HRM Strategies for the Post Covid Era and the New Normal of Virtual Workplaces

Why HRM Needs a Paradigm Shift to Deal with the Challenges of the New Normal

Like other functions in corporates in the present times, the Human Resources or the HR function too faces challenges adjusting to the New Normal brought on due to the Covid Pandemic.

Right from supervising employees working from home, to ensuring payroll processes are kept running, to devising ways and means of conducting trainings, there are myriad challenges for the HR Managers as they navigate the turbulence of the Post Covid world.

Moreover, HR Managers must double up as Business Continuity Personnel as well since they form a vital bridge between the employers and the employees.

In addition, HR Managers have to ensure logistics and supply chain aspects of the WFH or the Work from Home arrangements through coordinating with the Admin function by procuring laptops and delivering them to employees, setting up VPNs or the Virtual Private Networks by liaising with the Tech Support.

All these activities that were hitherto compartmentalized now have to be done with the HR Function as the Fulcrum through which they Pivot.

Indeed, it can be said that HRM in the New Normal requires a Paradigm Shift in thinking and action.

Teleworking, Flexworking, and the Emergence of the Post Covid Workforces

Moreover, the Post Covid Era would in all likelihood usher in the Age of Flexworking and Teleworking wherein the former entails hiring on demand and for project purposes rather than full time employment whereas the latter demands new skills from the HR managers as they grapple with activities such as Training and Development for the employees in a Virtual Workplace setting.

Elaborating on these points, it is almost certain that the Era of Full Time and Pay and Perks is over and more and more, corporates would turn to Gig Workers and Temps to meet their Staffing requirements.

This calls for a new approach to things like deciding on the compensation to be paid to such resources as well as a Creative approach to People Management.

As for Training and People Development in the Virtual Workforce model, an entirely new dimension of conducting Trainings over Zoom or equivalent media means that HR Managers have to Think Out of the Box.

Indeed, recent news reports suggest that many corporates are investing in finding a reliable, secure, and seamless medium for conducting everything from Team Meetings to Trainings to even All Hands Meets. This needs close collaboration between all the Support Functions.

How Hitherto Routine HR Processes Become Difficult in Lockdowns and Disruptions

Apart from this, it is clear that the Post Covid Era would also need a Mindset Change from the HR personnel as they have to devise ways and means to supervise the Virtual Workforce.

For instance, how can HR Managers know whether Teams are productive and Well Functioning in the absence of Face to Face and Physical contact?

Moreover, how do they initiate Disciplinary Action that is usually preceded by a Warning that is delivered in one on One Meetings?

Of course, while it is easy to say that these aspects can still be done in a Digital Setting, it would certainly be challenging to Adjust to the New Normal.

Indeed, the operative term is Adjusting to the New Normal and this is where the Mettle of the HR function is tested.

Consider the Payroll Process. Usually the HR Function has dedicated staffs who liaise with the Banks and the internal stakeholders for Signoffs and when there are Lockdowns and other Disruptions, it becomes hard and difficult for these activities to be smooth and seamless.

Indeed, Seamless processing of all aspects of the HR function is the Central Challenge in the Post Covid Era and this needs a new approach.

Why Governments Must Usher in Laws to Address the Needs of the Present Covid Times

We have been harping on the Paradigm Shift needed and it is not only from the Corporates but also from the External Stakeholders that cooperation is needed. For instance, the Government is already amending labour laws to take cognizance of the New Normal.

From Changing Working Hours to allowing Fully Remote Workforces, to the All Important Nod to Hiring and Firing of Employees at Will, we are entering unchartered territory. The challenges of the present need Clear Vision and a Strong Willed Sense of Mission and Purpose.

These in turn call for extra effort from the HR function. There is another dimension that is emerging as a challenge and it relates to the Legal issues surrounding WFH.

For instance, Data Theft by employees who have access to Confidential Information, Fraud and other offenses that are easier to commit and harder to detect in Virtual Workforces are some issues that need the HR Managers to be Extra Vigilant.

In addition, Appraisals and Performance Improvement Plans need more Diligence. Another challenge is Vertical Communication between Senior Leadership and the Rank and File and Horizontal and Cross Functional coordination and collaboration that need monitoring.

In short, managing the smooth transmission of organizational communication.


Last, the HR Managers would also have to devise new Reporting Structures as Remote Workforces need Agile Methodologies that can happen only with Flexible and Flat organizational structures.

In addition, All Hands Meets and Town Hall events would need to be done virtually posing challenges in streamlining Time Zone differences and other such aspects.

Moreover, the End of Normal Living needs a New Approach to Managing Employee Health and Wellbeing that also includes Employees Contracting Covid.

Indeed, this, by far is the Most Pressing Challenge for any Corporate. To conclude, we are in difficult times that call for extraordinary leadership.

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