The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses, and more specifically HR teams, to rethink the way they approach the modern workplace. With remote working considered the new norm, organizations have had to consider new ways of ensuring the wellbeing of their employees while maintaining a certain level of connectivity. Adherence to the relevant employment legislation is also important when investing in new skills and technologies.

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Modern workplace: remote and flexible work arrangements

Remote working is a new pillar of the modern workplace. Jump-started by necessity as a result of Covid-19, larger numbers of employees are working remotely than ever before. While this brings a number of benefits, it’s important not to overlook the need for teams to stay connected and maintain a healthy work culture.

With this latest development in working norms, organizations need to invest in new leadership skills to support remote working. Encouraging employees to develop personal leadership characteristics and a digital growth mindset, as well as safeguarding the experience and overall wellbeing of employees, is crucial to long-term success in remote and flexible working arrangements.

A word to the wise: implementation of new technologies may also impact your employee functions and working time. It’s important to keep an eye on this, as strict employment law rules must be followed and social dialogue is often required before and during the introduction of any changes. KPMG Law can support you in finding pragmatic approaches when considering changes to existing working arrangements, as well as helping you to make sure that you are fully compliant with the latest regulation.

The remote working trend has accelerated the need for evolution of global mobility. Companies that react and adapt quickly will find business as usual, while other may struggle. In any case, there are a few key considerations when a company allows ‘work from anywhere’ including the social security and permanent establishment implications.


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New reality

The ongoing pandemic has initiated an economic crisis, and, for the foreseeable future, the only certainty is uncertainty. We now expect a much longer and far more transformative era of turbulence in ways that were impossible to imagine at the beginning of 2020, and businesses will inevitably face many tough decisions.

Your HR team needs to be primed and ready to respond to any shift in this new reality. Whether that be more competition for talent as remote work opens up new global labor pools, or changes to your existing workforce in the form of collective layoffs or temporary unemployment, there is a great deal of complexity ahead. 

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Remuneration and cost

When organizations need to cut costs, (collective) dismissals are often seen as an appropriate measure. However, such dismissals can lower morale and employee productivity, while placing additional pressure on remaining employees to continue to share the same workload. It may sometimes be necessary, but in many cases there are other options that can first be explored to achieve cost reduction outcomes.

 One possibility is collective reduction of working time - which lowers overall employee remuneration and doesn’t require you to lose personnel unnecessarily. An advantage of this is that your experienced workforce remains intact and you don’t then lose time recruiting and training new staff when market conditions change. Instead, you can focus on directing your workforce to take advantage of new business opportunities as soon as they arise.