The Covid-19 pandemic caused major shifts in the way we work and do business, forcing payroll and HR leaders to rethink workforce planning, management, and to develop strategies to handle the future of work.
The pandemic disrupted companies across the board and led organisations to think differently about their people as they had to adjust, practically overnight, to social distancing practices and a new work environment that they could never have imagined.
This is according to Heinrich Swanepoel, head of sales at PaySpace. “When workforces headed home to work on an unprecedented scale, it became a case of fit in or hold on. There was huge pressure on HR teams in this growing environment – particularly when it came to scaling up or down.”
He says organisations had to switch to a remote work model at a pace and size never before seen in history. “Face-to-face collaboration was replaced with e-mail and video conferencing, the onboarding of new internal systems had to happen at a speed and level that no one expected. For example, there was a massive shift from manual to electronic payslips.”
HR managers had to do difficult work under trying circumstances and still find ways to collaborate and engage with employees while providing seamless onboarding and an all or nothing digital experience.
Organisations that have historically owned, maintained, and managed their IT operations in their own data centres are now evolving how they support their business operations by moving their IT and applications to cloud.
“The changes we saw this year will have a lasting impact on the way we work in several ways, and it is critical for HR professionals to evaluate the impact each new trend will have on their organisation’s operations and their strategic goals,” Swanepoel adds.
Speaking of the trends he sees moving forward, Swanepoel says the cloud will continue to be the foundation upon which most organisations’ digital transformation efforts are built, with the vast majority recognising the cloud as either important or crucial to their digital strategies.
“No one is in a hurry to get back to the office,” he adds. “Today’s workforce wants the ability to work from anywhere and to collaborate with colleagues as easily as they would in person. This isn’t going to change any time soon. Even before the pandemic led to a global remote workforce, an increasing number of business leaders understood the importance of flexible working to future-proof their organisation.”
This tremendous shift to the cloud is largely based on modern organisations’ desire for greater agility and flexibility, explains Swanepoel. “Until recently, organisations mostly looked at only new application development and deployment for cloud, taking a ‘cloud-first’ approach. But now, and going forward, many are turning towards a ‘cloud-now’ approach. This is accelerated by the demands of the modern workforce combined with the ongoing effects of the pandemic.”
In the months and years to come, he believes we will see an increasing number of organisations embracing agile working and digital technologies.
Speaking of what organisations should be mindful of with these changing trends and times, he says: “Meditational mindfulness means maintaining the moment by moment thoughts and feelings of your environment. This should apply to organisations too. Always be aware, and stay relevant. Trends come and go.”
However, he stresses that to mitigate risk, remaining agile is critical, and without the cloud there is no agility or scalability. “Cloud is at the heart of all digital transformation efforts, and if the pandemic taught us one thing, it was that organisations that were ahead on their cloud journeys thrived, while those that weren’t suffered and were left behind. With cloud there’s no lock-in or annual contracts as there are with legacy solutions. SaaS is consumption-based, and organisations always have access to the latest and greatest technologies, freeing up time to run the business and focus on innovation. They can let the software fill in the gaps where needed.”
In closing, he says there is always going to be new technology, new features and different generations. “However, bear in mind that e-mail, for example, is still being used today, although it has been around for fifty years. Organisations should never stop testing and should keep a close ear to the ground, and listen to their employees, because their feedback is critical during these times.
“It’s vital that business leaders understand that the large-scale shifts experienced during the pandemic are not over, and will continue to change how people work and how business gets done. Payroll and HR leaders who are agile, and can respond quickly and effectively, can ensure their organisation stands out from competitors.”