The global experiment in remote working has proven to be a resounding success. However, two roles in today’s organizations have been impacted significantly – the Chief Technology Officer and the Chief Human Resources Officer.
While the CTOs have a playbook that is somewhat ready to use, CHROs are struggling with unprecedented challenges; from lack of over-arching policies, structures, processes, compliances and performance metrics to adapting the work force to work in the new normal.
The disconnect between the younger generation’s loathing for the ‘babu-culture’ has only served to widen this rift and heighten the preference for remote work.
To start with, CHROs need to think about the impact of remote work on the plethora of Labour Laws across the Centre, States and UTs that require hundreds of different filings. The impact spreads across the statutory records under various acts that regulate hours of work, remuneration, holidays, leaves, terms of employment and other conditions and the statutory records rolls and registers that require to be maintained. Obviously none of the underlying processes for any of these account for remote work.
“The Indian government has recognised this and is working on a long-term strategy to enable remote work but a structured and automated process will be essential to sustain the long term”, says Nishant Shah.
Nishant Shah is Founder and Managing Partner of Jackstien Practices and Consulting International, leaders in remote and hybrid work consulting.
“Remote work needs to be approached from the ground-up with scientific rigour that scopes in the specific organization’s industry, work-force, macro-economic standing, revenue, technology, legal and statutory environment. Piece-meal approaches just land up shifting the problems instead of solving them. That said, here at Jackstien Practices, we start evaluation of all other aspects at the same time as we start revamping processes around employment regulations and Labour Codes” says Nishant.
Thereafter come the issues with people training. Distributed teams unable to work well together has always been an issue but gets a whole new meaning with remote work. With some employees considering remote work as an excuse to lounge, be unavailable, unresponsive or uncommunicative, companies are facing severe issues in adapting their workforce to the new ways of work.
Worse, organizations that have reacted to such employee behaviour by forcing a return to the old ways of working have suddenly see a spurt in resignations as employees head in droves to other organizations and employers offering remote work options. The cost of recruitment and training spirals further, adding to the woes of the CHRO.
It is not a pleasant time for CHROs and the struggle for retention in some industries has reached epic proportions. Many in the service industry already see a huge drop in revenue on account of escalating talent costs. This is only adding to the troubles, with CHROs on the frontline bearing the brunt of these changes even as they struggle to comprehend the challenges of the new normal.
When asked about this state of affairs, “The situation is acute but unlikely to improve soon. Resolving it needs a structured plan.” says Nishant Shah. Jackstien Practices is working with several CHROs currently.
The role of the CHRO has never been an easy one to straddle, but with the challenges of the new age of work, the situation is bleak and the plight of the CHRO never worse.