The remote workforce is here to stay. At the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, organizations worldwide either mandated or encouraged working from home. And now, the total global percentage of remote employees is expected to double in 2021, and 76% of employees worldwide say they want to continue to work from home.
This trend isn’t likely to recede even in a post-COVID-19 world. Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, estimates that by 2025, about 70% of the workforce will work remotely at least one business week each month.
For organizations looking to operate with agility, these seismic shifts prompt some critical questions when it comes to workforce planning. What do these changes mean for traditional office space? What effect will they have on workforce efficiency and productivity? What impact will a work-anywhere world have on talent acquisition, development, and retention?
Amid all this uncertainty, one thing is for certain: Decades-old workforce planning processes will be of little help. As such, decision-makers must start thinking about how they can prepare for what’s next.
Don't Let Workforce Planning Be Your Organization's Weakest Link
Corporate executives have historically viewed the practice of hiring in terms of headcount and cost per hire. This limited perspective is pervasive in part because it has been perpetuated by traditional planning processes, which are mired in manual, laborious tasks, stale and often incomplete data, and fragmented communication and decision-making across departments. While traditional planning processes are often familiar and relied upon to establish a plan for the year or quarter, the pandemic has shattered any notion that this static environment is still sufficient for workforce planning in a modern world.
This is true especially now that the role of human resources (HR) is experiencing a transformation. Even before the pandemic became a daily challenge for HR executives, Deloitte coined the term "exponential HR" to describe a broader and more comprehensive scope of influence for HR that extends to a company’s complete ecosystem. This term also describes a shift in HR’s perspective, widening its focus on employees and the organization to workforce planning and even the nature of work itself. In this more dynamic and strategic scenario, HR ingests analytics and market trends, and assesses its skill set and technology needs, as the company scales and plans for the future.
Yet many organizations find their workforce planning environment to be disconnected. In these enterprises, finance takes a headcount-focused view (along with its attendant cost considerations) while HR focuses more on building the ideal workforce (which incorporates skills and capacity planning, succession plans, talent sourcing plans, and more). Disconnected workforce planning is characterized by siloed decision-making, misaligned goals and priorities, and ultimately bad hires that don’t suit the needs of the company’s growth and future plans. Relying on traditional planning limits HR’s ability to adapt to the dynamic realities of the business. And that’s a big problem.