The Future of Work and Benefits after COVID-19, Part 1

The Future of Work and Benefits after COVID-19, Part 1

By Rich Wolfe, Chief Executive Officer and Steve Campbell, Chief Human Resources Officer

 
In this first post of this two-part series, we examine several ways in which COVID-19 has changed how and where work gets done, and explore how these effects may shape the future of work in a post-pandemic world.

In just a short time, COVID-19 has had a profound and long-lasting impact on the way people and organizations everywhere approach their work. While there is much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, there are also valuable opportunities for organizations to evaluate the status quo, optimize their operations, and stay adaptive.

A major factor driving these opportunities has been the switch to remote work – as well as the need for secure and mobile-ready technology to support this move. Here, we look at how these changes will affect the way employers approach the concept of work going forward.

 

Increased Demand for Remote Work and Job Flexibility

Remote work capabilities are a defining factor among companies that were best prepared to handle the sudden emergence of COVID-19. Today, the ability to work from home is no longer just an employee perk; it is fast becoming an employee expectation, and has also proven to be an essential element of a strong business continuity plan.

Prior to the pandemic, there had been a 91% increase in the number of employees working remotely since 2009.1 Now, an estimated 66% of employees are working from home 2 – and both employers and employees are beginning to recognize the benefits of working outside of the traditional office space.

Working from home saves employees time and money by eliminating the costs associated with a typical work day, including the daily commute. Companies with a large remote employee population can also save on facility expenses, as well as widen access to top talent outside of a company’s immediate vicinity.

While working from home was certainly gaining popularity before the current pandemic, COVID-19 has pushed employers to embrace remote work at a pace that some HR leaders did not expect for at least another decade. Today, both employees and employers are recognizing that working in the usual office setting may not be necessary or even as productive as once thought.

Some organizations have struggled to overcome concerns about productivity and professionalism while allowing employees to work outside of the office. These concerns are understandable, but employees can actually be more productive when working from home under the right conditions.3

For many people, the flexibility afforded by working from home will be difficult to relinquish after this pandemic has passed. Moving forward, business leaders can expect job flexibility and remote work capabilities to remain a significant draw for talent – especially now that employees have experienced the benefits of remote work for themselves.

RELATED: How to reach your mobile workforce with engaging benefits messaging without adding more to your plate

 

Secure and Mobile Technology for Business Continuity

The organizations that have seen the most success during the COVID-19 pandemic were those that maintained a modern mobility strategy as a key focus of their technology infrastructure. Social distancing measures and lockdowns have made it difficult (and in some cases, unsafe) for employees to travel and work in the office as usual. Now it is crucial that employees have access to the secure technology solutions necessary to ensure productivity, collaboration, and data security across their entire team – regardless of location.

Unfortunately, not all businesses were prepared for such a sudden shift in their daily operations. For instance, a key aspect of a strong mobility strategy is 100% laptop deployment – paired with access to a secure virtual private network (VPN).

One important limitation on mobility is that traditional offices have typically relied on static desktop computers for employee use. While laptop computers often require a larger investment than desktop machines, they also ensure that employees have the hardware and software necessary to work while away from the office. After the COVID-19 pandemic, we can expect companies to focus more heavily on optimizing their technology infrastructure to support more robust mobility strategies and business continuity plans, including the switch to mobile hardware.

While organizations adjust to sudden changes in operations, this is also an important time to evaluate the preparedness of your key vendors. It is imperative that your essential business providers – such as your benefits enrollment and administration partner  – were properly prepared prior to the emergence COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure you and your employees continued to experience uninterrupted, high-quality benefits service.

READ MORE: Discover the three essential aspects of a benefits administration platform and find the best partner for your business

As working from home becomes increasingly mainstream, HR teams must focus on building a strong communications strategy, developing a remote-friendly culture, and assembling the right vendors to support employees’ needs across a widely dispersed workforce. How are your partners prepared to help you make the necessary shifts to meet these changes head on?

For more insights into how employee benefits will evolve due to COVID-19, download the 2020 Benefit Trends Report from Empyrean here – and be sure to check back for part two of this post coming soon.

 

References

  1. Reynolds, Brie Weiler. “159% Increase in Remote Work Since 2005: FlexJobs & Global Workplace Analytics Report.” FlexJobs Corporation. Boulder, CO. July 2019.
  2. “Working from Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic: The State of Remote Work.” Clutch Co, LLC. Washington, D.C. April 2019.
  3. Choudhury, P., Larson, B., and Foroughi, C. “Is it Time to Let Employees Work from Anywhere?” Harvard Business Review. Boston, MA. August 2019.
Empyrean Stands in Solidarity with the Black Community and our Colleagues of Color

Empyrean Stands in Solidarity with the Black Community and our Colleagues of Color

By Rich Wolfe, Chief Executive Officer

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact millions of Americans, so too do systemic injustices against African Americans and people of color. As a company that is a proud of our diverse and inclusive workforce, Empyrean supports the nationwide call to bring an end to racial inequality and violence.

In just a short time, we have witnessed incomprehensible brutality, as well as seen communities come together in the spirit of change. This is an intensely challenging time in our history, and it is up to each of us to maintain our composure, reflect on our values and privileges, and take responsibility for our actions as we work to shape and set an example for the future.

This is a moment rife with anxiety and uncertainty, as cities and businesses across the country grapple with the reality of simultaneous public health and civil rights crises. The tragic and wrongful deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Amaud Arbery, and so many others has understandably sparked outrage and grief that has led to a global call for action. Nationwide demonstrations have encouraged renewed dialogue about how people of color are treated in this country, and what we as a society – and as community and business leaders – can do better.

While the damage to livelihoods and neighborhoods during moments of violence have been saddening, we are also deeply inspired and moved by the peaceful demonstrations and enlightening conversations that have taken place in cities around the world.

There is much work to be done in order to unite, heal, and move forward. Answers and change will not come overnight. In the meantime, we hope you and your families remain safe and healthy, as we work together to bring an end to injustice and discrimination everywhere.

Empyrean stands with those that oppose racism, intolerance, and violence in our communities. We look forward to the day when equality is a reality, and we are committed to doing our part to ensure that day comes.

COVID-19 Update: The Latest on How Empyrean is Keeping Our Clients Connected and Our Employees Safe

COVID-19 Update: The Latest on How Empyrean is Keeping Our Clients Connected and Our Employees Safe

By Rich Wolfe, Chief Executive Officer

As many states begin relaxing stay-at-home orders and businesses prepare to reopen, Empyrean remains focused on helping our clients and participants navigate the latest impacts to their benefits while keeping our employees protected.

HR teams all across the country are grappling with the sudden changes and uncertainty brought on by COVID-19. At Empyrean, we recognize the difficult challenges and decisions you are facing regarding your workforce and business – and as always, we’re here to help.

Right now, the dependability of your benefits administration partner is the last thing you should have to worry about. The accuracy of your benefits data and the quality of your service cannot be compromised, especially now. That’s why our Empyrean team is working to ensure your solution and services continue performing as expected – without interruption – every single day.

From managing workforce reductions, special open enrollment periods, and the most recent compliance updates, to making sure your employees have access to the most up-to-date benefits information – Empyrean is here to support you every step of the way.

And like you, we know that our people are what truly drive our success. That’s why the wellbeing of our employees and their families has remained our top priority as we plan for the months ahead. With our employees’ safety in mind, Empyrean will continue our company-wide remote work policy through at least June 30, 2020.

Our leadership and crisis management teams are carefully monitoring the latest developments around COVID-19, and may extend this policy as the situation evolves. Each of our locations will also conduct a phased re-entry once it is deemed safe for employees to return to the office.

While the majority of our workforce remains at home, Empyrean’s facilities continue to be monitored and kept secure 24/7/365. As part of our robust business continuity planning, all Empyrean teams are 100% virtually enabled and laptop deployed. This preparedness allowed Empyrean employees to immediately transition to working remotely, while other vendors struggled to make the switch.

Today, all Empyrean services remain up and running with full capabilities, and we are pleased to announce that there have been no service interruptions for our clients due to COVID-19. We continue to welcome new clients onto the Empyrean Platform, and to help our current clients adapt to the many changes they are facing during this crisis.

Empyrean is working closely with our clients and partners to assist with creative solutions to support employers’ rapidly evolving needs. We are also transitioning new customers onto the Empyrean Platform via our fully virtual implementation and testing processes. Meanwhile, our in-house compliance experts are keeping a close eye on the latest updates to benefits compliance regulations and best practices as we navigate this new environment.

During these difficult times, it has been truly inspiring to witness the resilience and dedication of those in our community. I continue to hear from our customers, who are sharing stories of how they are overcoming their toughest obstacles with the help of our team. We are immensely proud of everything we have accomplished together, even while apart. I look forward to celebrating these successes in person when we are able to safely gather once more.

I want to again express my appreciation for all who are working to make this new normal a little easier for everyone – including health care workers, essential employees, and employees and their families at home nationwide. While the current situation has challenged us, the strength and support of those around us continue to inspire hope for the future.

And as always, Empyrean is here to help guide you through the every change surrounding COVID-19 and your employee benefits. Please reach to your client service team directly or contact us at info@goempyrean.com if we can be of assistance at any time.

On behalf of all of us at Empyrean, I hope you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy. Thank you for the invaluable work you are doing every day to keep your employees protected and your company moving in the right direction.

COVID-19 Update: Empyrean is Committed to Supporting the HR Community

COVID-19 Update: Empyrean is Committed to Supporting the HR Community

By Rich Wolfe, Chief Executive Officer

In just a few short weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected countless lives and businesses. Now more than ever, you need a partner that you can rely on, and your employees need access to benefits support they can trust. Learn what the Empyrean Team is doing to keep your participants connected to their benefits during this crucial time.

Everyday life has undergone a major shift in the past few weeks, and there’s no doubt that this is an anxious time for many. People are concerned about their health and mental wellbeing, their families, their finances, and more. Meanwhile, many employees (quite possibly yourself included) are learning how to balance the demands of working remotely while caring for children and loved ones at home.

There’s a lot of uncertainty right now – but as an Empyrean client, you can be certain that your benefits administration is taken care of, no matter what.

From transitioning to a remote workforce to restructuring your organization, Human Resources and benefits professionals are facing some of the toughest challenges of their careers. There is no time to deal with solution failings, service interruptions, or data errors. We understand, and we’re here to help.

You count on Empyrean to be there for you and your employees, and our team takes that responsibility seriously. That’s why we’ve taken steps to ensure you never experience a drop in service due to a major disaster, emergency, or other unforeseen event – including the evolving situation surrounding COVID-19.

At Empyrean, business continuity is more than an action plan – it’s our promise to you. We’ve continuously invested in our infrastructure to quickly adapt to sudden changes or emergency situations whenever necessary, including leveraging remote work and service capabilities.

Empyrean recently implemented a remote work policy, which protects the health of our employees and their families while ensuring that your solution capabilities and service quality remain unchanged. Empyrean Team members are now utilizing secure technology to work from home where possible, and they retain access to all of the tools and resources they would have while in the office.

All Empyrean implementation and ongoing teams are trained and prepared to provide 100% of our services to all of our clients while working remotely. Your administrative services, participant services, and account team will all remain the same during this time.

To protect those employees who are essential to our on-site operations, we are also utilizing medical-grade sanitizers and enhanced cleaning practices at each of our three offices. Empyrean’s facilities continue to be maintained, monitored, and kept secure 24/7.

While the impacts of COVID-19 are unprecedented, you can trust that Empyrean is uniquely prepared to meet your needs as this situation unfolds. After Hurricane Harvey brought historic flooding to the Greater Houston area in 2017, our Empyrean Team proudly continued to support daily service, numerous implementations, and Annual Enrollment for our clients without interruption. Today, Empyrean continues to deliver on our commitment to bring certainty to you and your participants during this uncertain time.

Being able to confidently rely on your people and partnerships is so important, especially now. On behalf of all of us at Empyrean, we are thankful to be a trusted part of the HR community.

As people continue to practice social distancing, it’s crucial that you have the time to care for your people across those long distances. Empyrean is working to quiet the noise of benefits administration, so you can focus on what matters most. That is what our mission at Empyrean is all about, today and every day.

While this global pandemic may have brought about unexpected challenges for your business and employees, you can feel secure that Empyrean has your back every step of the way.

We’re here to help you get through this, together, and we’ll emerge on the other side of this crisis stronger than ever.

If our team can be of assistance to you in any way during this time, please let us know by reaching out to your Empyrean Client Service Manager, or feel free to contact our team at info@goempyrean.com.