classroom training between 2017 and 2019.
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Recruiting
This article is an excerpt from our Twist Remote Work Guide,
. Read the full guide and stay for other resources on
,
, and
Each guide is infused with months of research on best practices for distributed teams and includes expertise from the top remote and distributed companies in the world including Buffer, Stripe, GitLab, Help Scout, AngelList, and more!

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Over the past few weeks, the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has undoubtedly impacted all aspects of modern business practice. In fact, according to Gartner, it’s estimated that as many as 88% of organizations have either encouraged or required their employees to work from home – numbers that are indicative of a first-of-its-kind virtual workforce around the world. What’s more, some industries are experiencing an increase in demand for workers, and they are working hard to hire – aggressively. Just consider grocery chains, pharmacies, companies that provide technology to enable virtual work, and, of course, hospitals.
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Talent acquisition teams are having to adapt their hiring practices accordingly, putting an immediate stop to face-to-face interviews and adopting virtual processes instead. Under these strange new circumstances it’s imperative that we don’t lose the human touch while doing so, especially in regions going through strict quarantine measures that are leaving candidates (and the population at large) feeling isolated.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shifted how businesses operate. Around the country, business leaders, colleagues, and candidates are going into self-isolation in accordance with CDC guidance. Given the critical need for social distancing, handshakes and face-to-face interviews are no longer appropriate.
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Before each hire, I spend time sourcing and reaching out to passive candidates to get them excited about the role we’re about to hire and to build out a more diverse pipeline before we’re ready to launch. It’s imperative to send each candidate a personalized outreach email that shares some of the highlights of the role while also giving meaningful examples about why they’d want to work at Help Scout.
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If you’re one of the companies still hiring in the midst of the pandemic, you’re likely going about it in a new way. From where you’re looking for talent to the interview and onboarding process, social distancing is impacting recruiting in a myriad of ways, and just how much will depend on your industry.
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Here is some insight into the approach we’re taking to manage the candidate experience with empathy and transparency at my organization, Cigna, during the COVID-19 crisis.
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Scaling Your Remote Team: The Remote Guide to Hiring (Twist)

However, hiring the best across borders isn’t without its challenges. Additionally, once you’ve made a great hire, proper onboarding is crucial for keeping them. This guide will distill down the lessons we’ve learned in growing our team at Doist to 69 people across 25 countries and 52 cities. We’ve also included advice from remote teams like Help Scout, Buffer, Automattic, and WeWorkRemotely on how they’ve scaled their teams.
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