Strategy & LeadershipHR StrategyGlobal talent mobility technology must power remote working policies

Global talent mobility technology must power remote working policies

HRD speaks to Steve Black, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Topia, to find out how one of the leading global talent mobility technology platforms holds the key for HR leaders to successfully manage hybrid working.

The global pandemic brought fundamental changes to workplaces around the world. The demand and desire for hybrid and flexible working from new hires is now an expected part of any job description, and it is here to stay.

Employees at all levels, across many sectors, who benefitted from flexible working during the pandemic are now keen to experience those same benefits as the world starts to open up again. In many cases, these new approaches to work have created fresh opportunities for staff to reconsider where they work from more permanently, with options to work from other countries increasingly viable.

Fewer employees want to return to the office full time and employers are battling to find the ideal solution to get the best out of a hybrid approach. The Future Forum Pulse, a global study by the Future Forum, shows 78 percent of employees want flexibility where they work, and 95% want flexibility when they work.

From multi-jurisdiction payroll reporting to effectively managing a globally mobile workforce at scale, there are a whole host of considerations for HR team when staff members want to change locations.

Businesses are dealing with hundreds of applications to work remotely, but as each situation is different, this is causing difficulties for human resource teams. One company helping organisations overcome this challenge is Topia, a technology provider offering a global talent mobility platform that uses existing company data to assess whether remote working is viable, where workers could be based and identify any associated risks with remote work for the employee and the organisation.

“Our platform allows organisations to automatically analyse data such as job level, locations, performance data and citizenships,” says Steve Black, co-founder of Topia. “We then serve up a map of the world offering red, amber and green places where employees can work remotely. This factors in company policy as well as immigration and tax implications.”

One crucial part of designing a successful remote working policy is setting clear boundaries so employees know from the outset who has access to remote working and rules can be consistently applied across the organisation.

Technology can make this process more streamlined – for instance, Topia’s platform allows employees to filter out locations they are not permitted to work, which reduces the number of applications that can never be successful to HR departments.

“I’ve seen polices that require at least one year of tenure, block anyone on a performance improvement plan and require employees to be plus or minus two time zones from their home location.” Black says.

At a time when businesses need to focus on attracting and retaining staff, employee experience could not be more of a priority. Organisations which provide a “generic form” to submit flexible working requests, Black says, are delivering a poor employee experience.

Topia’s software provides employees an opportunity to explore options and get a quick answer on whether they are eligible to work remotely, without huge amounts of manual work for HR teams.

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What employees really think about flexible work

While it’s clear that changing employee expectations are driving these shifts in working practices, what do they really think about flexible working and what are the nuances that HR teams and their wider teams need to be aware of?

To help HR teams navigate this new landscape more confidently, Topia has just released the findings of their third annual Adapt Survey which helps employers understand how employee expectations around their working practices are changing and how they match – or don’t – with their internal HR experiences.

The survey asked over 1400 employees and 300 HR professionals in knowledge-based industries, from across the UK and the US, about work.  Ninety-six percent of employees surveyed ranked flexibility and work location as key when finding a new job.

“Our survey is full of insights like this and is aimed at helping HR leaders really get to grips with where there may be a disconnect between existing working practices and employee expectations,” he adds.

Helping HR teams get to grips with mobility-based compliance issues

Ensuring companies can keep pace with employee expectations and create an effective approach to hybrid and flexible working approaches is key, but just as vital is ensuring compliance. This encompasses both external regulatory compliance and staff compliance with internal policies. However, monitoring compliance when staff are working remotely can be a challenge.

 Topia’s Adapt Survey found 90 percent of HR staff were convinced employees would report their change in working location, whereas only 33 percent of employees surveyed said they had reported all their days working outside of their home state or country.

 “The results showed a massive gap between perception and reality between HR and employees – representing significant risk for companies.” Black says, suggesting employees may have been unsure whether they needed to report, and who they should report to.

“In mainland Europe it matters if staff are commuting from different countries.  When people are not in the same place Monday to Friday it creates a risk and a challenge, but employees are demanding it,” Black says, “and 49% of HR professionals said they’d lost people due to inadequate remote work policies”.

Better use of data allows for more flexibility

Using employee data has the potential to allow greater flexibility and mitigate compliance risks, but companies need to tread carefully.

“No-one wants their employers tracking their every move but when a company tracks at state or city level, our survey found that 93 percent of employees were comfortable being tracked,” Black says.

Technology’s role in a flexible future

As the world of work refocuses in response to the global pandemic, Black and the Topia team believe businesses that are looking to create flexible working policies will have an advantage over those that do not.

“It’s clear from the data that employees will leave jobs if they are not getting what they want, and a big part of that is flexibility,” Black says. “This year will be about organisations figuring out their fluid, flexible policies in a world of compliance and operational challenges.”

Policies will need to be consistently refined, and to do that, businesses will need technology which can connect seamlessly with existing systems and provide HR with data crucial to successfully implement remote working practises at scale.

To read Topia’s latest Adapt Report, click here.

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