July 13, 2021

Challenges of a hybrid work model

Organisations should not be expecting a return to the pre-pandemic world of work. Here, Patrick Luther, Principal, Financial Services at Ceridian shares a four-part playbook to overcoming the challenges of hybrid work models and what employers can do moving forward.

Almost as soon as the pivot to remote work happened at the start of the pandemic, people began speculating that the change might be here to stay. This gave way to differing opinions on whether remote work is really the best way forward. Some companies fully embraced the switch as a permanent change early on, foreseeing benefits such as improved cash flow via reduced real estate footprint and wider access to talent by removing geographic constraints, while others held firm that it kills culture, harms productivity, and stalls innovation.

Disruption over the last year has empowered many organisations and workforces to make rapid decisions to adapt to change more easily. Moving forward, employers should not expect work environments and practices to snap back to a pre-pandemic reality.

As companies gear up for the return to work, some workforces will stay fully remote, some will return fully to the office, and others will embrace a hybrid approach. A Ceridian study found 27% of organisations are currently working in a hybrid model, while 34% are working remotely. Another new study found more than half of Gen Y workers are looking to quit their jobs. 

This means that remote work is no longer an option for many firms – it’s a requirement to gain access to the right talent.

Here’s a four-part playbook to help overcome the challenges of a hybrid work model so organisations can keep on top of compliance, gain access to the right talent, and create a better experience for their people. 

Tax and compliance legislation

As the pandemic spread around the globe, many employees moved farther away from the city to protect the health and safety of themselves and their families. In a post-pandemic world of work, some organisations are even implementing ‘work from anywhere’ policies for people in appropriate roles within their workforce.

While firms now have access to more talent across the globe, they will need to handle the nebulous tax and compliance scenarios that arise from having people in multiple jurisdictions – for example, living in one country and working in another. In addition to keeping track of where employees are working in order to determine the appropriate regional tax rules, employers may also need to understand whether and how often employees are coming into the office, and which office they’re working from. It goes without saying that different countries have different taxation rules, so employers would need to accurately track and apply these to maintain compliance.

Many employees in more modernised industries, such as the tech sector, already experienced a hybrid work model prior to the pandemic; however, adopting it is a new challenge for firms that have traditionally required their people to come in to a physical location. These organisations may need additional support and tools to handle the administrative burden of increased compliance complexity associated with the hybrid work model. Investing in the right payroll and tax software can help organisations manage compliance as the workforce becomes increasingly mobile, and deliver a more consistent pay experience for employees.

The new war for talent

The war for talent has been reignited coming out of the pandemic. Organisations can take advantage of the increased number of candidates that wil be looking for work by expanding their talent searches beyond their immediate geographic locations. Employers can now source more candidates to find the best fit without having a regional constraint.

Offering hybrid work options can also help organisations attract the best talent. It affords employees more flexibility, as well as reduced commute times in many cases, which can contribute to overall employee satisfaction with work/life balance. It may also give employees more options for where they can choose to live.

As the workforce becomes increasingly dispersed and employees are able to live farther from the office, firms will be competing with other organisations for in-demand talent. Innovative recruiting software can help employers find talent, quickly send out offers, and get new hires up to speed faster. An efficient recruiting process can also signal to candidates that the company is committed to investing in the employee experience, as these early interactions foreshadow what candidates can expect once they’re hired on.

Get the report: 2021 Pulse of Talent: What today’s employees want and need

A disconnected workforce

Hybrid work can mean less face-to-face time in the office, which may create communication barriers. Without the right digital technology to keep a pulse on the workforce, it will be hard for leaders to gauge employee sentiment, engagement, and work satisfaction, which can contribute to a more disconnected workforce.

Organisations can create a more inclusive experience for remote and hybrid employees by learning what employees need and identifying challenges as they arise. This can be accomplished by surveying employees, and leveraging employee engagement software that can make it easier to do so at a regular frequency. These technologies can help firms improve their retention strategies by identifying problem areas and providing data to make more strategic decisions. Employee sentiment and analysis tools can also help organisations understand employees’ stress levels, and measure the impact of any changes or new programs. 

Leaders can also better connect with their workforce to ensure everyone is well informed on company news and policies, and that employees have the right resources available to them when they need it – such as training courses and employee handbooks. Online information hubs can help to create a central place for all employees to access important information curated from across the organisation, helping to connect people together. The result is even better if these can be personalised.

Pay inequity

Working remotely is a significant benefit that may even help employees enjoy lower transportation and housing costs. Employers should consider rethinking their existing compensation strategies and potentially factor hybrid work into employees’ total rewards packages. Gaining a more holistic view of payroll data across the organisation can help leaders make more informed pay decisions to ensure all employees are being paid fairly and accurately, every time – no matter where they’re working from.

Organisations can also provide their workforce with greater transparency when it comes to how their pay is determined. Access to competitive salary benchmarking data for a particular role is a key part in providing this transparency as it arms recruiters and managers with the data they need to have conversations around how total rewards packages are structured in this new world of work.

Learn more: Leveraging a single, cloud-based solution for global payroll

The hybrid future of work

As we enter a post-pandemic world, leaders must be able to overcome the challenges of flexible work to maximise its benefits for employees and the business. This starts with putting the workforce at the centre of everything – from recruiting and onboarding to engagement and compensation. Innovative human capital management solutions can help employers build a better experience for a dispersed workforce. In fact, during the pandemic, two thirds (65%) of organisations adopted remote work technology to help address the new needs of employees, according to Ceridian’s soon to be released study. To drive success in the hybrid future of work, firms will need the right technology to help build more people-centric experiences.

Patrick Luther

Patrick Luther is Vice President and Principal, Financial Services at Ceridian. He has over 10 years of experience in product management and marketing of enterprise software, and 10+ years in consulting for the financial services sector. Patrick is a former U.S. Navy Lieutenant, and has held leadership roles at IBM, Rational, Infosys, Deloitte, and various SaaS startups. Patrick holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Rochester and an MBA from Yale.

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