Taking Your Team Back to Work After COVID-19

After many weeks of lockdown and widespread disruptions to day-to-day life, the world is starting to discuss and institute new practices to bring communities back to normal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At this time, all efforts are focused on ensuring the grand reopening is a safe one. For businesses there are many complex onboarding processes involved in getting new hires up and running in the wake of COVID-19. That challenge is magnified if the scale of hiring is large and the time to do it is short; this unprecedented combination makes the case for automating as many steps of the process as possible. Implementing these automated, rules-based workflows as a permanent fixture will help ease the recovery from COVID-19, as well as increase efficiency within the organization going forward.

Onset of the Pandemic

When the COVID-19 outbreak first began, many organizations had to rapidly offboard employees, associates and contractors, and transition the remaining workforce to Work From Home (WFH). From an IT perspective, there were a number of other challenges, including:

  • Coordinating the collection and reclamation of IT hardware devices from vendors and associates who had been offboarded
  • Re-harvesting or recovering the cost of unused software licenses or subscriptions
  • Ensuring application access is terminated smoothly across all devices and accounts to prevent security breaches
  • Coordination of the hand-offs across multiple functional areas (Vendor Management, Security and Compliance, HR, IT Project Teams) during the offboarding process
  • Re-distribution of those assets and installing the appropriate collaboration tools to maintain productivity from a remote workforce

It was important to manage these offboarding tasks effectively to manage costs, minimize risk and prepare for a smooth and rapid “ramp up” when it’s time to return to normal operations. Unfortunately, it’s common for organizations to rely on cumbersome manual processes to manage these steps. For example, a large American clothing department store chain was using spreadsheets to manage its workforce; this became far too labor-intensive when faced with the need to suddenly offboard many thousands of associates. Ness helped them develop a rapid offboard solution that synthesized features from the ServiceNow platform, existing HR systems and modern digital workflow capabilities to consolidate spreadsheets, emails and disparate data into one master application governed by rules-based workflows. This solution addresses many needs that companies have when offboarding large numbers of contractors and associates, by streamlining and prioritizing processes and data – while controlling costs and reducing compliance risk.

What’s Next?

A streamlined and well-designed offboarding process naturally lends itself to accelerating the onboarding process when the time comes. The Ness solution can manage an up-to-date, real-time inventory of people, assets and licenses, and a backward compatible collection of offboarding catalog items that can be used to efficiently onboard contractors and associates. It also provides features like standard imaging and licensing based on employee role to accelerate access provisioning and software licensing to ramped up resources.

Traditionally, bringing new people on board requires existing staff to already be in place to manage on-the-job training and familiarization with company processes. Organizations will need to ask themselves if they have the right number and seniority of staff necessary to scale back up. IT teams are likely to be some of the first personnel that return to working on-site. Their work is critical to provide the ongoing support that employees need as they transition slowly from WFH to working in the office – or strike a new balance between the two. Inevitably, people will be returning to the office in cohorts rather than all at once – that means juggling and prioritizing the needs of on-site workers and remote workers.

IT teams will also be handling hardware that needs to be distributed, after being disinfected without damaging the electronics, and they will be closely monitoring network capabilities and security features like remote access. As you build programs to bring your organization back to work, set goals and measure your progress. The objective is not to meet every single goal perfectly, but to figure out how to improve if things do not go as planned. Things will never be exactly the same again, but that might be a positive. There is an opportunity to embed new processes for smoother connectivity, better collaboration and more sharing of knowledge. Greater transparency for employees should break down the siloes that existed before the pandemic changed the way we work.

Beyond the Tech

The recovery effort will require synchronization between people and software to provide support for different configurations of your workforce. This time will be critical to reset the relationship with the employees in the organization. Whereas many have been hurt by the pandemic, many more will be happy to come back to work and renew friendships that have lain dormant in lockdown. Take advantage of this moment to rebuild some of what may have been lost over the past several months.

The Future

The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder that disaster can strike at any moment. Preparing in advance rather than reacting in the moment can make the difference between a catastrophe and a hardship that can be recovered from. That planning and preparation involves implementing adaptable technology, workflows and strategies that will help future-proof the organization against potential threats down the road.

To learn more about how Ness can help you learn from these lessons now to set your organization up for success in the future, click here.

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