It’s been more than four months since COVID-19 struck throughout the United States. Since then, nearly everyone’s work and personal lives have changed significantly. Plans were delayed, then postponed, then cancelled. States have shut down, opened back up, and shut down again. As much as we all want to get back to normal, the reality is that we probably aren’t going to get there any time soon.
When the pandemic began the IT staff at many government agencies across the country were were doing everything they could to help agency employees do their jobs outside of the office. Public employees who were rarely, if ever, allowed to work remotely were suddenly being required to do so.
Now, five months into this, we know it’s possible that many agency staff members could be working remotely for another five months. In fact, there’s been a sea change on remote work across local, state and federal government, and it is likely to be accepted or even encouraged going forward.
Because remote work wasn’t a reality for most public employees until now, many agencies’ information systems don’t support it (or don’t support it well). Now that telework is a reality, however, that’s a serious disadvantage for remote workers. It’s likely that remote work will be a consideration in any future software acquisitions at many agencies, including HR software. Here are three things that software should provide if it’s going to support a partially remote workforce.
The most basic requirement is that all system functionality can be accessed remotely. Logging in to the system from home shouldn’t be any slower or result in reduced functionality. If HR software is more difficult to use remotely than it is in the office, remote workers will face an unnecessary productivity penalty. They may even delay tasks until their days in the office, lengthening timelines for task completion across the board. This is especially risky in HR where these slow downs could result in unhappy employees and continued employment law or contract violations.
There’s a natural exchange of information that happens inside of an office which helps create situational awareness among team members working on the same projects. Web meetings can only replace some of that awareness.
Properly configured software can bridge some of this gap by alerting team members as soon as a task, ticket or investigation becomes relevant to them. This could be an approval requirement, an unanswered employee request or even a shift in priorities. Great software can put the HR team member exactly where they need to be, rather than requiring them to navigate the user interface to find what they’re looking for.
At the same time, a telework-friendly agency also means that users won’t necessarily be in an office setting when they’re using the system. That means that agencies need to be fully confident that nobody inside or outside of the HR team views data they don’t have permission to view. Beyond network security, robust access permissions and audit logs are both key features to keep sensitive personnel data locked away from prying eyes.
HR documents often go through multiple revisions before they are finalized. They require input from multiple team members along with final approval from a high-level supervisor. The biggest flurry of activity often happens in the final few hours, especially if there is urgency to complete the task.
All of this makes it much more likely that information will get lost. Two people may open a file for editing simultaneously, and one user may overwrite the other’s changes. A person may accidentally add their edits to an old version, creating two branches of the file.
These problems can be prevented with a version tracking system, which ensures that everyone is working on the most recent version of a document. Ideally, the system will also maintain all historical versions of the document at least until the work product is finalized. This ensures that deletions can be restored if that content is deemed relevant at a later point.
To learn how CMTS:HR can help your HR team close investigations more efficiently (even when working remotely) call us at 919-747-3812 or email us at Team_CMTSHR@CMTSHR.com.