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Focus on Telecommuting Trends

Introduction and Background

One year down the line, the covid-19 pandemic has had unprecedented impacts in people’s normal way of life, impacting almost all disciplines and sectors of the economic, political and social life across the globe. While industries such as the travel and Hospitality have been the hardest hit (McKinsey and Company, 2020; Suneson, 2020), other sectors of the economy such as internal operations of organizations and especially the Human Resource Department have also been significantly influenced necessitating critical changes to maintain continued productivity. Gigauri (2020) advances that the rapid and dramatic shifts in the corporate and business environment as a result of the corona virus has yielded significant implications especially in the HRM departments of different countries necessitating the adaptation and implementation of new strategies such as telecommuting and an enhanced concern for employee safety and welfare. The pandemic has also led to the development of new HRM trends and strategies aimed at enhancing swift comeback on the affected industries and protecting jobs and markets from entirely decapitating. This study looks to deeply evaluate the different impacts that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on HRM department of major companies across the world with specific bias to the development and increased adoption of Telecommuting practices.

Background of the Study

According to Al Mala (2020), the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the significance and importance of the HRM department to companies and organizations especially in consideration of the new challenges and difficulties brought about by the coronavirus. Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, the HRM department like most other sectors of an organization and the economy were only focused on enhancing the conservation of the environment and fostering green practices. However, much of the impacts of the pandemic such as the need for social distancing and consistent sanitizing of work surfaces and hands for employees, has brought to the core a new principle focuses for the department: employee safety and welfare. Caligiuri et al. (2020) advances that employers are now faced with significant challenges such as crowded workplaces which provide a significant hazard for the employees as well as a logistics problem which limit the efficiency with which workers can access their workplaces and homes on time for continued productivity.

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Decision makers in different organizations and enterprises have been forced to undertake various measures in an attempt to alleviate the impacts of the pandemic. In most instances the actions and measures taken are in some way or another related to managing distance and rethinking boundaries within the organization's workforce both at a macro level of the organization and at the firm level (Caligiuri et al., 2020). While a significant number of organizations especially industrial organizations which are inherently dependent on a specialized workplace still maintain normal HR strategies of having workers report to work, the effects of the pandemic in line with the employer's duty of care to the employees would significantly require more from the companies in terms of considering employee welfare.

Fox et al. (2020) acknowledges the development of key discussion with regards to the impact of covid-19 to HRM practices, they further point out that a majority of the discussion is inherently generalized on account of observations and not actual scientific research into how exactly the HRM department is impacted. This thereby limits the different actions and measures that can be taken by HRM department in enhancing employee safety and adequate welfare. According to Mwita (2021) significant changes in the lifestyle of customers as and employees in an attempt to cope with the new normal life developed due to the various health restrictions cropping from the pandemics outbreak have thrown organizations into crisis leading to the development and implementation of new management strategies. Gigauri (2020) advances that some of the strategic changes include introduction and enhanced adoption of remote working (Telecommuting), development of flexible working schedule, effective division of labor to limit overcrowding as well as enhanced concern with regards to employee well-being.

However according to Fox et al. (2020), while these strategies have been adequately adopted by multiple organizations across the globe, there is very limited understanding of the actual resultant impact of these strategic changes to workplace practices and their outcome in terms of profitability related to the organization goals and objectives. This study is designed to develop a deeper understanding of how the strategic changes including a widespread adoption of telecommuting, flexible scheduling and enhanced consideration of employee welfare impact the ultimate outcome of work practices and organization objectives.

Research Problem

The covid-19 pandemic has impacted unprecedented changes in the Human Resource Department of different organizations across the globe leading to the development of alternative management strategies to ensure continued working and productivity of the company. According to Caligiuri at al. (2020), these strategies are mainly aimed at managing the distance between different workers to foster continued working despite the pandemic and establishing new boundaries to facilitate a halt in the spreading of the virus and subsequently eradication of the pandemic. Among the various strategies adopted include remote working (telecommuting) which allows employees to work at their own chosen location to limit their contact with others who may be infected. Another commonly adopted strategy includes division of labor to control and regulate the number of employees coming in to work at a particular time and flexible working schedules to maintain the work flow among the different shifts. Companies have also taken up a significantly increased concern for their employee welfare and safety within and without the workplace in view of the pandemic through provision of safe work places that adhere to the covid-19 preventive regulations and rules. However, while these strategies represent a significant shift from the normal HR practices prior to the pandemic’s outbreak and indeed outline some of the impacts the pandemic has had on the HRM department, the resultant impact of these changes to the ultimate outcome of HR practices and intended organization goal and objectives is yet to be known. This provides a significant gap in the knowledge regarding the impact of the newly adopted HR strategies as a result of the Corona virus pandemic as well as whether or not they are effective in delivering effective outcomes in line with the organizations goals and objectives.

Aims and Objectives

The aim of the study is to investigate the impacts of the corona virus pandemic on organization HRM strategies and activities as well as the resulting outcomes on the organization’s set goals and objectives as a result of the changes in HR practices. To effectively achieve this, aim the study is divided into three key objectives to guide the research

To uncover the impact of the corona virus pandemic on organization Human resource Management and Practice

To outline and investigate the different changes in Human Resource Management such as telecommuting, Work Scheduling and enhanced employee welfare as a result of the corona virus pandemic

To find out the impact that the HRM strategy changes has on the ultimate outcome of HR practices and organization goals and objectives

Research Questions

How has the corona virus pandemic impacted organization Human Resource Management department and its practices?

What are some of the Human Resource strategy changes experienced within the HRM department as a result of the Corona virus pandemic outbreak?

What impact has the HRM strategy changes had on the ultimate outcome of Human resource practices and organization goals and objectives?

Study Rationale

The covid-19 pandemic may extend to up to 2022 according to a study report highlighted by Woodward (2020) however its effects are guaranteed to continue being felt to up to 2025. Despite companies developing new strategies to handle the abrupt changes in the business environment, these impacts are likely to stay and radically as well as eternally change the business environment. A wide range of scholars and researchers including (Al Mala, 2020; Caligiuri et al., 2020; Gigauri, 2020; and Meister, 2020) point out that these challenges have already been faced by different organization leading to the development of new HR strategies in Telecommuting, Flexible work scheduling and increased concern regarding consumer and employee safety. However, no study delves deeper to evaluate how these developed changes in HR strategies impact Human resource practices within an organization, or how they impact the ultimate outcome of the organizations practices in light of the set goals and objectives. Through looking into how the changes in strategy impact HR practices as well as the long-term impact on the outcome of business activities in line with organization goals and practices, different companies can evaluate whether their adopted strategies will be viable for as long as the impact of Covid-19 remains present. The study can further be used as a benchmark for Human Resource Managers to develop more solid ling lasting solutions that can be aligned with organization goals and therefore enhanced continued productivity of the organizations despite the pandemic's persistent presence. In addition, this study will serve to fill a gap in literature regarding the impact of the HR changes that are widely adopted at present on the ultimate organization’s productivity, success and profitability.

Literature Review

The corona virus pandemic based on its fast and easy rate of spread especially amongst social groups and large groups of people significantly led to the limiting of public and social gatherings. Given the need for social gatherings and team works in virtually all organizations and businesses across the world, the set standards and limitations by the health sector to stop its spread including effective social distancing, impacted lifestyle changes that have had significant impact in the Human Resource Department of multiple organizations. According to Mwita (2021) these lifestyle changes among customers and employees have caused a significant impact and crisis in organizations leading to the development of new HR strategies to support continued operations of businesses. Meister (2020) advances that while most of the strategies were already available in the market and being used by a select few organizations, the covid 19 pandemic has provided a significant accelerator to their global adoption among different organizations, both big and small.

Some of the major strategy changes adopted by HRM as a result of the pandemic include: Telecommuting, increased flexibility in work scheduling as well as an enhanced concern for employee safety and welfare management. According to Doyle (2020), Telecommuting is an employment arrangement in which the employee works outside of the employer's office, often the term is adopted to refer to working from home or at a location close to home, such as a coffee shop, library, or co-working space. Telecommuting despite being a common practice among some companies and organizations prior to the onset of the pandemic, has been widely adopted by a wide range of organizations including government organizations all across the world to aid in limiting social interactions and movement and help maintain social distancing which contributed towards the eradication of the pandemic.

Organizations, especially those that cannot adopt telecommuting due to the technicality of the Work practices and activities that require workers to work at a specific work place, for instance industries and retail sales have adopted flexible work scheduling and division of labor to help minimize social proximity and interaction among workers (Udaya, 2020). Work schedules are developed with enhanced flexibility to suit the limited working times and conditions and fewer employees report to work at a time to further enhance social distancing. Employers and organization have also taken up more stringent and effective measures to ensure employee safety at the workplace and to prevent the continued spread of the virus. Most organization have installed hand washing stations and public sanitizer dispensers to enhance the protection of the safety of its workers within the work place and beyond.

Meister (2020) further highlights some expected long-term changes and impacts to the HRM department including a shift to include a radical transformation of the employee recruitment and training strategies to a more skill based and technical strategy. The pandemic will also significantly change the scope of employee safety care and management among the HRM departments of multiple organizations. These long-term changes and impacts are likely to birth significant changes in the ultimate outcome of HR practices as well as the organization objectives and goals.

Research Methodology and Methods

Introduction

The research methodology is a critical section of a study according to Neuman (2013) because it outlines the process to be followed by the researcher within the field for an efficient study outcome. It outlines the different techniques and the tools required and that will be used in the process of conducting the study. This chapter provides a reference to the different activities a researcher will engage in including how, with the use of what and where these activities will be conducted. The chapter will be adopted by the researcher to provide a guide and a control mechanism through the study. Among other things, it includes the research type, design and approach, the population of study and sampling technique as well as the data collection and analysis technique to be adopted.

Research Technique

The study takes up a qualitative research study design this is because it seeks to evaluate the impact of the changing Human Resource environment on account of the corona virus pandemic to the HR practices and ultimate organization outcomes. The research will take into use the philosophy and approach of interpretivism and induction. The interpretivist research approach and philosophy according to Corley and Gioia (2011) are often taken up in research practices that use first hand collected data in the analysis of a research problem. This provides an adequate perspective for which the collected information can be applied in answering a real-world problem.

Research Methods

Considering the quantitative nature of the research seeking to evaluate the impact of the changing human resource environment on account of the corona virus pandemic to the HR practices and ultimate organization outcomes, the research study employs the use of semi structured questionnaires and casual interviews. While a great chunk of information for this study will be derived from secondary sources, first hand data will be collected from employees and HR managers in different organizations within different industries regarding the impact that covid-19 has had on the organizations HR department and the ultimate organization goals and objectives. Herein, the researcher would depend on interviewing employees and HR managers in relation to the effectiveness of the newly adopted HR strategies within their organizations as well as how these strategies are impacting the organizations continued growth and sustainability. The use of online questionnaires and casual interviews with the respondents is effective to also enhance adherence to the covid-19 protocols and regulations and further provides the best method for data collection. This is mainly due to reason that the researcher can obtain a significant amount of data and information regarding the subject matter from a one-on-one conversation with the respondent.

Target Population

The study aims to evaluate the impact of the changing human resource environment on account of the corona virus pandemic to the HR practices and ultimate organization outcomes. As such the population will include employees and human resource managers from different organizations in different industries. The industries and respective organizations will be chosen at random based on their management acceptance and willingness to be part of the research study.

Sampling

To collect data from the employees in various business organizations across the city, the research will employ random sampling. According to Blaikie (2010) a researcher’s awareness regarding the magnitude and extent of their population of study, and therefore the whole pool from which a sample can be picked baselines the decision regarding the sampling technique to be used. Through this technique, the researcher will contact only the employees who are comfortable and willing to participate in the study and as such avoid any inconveniences in organizations which may impact the results. This further implies that the sample size taken up is open to any other restriction such as gender and only restricted by the availability of an individual on random approach to contribute to the research.

Data Analysis and presentation

The qualitative data collected will be analyzed using the process of thematic analysis. Thematic analysis refers to a qualitative data analysis method of scientific research that focuses in the identification of different common themes, patterns or connection within the raw data collected to provide adequate analysis and information to answer the study question (Clarke et al., 2015).Accurate and replicable inferences are made from the analysis of the various patterns and themes regarding the impact of covid-19 pandemic to the human resource department of different organizations as well as the impact of the strategy changes to HR practices and the long-term realization of the organization's goals and objectives.

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Ethical Considerations

Given that the research looks to obtain information from human beings who have to provide consent to being respondents within a study, significant ethical issues and required practices arise. According to the Blaikie (2010) the ethical issues present include the practice of using human beings as test subjects and subjecting them to questioning and interrogation. In managing this, relevant permissions will be obtained from the management of these selected organizations to enable the participants be at easy when disclosing information. The individuals to participate in the study will also be selected based on their willingness to participate and notified in advance regarding all aspects of the study that they are required to participate in. No limitations are placed on the demographics of who can and cannot participate as such there will be no prejudices or discrimination when it comes to participant’s selection. In addition, the identities of the participants will be effectively kept private for the sake of maintaining the anonymity of individuals seeking to participate. Their opinions will therefore remain only with the researcher

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References

Al Mala, W., 2020. How COVID-19 Changes the HRM Practices (Adapting One HR Strategy May Not Fit to All). SSRN Electronic Journal,

Arslan, A., Golgeci, I. and Larimo, J., 2021. Expatriates, rise of telecommuting, and implications, for international business: M. Marinov ve S. Marinova, içinde COVID-19 and International Business: Change of Era, N. York: Routledge.

Blaikie, N., 2010. Designing Social Research (2ndedn). Cambridge: Polity

British Psychological Society (2013) Ethics Guidelines for Intermediated Research. INF206/1.2013 Leicester: British Psychological Society. Available at http://www.bps.org.uk/publications/policy-and-guidelines/researchguidelines-policy-documents/research-guidelines-poli [Accessed 9 Aug. 2018].

Caligiuri, P., De Cieri, H., Minbaeva, D., Verbeke, A. and Zimmermann, A., 2020. International HRM insights for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic: Implications for future research and practice. Journal of International Business Studies, 51(5), pp.697-713.

Clarke, V., Braun, V. and Hayfield, N., 2015. Thematic analysis. Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods, pp. 222-248.

Coe, R., Waring, M., Hedges, L.V. and Ashley, L.D. eds., 2021. Research methods and methodologies in education. Sage.

Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K., 2017. Research methods in education. Routledge.

Corley, K.G. and Gioia, D.A., 2011. ‘Building theory abouttheory building: What constitutes a theoretical contribution?', Academy of Management Review, 36(1), pp. 12–32.

Doyle, A., 2020. What Is Telecommuting? [online] The Balance Careers. Available at: .

Fellows, R.F. and Liu, A.M., 2015. Research methods for construction. John Wiley & Sons.

Fox, E., Coffey, J., Dayaram, K., Fitzgerald, S., Gupta, C., McKenna, S. and Tian, A., 2020. The impact of Covid-19 on human resource management: avoiding generalizations. [online] LSE Business Review. Available at: .

Gigauri, I., 2020. Challenges HR Managers Facing due to COVID-19 and Overcoming Strategies: Perspectives from Georgia. Archives of Business Research, 8(11), pp.1-18.

Khan, R. and Javed Hasan, S.L., 2020. Telecommuting: The Problems & Challenges During Covid-19 (2020). International Journal of Engineering Research & Technology (IJERT), 9(7), pp.1027-1033.

McKinsey and Company, 2021. Seven keys to herd immunity. [online] McKinsey and Company. Available at: [Accessed 2 April 2021].

Meister, J., 2020. The Impact of The Coronavirus on HR And the New Normal of Work. [online] Forbes. Available at: .

Mwita, K., 2021. Effects of corona virus pandemic (covid-19) on selected human resource management practices in Tanzania. East African Journal of Social and Applied Sciences, [online] 2(2), pp.252-259. Available at: [Accessed 2 April 2021].

Neuman, W.L., 2013. Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Pearson education.

Suneson, G., 2020. Industries hit hardest by coronavirus in the US include retail, transportation, and travel. [online] Usatoday.com. Available at: .

Udaya, R., 2020. The impact of COVID-19 on human resource management and the way forward | Daily FT. [online] Ft.lk. Available at: .

Woodward, A., 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic could last for 2 years, according to US experts. [online] World Economic Forum. Available at: .


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