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The Future of Work (Term Paper Sample)

A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE SHIFT TOWARDS REMOTE WORK DUE TO THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC. This paper explores these issues in-depth with part I discussing the industries likely to undergo a permanent shift towards work from home. Part II discusses the possible changes in the nature of human resources, explores whether a global workforce will become the norm, the effect on employment relationships and compensation. source..
The Shift Towards Remote Work Name: Course: Professor: Institution: Date: The Shift Towards Remote Work The COVID 19 crisis has accelerated the adoption of remote work for millions of workers and organizations globally. The government-mandated lockdowns and travel restrictions have forced organizations, especially in the U.S.A and Europe, to embrace remote working. Technological advancements such as tools to collaborate and stay in touch have made this shift smooth, allowing millions of workers to work from their homes. Some industries have adopted a fully-remote policy while others have adopted a hybrid model, with some staff working from home while others are at the office. However, with expectations of containing COVID-19 in the future, organizations face the dilemma of fully-adopting remote work or gradually returning the staff to the offices. The shift to remote work has tremendous ramifications on the nature of human resources by affecting different aspects of the employment relationship. This paper explores these issues in-depth with part I discussing the industries likely to undergo a permanent shift towards work from home. Part II discusses the possible changes in the nature of human resources, explores whether a global workforce will become a norm, the effect on employment relationships and compensation. Part I: Industries Most Likely to be Affected in the Long-term The shift towards remote work will significantly affect the information technology (IT) and software development industry. Major technology companies such as Twitter, Square, Shopify, and Gitlab have communicated that employees can permanently work from home (Silva, 2020). Other companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have encouraged their staff to work remotely. As organizations get used to remote working, this trend will continue in the future, even after the COVID 19 crisis abates. The software development industry has previously made use of remote workers, and the COVID 19 crisis is leading to the permanent adoption of this trend. Numerous collaboration and social contact tools make it easy for individuals and teams in different locations to keep in touch and measure tasks' progress (Deshpande et al., 2016). Ford et al. (2020) found that a significant proportion of software developers remotely working reported being more productive (though some reported less productivity). They argue that as the practice increases in adoption, individuals will develop new strategies to enhance their productivity, such as setting up home offices to minimize distractions. Therefore, the perceived benefits of allowing employees to work from homes, such as improvements in productivity and the new tools to coordinate and collaborate, are likely to lead to a permanent shift to remote work in the IT and software development industry. The research and information services industry has adopted remote work, and it is likely to be affected significantly in the long-term. In this industry, firms provide advisory, research, and analytics to their clients on organizational functions such as marketing, finance, and operations management. Firms such as Gartner Inc and Gallup are leading in encouraging their employees to work from home. Companies such as EXL Service Research have allowed some staff working in India to work from home in the long-term. A key concern for these companies is managing their staff's productivity. They have created strict remote working policies to track employee progress. As a predominantly knowledge-intensive business service, firms in this industry will slowly transition to full remote work to benefit from lower operating costs and hiring a global workforce of skilled professionals. The education industry is also likely to be affected in the long-term by the recent shift to online learning. The COVID-19 crisis caused most governments to close down schools, and some states such as Washington decided to move all classes online (Dill et al., 2020). Numerous higher learning institutions have also shifted towards online classes where the instructors can deliver content right from their homes. Gulati (2020) identifies that the Chinese Government was successful in piloting and rolling out online classes to millions of students at all levels (K-12 and higher education), which signals the future of global learning. Some research suggests that online learning is more effective than the traditional learning model because it offers individualized and personalized learning, is based on competency, and is cost-effective compared to attending expensive colleges (Bakia et al., 2012; Mazoue 2013; Cowen & Tabarrok, 2014). Therefore, educational institutions and policymakers recognize that online learning is effective (compared to traditional learning). As a result, most students will likely take online classes from their remotely located instructors. Experts speculate that in the turn of the next century, most education will occur on e-learning platforms allowing students to access content from any university in the world (Balistreri et al., 2012). The media and publishing industry is another industry likely to be affected in the long run. There is a recent shift towards remote work for employees who carry out copywriting, editing, book reviewing, sensitivity reading, and proofreading in the publishing industry. However, some jobs in the sector are less likely to be remote, for instance, the warehouse workers. The shift towards remote work is also attributable to the rapid rise of the eBook market, which has radically changed the traditional publishing industry with retailers such as Amazon growing their market share. In the media industry, there is a shift towards remote work by most radio stations, and during the Corona epidemic, many newsrooms allowed their staff to broadcast from their homes. Media organizations such as CNN and the New York times encouraged their staff to stay at home, which is a likely practice for this industry. The customer management industry will also undergo a permanent shift towards remote working. Customer management companies mainly provide call center services, and some companies such as Alorica have adopted remote working. The company points out that its employees serve a global community right from their homes without a decline in productivity. The shift towards at-home agents lowers call center costs and improves employee satisfaction and retention by reducing commuting. This is a trend in most call centers globally where the companies provide devices such as laptops and internet connectivity to facilitate effective working from home by their staff. Part II: The possible changes in the nature of human resources Disruption in the Nature of Human Resources Human resource management has traditionally focused on staffing, organization of the workforce, performance measurement, and reward and compensation. It has performed these roles in a context where the employees are in a physical office with minimal remote work (Farndale et al., 2010). However, the COVID 19 crisis presents unique challenges that are changing the roles of the HR, and they include managing low levels of motivation and compensation policies (SIGMA & OECD, 2020). Managers worldwide express concerns that the shift towards remote work makes an organization lose its identity and culture and the sense of camaraderie. Choudhury (2020) identifies that the distribution of workers among many different locations inhibits social interactions and seamless communication. Another concern is that the shift towards remote work will make employees feel anxious, isolated, and disconnected from their colleagues. The shift towards remote work has been unexpected and stressful, especially for parents who have to deal with the extra child care responsibilities with schools closed (Carnavale & Hatak, 2020). Traditional HR departments are still coming up with terms of connecting with a remote workforce. The lack of in-person check-ups might make organizations miss signs of burn-out and team dysfunction. HR has to deal with this new reality of motivating remotely located employees, ensuring constant communication, a high sense of camaraderie, and improving productivity. Suggestions to help employees cope with the emotional and psychological effects of the sudden shift towards remote work include educating them to reduce stress. HR managers should constant check-ups on their staff and deliver regular and timely communication to provide updates on expectations and workplace changes (to provide visible leadership). Another suggestion for this new reality is to train managers and supervisors to adopt an empathetic approach in these difficult times and learn how to pay attention to signs of stress and low motivation over digital devices. Sull et al. (2020) emphasize that managers must learn to communicate well and frequently, for instance, weekly updates from the senior managers in the form of webinars or video updates rather than emails. Furthermore, they should provide constant emotional and social support by continually checking on their staff and organizing virtual social events. HR also has to contend with the new reality of measuring their remote workforce's performance and productivity. Organizations have used traditional performance measures that track effort and activity (working hours and timesheets), and such are inefficient in these uncertain times. As a result, organizations have to update their performance measurement systems to track outcomes rather than effort. Wigert & Barret (2020) identify that the traditional measures involved the managers setting annual goals, providing irregular and inconsistent feedback, basing recognition on performance, and conducting annual performance reviews. However, such a system is ineffective in the “new normal,” and HR faces the challenge of developing a collaborative, adaptive, and individu...
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