Providing an HR service remotely


I was just looking for some views on how we continue to provide our HR service during these difficult times.

Are there any circumstances in your opinions which would require face to face contact? Anything that cannot be done remotely?


  • Nope. With sone flexibility and planning pretty much everything can be done remotely up to I guess someone starting with you.
  • Did you see Boris Johnson at 8:30? We have to do everything remotely now
  • We initially had three people in on a rota but since the announcement on Monday night the HR team will all be working from home for the next three weeks.
  • Just as an aside I would be planning or at least thinking about how you provide services remotely for months not weeks #justincase
  • If you’d asked that question 3 weeks ago I would have said ‘loads of things can’t be done remotely’ – turns out I would have been wrong! I’ve been WFH for the best part of the last 2 weeks, alongside my other HR colleagues and the learning/experience curve of what’s possible has been extraordinary. In case it’s useful I’ve listed below some of the things we’ve discovered are possible remotely (when ‘normally’ we would have insisted/expected an in-person was necessary):
    - Social – normal ‘at desk’ chat, good mornings, etc can be done through messaging software – we use MS Teams and have a running conversation in my team - mainly focused on what we're eating at that particular time (turns out we're very fond of hot cross buns and regular cups of tea (which was news to none of us))
    - All meetings that would otherwise be in person (we use MS Teams; other softwares are available – if you have an IT dept/IT person, ask them what is the most appropriate software for your business, taking into account security considerations and ensuring secure data storage/transfer);
    - All phone calls (again we use MS Teams for this, as most of us don’t have work mobiles and prefer not to give out personal numbers if avoidable)
    - All electronic exchanges (whether email, Teams, or similar)
    - All secure file sharing (we use OneDrive or encrypted email – again, depending on your org you may have different cloud based file sharing software – whichever is used, assess how secure it is GDPR/DPA wise before using)
    - Digitally signing documents (e.g PDFs can be signed digitally using Adobe Reader – ‘how to’ is here: helpx.adobe.com/.../signing-pdfs.html)
    - Casework – matters that would usually involve face to face meetings (e.g investigation meetings, hearings, appeals) are being done using MS Teams (vid/audio) where possible. The usual parties would be ‘in the room’ including notetaker. When setting these up, it is worth allowing more advance prep/advance notice that you may ordinarily do (e.g if you normally give 5 working days notice of a date, consider making this longer) and encouraging written submissions in advance, and sufficient reading time, so that when the meeting takes place everyone involved has had plenty of time to prepare and be familiar with the available material. When setting up such meetings virtually, be aware that all the parties may have different tech available to them (e.g some people may only have phones rather than laptops etc) and be prepared to be flexible about how people ‘attend’ the meeting wherever possible. If it becomes apparent that a virtual meeting is not going to be possible, then consider deferring the process until it is possible (essentially, pausing the process at the stage it has reached, informing all parties what this means – ie it hasn’t gone away, but is ‘holding’ - keep records of what you communicate so that this record is available at the later time to explain why any delay was reasonable in the circumstances);
    - Delivering training/briefing – using webinar software to deliver what you would usually do ‘in the room’.
    Obviously all of the above is reliant on others having access to tech/software and we know everyone’s got different setups, and are at different stages in their ‘tech comfort zone’, so in addition to what’s possible – I’m firmly bearing in mind that patience and bearing with colleagues who may not yet be as digitally ready is essential and if I know how to do something, I’m offering to do walk throughs/written guides for colleagues to help them (I’m the least patient person I know, so this is part of my own learning journey – developing patience and being kinder!)
    So far, the only thing that occurred to me that I would find difficult to do is send or receive information in hard copy (e.g. if I need to send a piece of correspondence to someone’s home address or similar). This is because I don’t have a printer at home, so while I have stamps I have no printer/paper/envelopes. Saying that, I’ve spoken to colleagues in my team and we’ve established who does have printing facility, so that if needs must, they can print and post a letter. At present, I don’t envisage needing to do this, but as I say, it occurred to me that it’s something that I can’t do, hence the ‘who’s got a printer’ question to colleagues, so we’ve got the ability if needed.
    Sorry if this is too long and a bit boring, but hope it helps a little.
  • In reply to Ann Simpson:

    Thank you very much all - it's trying times to be sure, and especially coming from a manufacturing organisation where working remotely is not yet encouraged (we are working on it!!). All our HR team are now working from home, but we have been asked to give some thought to where the challenges may be.. so your response is really helpful Ann, thanks!