Future of the Integration Business: Human Resources

By Michael Timmes
National Systems Contractors Association

The COVID-19 pandemic should have you reexamining your HR policies about remote work, sick time, benefits, and more.

As integration companies battle through a COVID-19-depleted market, there is much uncertainty about what the future of the integration industry holds. One feeling, however, has been consistent throughout NSCA’s countless conversations with integration firm leaders: Even when the integration market enters its reboot and recovery phase, the “new normal,” as it’s often called, will be different. Integration firm leaders must prepare to lead a different type of company under different work circumstances and address their customers’ changing needs.

NSCA’s “Future of the Integration Business” series offers insight from NSCA members and industry professionals to shed light on what the future holds.

Future of Human Resources

Your employees have gone through a lot throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — and so have your HR managers.

Many integration company leaders found themselves suddenly managing predominantly remote teams. In many cases, employees and their spouses have been working at home alongside children trying to focus on remote schooling. HR policies have not only needed to get creative to handle some of these situations but also needed to factor in what employee work-life balance can look like beyond COVID-19.

The pandemic is providing us all with an HR reality check: Something like this can happen, and it can also happen again. As a result, integration firms find themselves reimagining HR policies.

NSCA Business Accelerator Insperity works with integrators to help them manage human resources strategies. With the recalibration happening in the COVID-19 era, NSCA sought input from Michael Timmes, a human resources consultant for Insperity. Following are Timmes’ thoughts and guidance on several post-COVID-19 HR issues.

Office Safety:

  • As companies across the United States prepare to reopen and bring employees back to the office, the return to business normalcy may not be immediate. While many company leaders will be eager to make up for lost time and revenue, it is important to balance the ramifications of jumping back in too quickly.
  • As employees prepare to return to the office, firms should consider investing in health precautions, such as daily screenings and contactless temperature checks, to ensure that safety is a top priority.
  • Stocking the workplace with sanitization tools and masks, as well as implementing continued social distancing guidelines, can help limit the chances of the virus resurfacing.

Remote Worker Policies:

  • For many business owners, the coronavirus outbreak may have proven that, with the right technology and communication tools, employees can function successfully regardless of physical location. This may open the door to work-from-home policies in industries where these capabilities did not exist previously. While drafting these policies, business leaders should consult with employees to get feedback on communication practices, work-life balance, and remote management to ensure they include examples of what did or did not work well.
  • As businesses re-open, some employees may prefer to continue working from home rather than return to a traditional office setting. For staffers who successfully demonstrated their effectiveness while remote, businesses may consider implementing a flexible schedule that allows employees to split time between working remotely and in the office.
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Facilitating Workplace Social Distancing:

  • In the long term, it is likely that adherence to social distancing guidelines will still be a major consideration, as well as a recommendation from the CDC. In the workplace, this could result in fewer employees per office, increased space between desks or cubicles, fewer in-person meetings, and restrictions on the number of people permitted in communal areas at one time. Businesses may also consider rotating which employees are in the office.

Technicians Visiting Customer Jobsites and Traveling:

  • Organizations may consider continuing to limit unnecessary travel to help ensure worker safety. If travel is unavoidable, then HR managers should put additional measures in place to protect workers who travel to and from other companies or sites. Workers should be provided with gloves, face masks, and disinfectants, such as hand sanitizer. They should also be aware of any additional policies in place at the companies being visited.

Factoring Employees’ Childcare Challenges:

  • Flexible scheduling can help workers provide care for children home from school or daycare while they complete ongoing daily tasks. For example, parents could adjust their work start time while working remotely to accommodate children’s at-home learning schedules.

Reimagining Benefits and Time-Off Policies:

  • Many business owners provide paid sick leave as a valuable perk for employees. While it is often part of an overall benefits package, the federal government has positioned paid sick leave as a temporary essential workplace program during the coronavirus pandemic. Before adjusting their current sick leave or paid time-off policies, business owners should read the fine print of new legislation and review their current plans. They may also consider utilizing a human resources provider to help ensure they remain compliant while adhering to the changes.
  • Some businesses may consider expanding their paid sick-leave offerings to employees to further encourage those who feel under the weather to remain home. This, in turn, may prevent the spread of germs in the office.
  • HR managers should analyze and build upon existing Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), including mental health support, active lifestyle advice, and grief counseling, among other benefits. The
    se benefits should be promoted to current employees and prospective candidates to help with retention and recruiting efforts.

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Find more of NSCA’s Business Continuity and Recovery content here. Learn how to become an NSCA member here.