2020 has been a year to forget for many reasons, but it has also been a year of rapid, immense but–in the long-haul–ultimately good change. Businesses have had to adapt to an ever-changing work environment in a variety of different ways, encouraging creative new approaches to outmoded practices. Working from home has allowed for greater flexibility, but for many it has come at a price.
Setting aside the obvious economic effects the pandemic has had on businesses and employees, many workers (and bosses) have struggled with isolation during lockdown. This situation has been mitigated by the adoption of video communication applications like Zoom and broader access to faster internet connections, enabling people to keep in touch with work colleagues, friends and family regardless of location.
Technology’s role in the pandemic
As technology has aided the transition to a “new normal”, and workers have embraced remote working, platforms such as Zoom and Teams have become household names. By establishing an entirely new way to work under stringent pandemic restrictions, they’ve provided business with flexible solutions to managing a socially distanced workforce both now and in a post-pandemic world.
It’s inevitable that while a high proportion of employees have welcomed the opportunity to work remotely, new tech can be a barrier for some. New tech requires newer hardware, faster, more robust internet connections and at least some familiarity with software platforms. In some countries, government has stepped up to the plate; for example, the UK government offers guidance and support through its website, where extra funding is available for those without laptops or secure internet connections.
Taking all these factors into account, 2020 has presented businesses with a series of unprecedented challenges. As companies initially built on facilitating remote work and people management, Employer of Record services—such as Elements Global Services—have, through this transitional period, dealt with these swiftly, seamlessly and without incurring extra cost. Most importantly, employees remain unaffected by these changes, with no impact on employee benefits, payroll or contracts.
The disruption in global travel has had a monumental impact, not only on people, but also on businesses. This includes workers being forced to return to their native countries, in an attempt to weather the pandemic, but then being unable to return due to travel bans and restrictions.
Due to the complexity of immigration and tax laws, this can have serious repercussions for both the employer and the employee. For instance, in many countries, if an employee is forced to return home and continue work for over 183 days, the employee then becomes a tax resident in this jurisdiction; navigating the implications this has on both employer and employee can be convoluted and potentially detrimental.
That’s where technology comes into play. With agile tech-based HR solutions, such as EOR services, an employee can then be enrolled under a different entity in a different country, meaning their payroll, tax and social security contributions are 100% compliant.
While this is undoubtedly a cost-effective and -efficient means of tackling pandemic-related travel restrictions, it has implications on the way organizations operate in the future: not only does it ensure that both the employer and employee are safeguarded against unforeseen circumstances and potential compliance issues, but it’s also an attractive benefit for potential employees who would like to be able to travel and work freely, without compromising their contract. The latter is particularly significant given that positive employee experiences are increasingly at the forefront of companies’ minds these days.
Although the days of commuting to the office are, for now, put on hold, the emergence of a vaccine against COVID-19 means the return to the office is inevitable when it is safe to do so. But one of the biggest ramifications of the pandemic is set to reveal its true impact: employees would like to have the option to work from home more frequently, even after the pandemic, according to a recent survey of US workers by consulting firm PwC, which included responses from over 2,000 adults. And business leaders are listening: more than half (55%) of executives are expected to provide their employees with the option to work from home more regularly, and with 30% of them suggesting there is less of a need for office space, remote working is bound to become more of the norm than the exception.
HR Technology is Paving the Way Forward for Business in 2021
Technology has undoubtedly been the saving grace for businesses amid the pandemic, combatting and providing solutions for unprecedented issues. Businesses have had to be more flexible, and one positive to emerge from 2020 is the understanding that employee experience is fundamental to any successful business.
EOR services enable, and advocate for, this flexibility. Employers can tap into a massive talent pool while resting assured that their workers are managed in a compliant manner and that they are shielded from the uncertainties that come with global expansion. More importantly, employees can rest assured they, too, are safeguarded from turbulence and can work, live and (eventually) travel freely.
Not only did HR tech step up in 2020, but it has influenced a paradigm shift in the landscape of the work environment. As these systems are built “…for employees first, HR departments second“, this shift puts the employee, and their needs, first; an encouraging prospect for the future.
About Elements Global Services:
Elements Global Services is an award-winning HR technology & services company. Elements provides employment solutions in over 135 countries – covering everything from payroll, benefits, HR, local compliance to visa & mobility. Headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, Elements has a global network of offices and employees delivering innovative solutions to its growing customer base. Elements’ Direct Employer of Record model helps companies expand, onboard, manage & pay employees worldwide. Visit www.elementsgs.com, LinkedIn or Twitter for more information.