The UK is facing ongoing COVID-19 restrictions throughout winter.  Businesses will have a combination of staff on furlough, working from home and those making a return to the office, as well as those who are isolating or off sick making managing who is working when and where a real challenge.

This looks set to continue however, as research highlights that many employees want to continue to work from home when the pandemic is over, and companies may need to adapt to support them. A forecast by Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 25-30% of the global workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.

Supporting employees' health and mental wellbeing is another major challenge.  The Centre for Mental Health suggests that at least half a million more people in the UK may experience mental ill health resulting from the pandemic in the next two years.

Winter can affect people's mental wellbeing in a normal year but add to the mix the impact of the pandemic, a second lockdown and more restrictions and employees may struggle and need extra support from their employers.

Overcoming these challenges

To meet these challenges, employers will need to manage their workforce carefully and may need to adopt new ways of working.

In the past organisations may have used spreadsheets to record where staff are, when they are off sick or on holiday, but this new working environment requires a more robust way of managing things.

Managing staff in different locations, keeping track of employees working flexibly or at home, those on furlough or those returning to work, needs a system which provides an accurate, real-time overview of where staff are at any one time.

This is where investing in technology, such as cloud-based absence management software, can help. This software provides the transparency a business needs to effectively manage their workforce wherever they are based.  

Employers can use absence management software to monitor sick leave, holiday leave, employees working remotely, those who are on staggered work times, furloughed or on annual leave, as well as other absences. If the system is cloud-based, managers can access it wherever they are based, ensuring they have real-time visibility over their workforce.

Absence management software can also support employee mental wellbeing. By tracking absence, employers will be able to spot any unusual trends such as someone suddenly having a lot of time off, which may be a cause for concern. The system also prompts back to work interviews which can be

carried out remotely or in person. This encourages people to speak to their managers about any issues they are facing and give managers the chance to offer support if needed.

Managing holiday leave in the coming months will be another challenge. Many employees will be desperate to take a holiday once the second lockdown lifts and using absence management software companies can carefully plan and monitor holiday leave to ensure there are no clashes and the business is sufficiently staffed.

As restrictions begin to lift, employers can use software to send out important company updates, as well as guidelines or policies employees need to read and acknowledge. This will be a particularly important part of the safe return to work process, ensuring staff are aware of changes to working policies and practices.

As we look to 2021, it is likely that companies will need to adapt how they work and having the right software and systems in place will be key to managing this transition successfully.   

For more information on absence management software visit the experts at - Activ Absence