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Should HR professionals go remote-only?

Interest in remote HR jobs has shot up over the past two years. But can the people function work as effectively outside the office?

Google searches for remote working HR jobs have more than doubled in the past 12 months in the UK.

Also, according to statistics from job advert search engine Adzuna, HR jobs are now advertised as remote at more than double the rate of other jobs (17% compared to 8% of all jobs.)

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Gemma Dale, co-founder of The Work Consultancy and lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University Business School, told HR magazine that HR professionals are no different to other knowledge workers and they too want to work more remotely than they did before the pandemic.

She said: “People are increasingly feeling like they can do the majority of their work from home and are pushing for more remote time where they can get it.”

Yet she argued this does not mean HR should go completely remote.

She added: “I generally think that hybrid gives us, with effective implementation, the best of both worlds.

“[It provides] the in-person experience for relationship building and connection, plus remote time for detailed and focused work.”

Liz Sebag-Montefiore, director and co-founder of HR consultancy 10Eighty, said hybrid work will become the norm for HR.

She told HR magazine: “HR have to find a balance between establishing a good work environment and human connection, and a balance between flexibility and practicality.”

She added much of HR’s work, like admin and policy work, can be done remotely, though other tasks, for example final interviews, should stay in-person only.

Dale added: “HR is so diverse then there will be no one size fits all.

“Like any other professional, HR will need to determine what works for their particular role, context and personal working style.”

These decisions, she said, may be driven more by the context of the work than by its content.

An HR partner that is working with a very ‘in-person’ client group may need to come in more often than an HR administrator undertaking largely independent processing work.

Sebag-Montefiore added: “Like other managers, HR has to adapt to the new hybrid environment specifically in ensuring remote employees feel supported, able to speak up and confident in leadership and culture, which is likely to look different from a distance. 

“There will be adjustments to make, but there are also advantages – when employees work remotely there may be fewer constraints on location and scheduling that afford you a bigger talent pool.”