HR management in transition: Automated, remote and virtual

HR management in transition: Automated, remote and virtual


The expectation for the digitalization of HR departments has never been as great as it is today. To increase their effectiveness, companies must keep up with changing trends and innovations. […]

At the latest since the beginning of the pandemic, the topic of “remote work” has been on everyone’s lips. When implementing new digital solutions, the main question is therefore whether home office makes their work easier for employees. Because it is now clear that it has no influence on performance, whether the employees are sitting in the office or in their own four walls to work.

Location-independent recruiting

Due to the pandemic, many companies have switched to remote work. It has been shown that the location of a company is no longer an obstacle.  This new freedom not only improves the work-life balance of employees. As a result, companies are also increasing the talent pool from which they can draw. Therefore, in order to be able to compete in the intensified competition for qualified specialists, you should quickly adapt to the new world of work. Job seekers are more inclined to consider employers that allow flexible and virtual forms of work.

Digital HR processes from the first applicant contact

In view of the increasing number of remote employees, however, it is above all important to adapt all areas of human resources to the new working world. This is most easily achieved when the entire life cycle of an employee, from the first contact with a recruiter, through talent management and payroll processing to online offboarding, is seamlessly digitized. Thus, more and more often employees are hired who may never enter the office of their employer. In order to be able to equip new employees with the required hardware as well as remote access to the company servers in a timely manner, all the equipment must be sent from the IT department to the private address. For an employee who lives in another city, a courier service is usually cheaper than covering travel and accommodation costs. In addition, fast and reliable remote connectivity with access to all the necessary tools is indispensable for smooth work in the home office. This is confirmed by eight out of ten respondents in the Workforce Mindset study by Alight.

However, getting to know each other in person is often neglected during remote onboarding. Because introducing new faces via video conference is not enough for many employees, as the study “The Era of Agile HR” by Alight shows. When implementing a remote work policy, companies should consider the employees in the office and in the home office equally, so that contact with each other is not neglected. An adequate working environment helps to structure everyday life with the right processes.

Lack of preparation for digitalization

In order to keep up with the increasing automation of processes, employees who are responsible for traditional routine tasks in particular have to be prepared to learn new skills. For 60 percent of today’s jobs, at least one third of the tasks will be automated by 2025. 40 Percent of today’s qualifications will be partly or even completely outdated. Employees and especially young talents are therefore required to acquire digital skills in a targeted manner. There is obviously still a need for action here: One in four respondents to the study “The Era of Agile HR” by Alight believes that the education system is not adequately preparing young people for the digital age.

New means of communication

The use of telephone and e-mail is still widespread in most companies. However, the pandemic required a rethinking: In order to enable secure exchange between employees even remotely, additional digital means of communication are increasingly in demand – for example messenger services, chatbot services for general queries as well as video conferencing and collaboration tools. One in three respondents confirmed to Alight that their company has implemented new tools for remote communication since March 2020. The pandemic-related switch to purely virtual communication was initially a challenge for many employees. In the meantime, however, many see it as an enrichment. Virtual conference rooms are now replacing on-site meetings, and the use of video telephony promotes cohesion. Especially for new starters, such functions are important in order to feel part of the team from the very beginning.

Virtual Employee Management

Another way to optimize internal workflows is to use cloud-based HCM systems (Human Capital Management). This allows the HR department to manage the entire life cycle of an employee from the first contact in the application phase to his departure. Professional development opportunities and further training measures can also be identified with an HCM system if certain qualifications are required for new positions. Due to the increase in competitiveness and the targeted use of talents, the HR department of a company is at least as important as production today.

Continuous Performance Management (CPM) has been playing an increasingly relevant role since 2020. With appropriate tools, employees and team leaders can regularly view and optimize their performance goals. For companies, this not only means a simplification of remote management, but also enables the agile adaptation of goals as well as training and development offers. Companies could already benefit from the collected CPM data in the next few years, as they will be able to recognize the requirements for certain positions more quickly and react promptly with further training and additional recruiting processes.

The future of HR is digital

In this dynamic time, we are experiencing first-hand how automation is progressing. This is changing the way we create employee experiences. But the employer-employee relationship also needs to be rethought. The goal should be a greater individual autonomy of the employees.

In the future, remote work experience and virtual management qualifications will be more in demand in management positions. Therefore, HR systems are also increasingly used to support team leaders in the management of their employees. Remote work and automation are also important factors to remain competitive. Companies that cannot easily manage their employees virtually should consider modernizing their IT systems and software tools. Because the possibilities of new technologies will continue to keep communication in companies on their toes in the future.

*The author Sudhir Mitter is Country Lead DACH at Alight.

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