The Role of HR Tech in Managing Process & People in a Remote/Hybrid Landscape
- How HR tech is evolving to meet remote/hybrid work use cases
- What these trends mean for M&A in HR tech
Employees want the autonomy of working from anywhere. In a recent ADP survey, 64% of workers polled would consider looking for another job if required to return to the office full-time.
On the other side of the table, companies want the ability to manage and develop talent without the hassle of doing so remotely. While 73% of managers agreed productivity and engagement either improved or stayed the same compared with pre-remote work, the majority of these managers (69%) agreed or were neutral about experiencing burnout with remote management.
Given that employees will likely win this stand-off in the current talent market, the challenge for managers is re-imagining corporate culture for a permanently remote/hybrid format where personnel may never meet in real life. Long-range remote work planning was a part of almost no company’s equation a few years ago: today, it’s imperative for all companies.
In this context, growth relies on process-focused HR tech to manage the work and people-focused HR tech to manage the personnel. Today’s tech needs to not only help oversee workload, but they also need to advance employee progression, culture, and inclusion.
What does this mean for HR tech founders? Emerging HR tech should respond to the new paradigm of distributed teams, and provide the tools necessary to make sure not just that work gets done, but that the people getting the work done are being taken care of. As they do so, they will be well positioned from an M&A perspective, as large-scale software providers will be looking to acquire point solutions to fill gaps in their product portfolio.
HR tech stacks are evolving
From a process perspective, the hodgepodge of systems hobbled together in a pinch were in most cases good enough to get by under remote conditions. That tech stack has been refined over time, but as work continues to evolve to a hybrid approach, HR tech providers will need to evolve as well.
From a people perspective, companies have fallen short in using tech to replace activities that are harder to do remotely, specifically:
- Developing staff
- Fostering inclusion
- Building relationships & culture
Leadership’s view of the HR tech stack
The technology gaps aren’t lost on leadership—they recognize that it’s time to reassess and upgrade the basic tools they’re using to provide more sophisticated systems to grow their work and workers.
Effective leadership are now asking what systems and technology work and which are not worth the effort. They’re working to find products and services that make it easier to connect with remote workers, to oversee productivity, and develop staff.
For example, the shift to remote work left culture by the roadside. For managers, team cohesion and development has given way to endless scheduling and rescheduling duties.The ability to work through team challenges or boost engagement has taken a back seat to remote responsibilities that simply keep productivity at scale.
Both the tech focused on process and the tech focused on people can address these challenges:
- Process-focused tech should simplify, minimize, and eliminate low-value tasks so leaders can get back to high-value talent management.
- People-focused tech should enable leaders to build connectivity for distributed teams
Managing a remote workforce via technology
Team leaders have to a large degree already worked out the day-to-day technologies that help manage remote workers, but some of the basics are worth taking another look at for technological advancement opportunities.
Below are some basic gaps that HR tech can fill for managers/HR personnel:
- Provide visibility for productivity and output, making sure employees are trained and have the tools and tech they need to meet goals.
- Create a platform for continuous feedback and communication so leaders can provide support as needed.
- Prioritize and reorganize efforts based on importance. Tools can help balance need against value when rescheduling tasks and projects based on priority.
- Enable each team member to access and upload data as the work moves forward. Emails, texts, and phone calls often create backlogs and missed opportunities.
- Break down complex projects into manageable segments. Small milestones are easier to track and help maintain productivity.
- Define task and project ownership for accountability. This feature helps track what’s being done and by whom
Advanced use cases for HR Tech in a remote/hybrid landscape
In addition to the daily responsibilities, growth and development of a workforce are also important. Leaders should be looking to build engagement with every member of the group as well as promoting an inclusive culture.
Below are some ways technology can do so:
- Allocate time for managers to check in with each member of the team
- Onboard new employees and ensure they’re receiving appropriate support
- Broadcast messages that build cohesion and mimic in-person social interaction
- Provide easy scheduling or "office hours" capabilities
- Build connectivity with meet and greet events between distributed team members
What do these trends mean for M&A in HR tech?
Notably, for the high quality HR software companies that address the above challenges, they will:
- Be well positioned for success in their target market
- Find themselves squarely positioned within the M&A roadmap of many of the existing large platforms as they look to fill the gap between workers and their organization.
As companies refine tech stacks built on-the-fly in response to the new work paradigm, the software providers built into that stack will look to M&A to fill the gaps within product portfolios. Adding targeted capabilities via M&A will enable them to maintain existing customer satisfaction as well as promote new sales momentum.
The emphasis will be to ensure their HR tech platform provides the tools necessary for companies to get and stay efficient while also growing talent and building a strong culture of productivity and inclusion.
Managing remote teams is a new paradigm for most leaders, many of whom have navigated its successes and pitfalls with little support or training. But remote work is the present and future. To optimize productivity, boost engagement and promote an inclusive culture, managers will need future-centric tools and support. For the large-scale providers who are currently part of the HR tech stack, they will rely on M&A to fill the gap in their existing product portfolios.