You don’t have to look far to find remote working in the news. There are countless articles examining its impact on our lives and sharing predictions for the road ahead, with almost universal agreement that it’s here to stay. In fact, social media tool, Buffer, found that 98% of officer workers would like the option to work remotely for the rest of their careers.

Remote working during the pandemic has served to highlight some of the changes already underway within organizations and accelerated many priorities for HR. As we enter a new era of work, here are just a few of those changes facing HR teams and what they should focus on to motivate and engage their workforce.

A universally agile working experience

The need for greater responsiveness in HR is of paramount importance, especially for those operating across multiple markets. HR teams have been faced with demands for a more personalized approach to working, with flexible and remote working options becoming an increasingly common part of benefits packages as a result.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this dramatically, forcing entire workforces to work from home on an unprecedented scale – throwing up unforeseen requirements around childcare, proper working spaces and adopting new technologies. HR teams have had to think and act quickly.

Emerging from the disruption will require continued agility as different markets get back on their feet at different rates, with variations likely across countries and cities. It’s essential that HR teams respond to new and diverse needs quickly and in a way that guarantees a positive employee experience across the board.

Data-driven decision making

As we step into the ‘new normal’, there will be a significant divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ when it comes to analytics capability and benefits technology. In fact our research found that last year 31% of organizations report a lack of data literacy in the HR team.

The ability to understand what employees want and how their needs are changing will be hugely valuable to businesses as they navigate ongoing uncertainty. Having the data on hand to give this insight and provide a picture of how employees are interacting with their benefits offerings will unlock informed decision making.

Those with robust analytics already in place will be in a stronger position to balance employee needs against those of the wider business. For those who are yet to begin their analytics journey, there’s no time like the present. Getting ahead now will mean a more resilient and responsive HR offering down the line.

Prioritizing wellbeing

Employee wellbeing is, and will continue to be, more important than ever. Research by Cigna Europe shows how working from home during lockdown has increased overall job satisfaction and reduced work-related stress by 10% compared to the start of the year. This drop is a positive sign, but there’s still work to be done.

For many looking to provide personalized support to employees, technology holds the solution. That could mean embracing intelligent, data-driven platforms that can tailor the benefits experience and connect people with the right support when they need it most.

Wellbeing needs will vary considerably now and in the months to come. While employers can’t solve all problems, employees will remember how they were treated during the disruption of the pandemic. When markets begin to bounce back there’s likely to be hot competition for talent. Those with a positive experience of the support they received are much more likely to feel satisfied with their employer and loyal to the company.

Final thoughts

As we look ahead to the future of HR, we will continue to see significant changes to workplace benefits and ways of working. The foundations laid prior to the pandemic have put many in good stead. But to fully prepare for the enhanced role of HR, teams must continue to build their momentum and digitize for a new world of work.