Society

HR issues raised when staff work from home

remote

Woman working from home. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The knowledge and skills that the labour force brings into the business is considered as capital that is known as human capital.
  • What makes human resource management especially sensitive to a business is that it involves people.
  • Working remotely has become the norm for some businesses and it has shown that indeed it is possible for staff to work remotely without any repercussions on the quality of output.

Human resource is an important pillar of any business. As many leading entrepreneurs have noted, having the right staff is a key part of business success. Human resource has several components to it.

First, it is a resource that is people-centric. In this case, the staff members are considered as assets to the business.

The second component is that it deals with human capital. The knowledge and skills that the labour force brings into the business is considered as capital that is known as human capital.

Over the years human resource management has evolved and continues to evolve. What makes human resource management especially sensitive to a business is that it involves people.

One of the changes in human resource management is the increased activism in the labour force. As human rights activism increases generally, the same shall find its way in the workplace. As a result, the employee of today is more empowered and aware of their rights.

Businesses, therefore, have to shift operations to make room for recognition of these human rights. A lot of labour cases involve some breach of fundamental human rights such as the right to fair hearing, freedom from discrimination, right to be treated with dignity and many other rights.

Human resource personnel ought to be acquainted with the bill of rights and find out how best to express these in their practices.

The #MeToo movement was a global campaign against sexual discrimination in the workplace. A lot of senior officials in diverse businesses were negatively affected when details of their sexual discrimination and harassment practices were exposed. The business that employed these officials suffered a lot of reputational damage. The #MeToo campaign showed more than ever increased human rights activism in the workplace.

The Covid-19 pandemic revealed an emerging trend in businesses. That is the rise of the remote worker. Working remotely has become the norm for some businesses and it has shown that indeed it is possible for staff to work remotely without any repercussions on the quality of output.

Working remotely raises new human resource management issues. Firstly, for an organisation to be effective at it, there needs to be adequate ICT infrastructure as this is what will support it. Some issues that arise with working remotely include data privacy issues.

A lot of data is shared to support remote working. Remote working creates an increased need for data privacy compliance. Human resource management ought to ensure that data privacy laws are adhered to.

To properly streamline and harmonise remote working then I recommend a remote working policy. Issues to be covered include changes in working hours and location. There needs to be clear supervision despite the remote working conditions. Work ethics and discipline still need to be maintained, for example, maintaining a good dress code when interacting with clients. Remote working may mean less risk for the employer in so far as occupier’s liability is concerned.

An emerging trend in all sectors is increased digitisation and automation. This has an impact of the staff who interface with automated processes. Increased digitisation may have a positive effect on performance and productivity as it will enable the staff to perform their tasks more efficiently, faster and with fewer human errors.

Digitisation may also have a negative impact on staff in terms of redundancies.

Automated processes and artificial intelligence may mean that some staff will be laid off. It is important for human resource personnel to consider the risk of increased digitisation to the labor force. If redundancy is considered, then it ought to be in line with the law.