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Data’s role in workforce reentry amid COVID-19

The “new normal” will look different—data can help

July 6, 2020 | By: Jennifer Kling and Ram Palaniappan

Sky view of intertwining highways with digital connections

As organizations prepare to shift employees back to a sense of “normal” and reopen physical workplaces amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there are numerous aspects to consider. Employee health, protection and regulation are of paramount concern, as well as privacy and communication. Along with creating these frameworks, we strongly recommend that companies consider the critical role data can play in informing their reentry plan—no matter what industry.

Data platforms are critical to compliance with state regulations

When mobilizing a workforce for reentry, it’s important to take a data-forward approach to fulfill statutory compliance as per state and local governance. Whether it’s a technology organization, consulting group, retailer, restaurant or gas station—each entity needs to adhere to certain requirements specific to its state and submit documents and proofs to meet those requirements. Having an application and data platform to collect, process and manage required compliance details like cleaning and sanitizing of employee workspaces is just one way to help organizations reopen faster, safely. In terms of compliance, data platforms will also provide a systematic way to document, record and collect the information needed to comply with your state’s privacy needs.

Smart automation will help reopen business faster

The COVID-19 crisis isn’t primarily an economic issue; rather, it’s a health- and humanitarian-affected scenario. Reducing workforce health risks on site will require companies to create new and effective best practices. Some of these may include social distancing, as well as shift scheduling to ensure workplaces are less crowded. Scheduling employees on alternate days or times is an area where data can help, based on the type of work they are doing and the location they need to work or sit in. Utilizing the correct data platform can help automate some of those decisions, or at least help the organization make intelligent conclusions.

Additionally, as more companies like Apple and Google help with the COVID-19 crisis by innovative contact-tracing solutions, more data and insights will become available to monitor risks, operations and safety. Proactively evolving and engaging your data strategy, blended with contact tracing, data will enable you to tap into the new information, an immensely critical way to protect employees coming into contact with one another on location.

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Remote workforce data can reveal strategic insights

Another important role that data can play is helping to unpack how successful organizations were in working remotely. How well did teams perform and collaborate? Over a very short period of time, many organizations were forced to accelerate or greatly scale adoption of remote capabilities, video conferencing and engagement. The “new normal” for companies is going to look more like a hybrid between where we are within the crisis and where we were before—but the business landscape has proved that it’s possible to engage more digitally with team members, customers, vendors and suppliers. Harnessing the data, organizations should continue to look for ways to leverage the remote best practices they learned to help reduce costs, improve employee satisfaction and provide true value to their customers.

For some organizations that weren’t able to operate through the first few months of the pandemic, reentry may mean reopening. If you’re just starting to resume business, you’re likely needing to respond to a demand that has been built up for a long time. Data analytics will play an even bigger role in providing demand predictions, as well as prescribing action to take advantage of new opportunities.

With over 20 years of IT experience, including more than 17 years of SAP experience and 40 global SAP implementations, Jennifer Kling has proven results in all phases of the SDLC. She has expertise in workforce planning to reduce organizational headcount, increase ROI and reduce total cost of ownership.

Senior leader, innovator and technologist Ram Palaniappan brings broad experience in big data, BI, mobility and cloud solutions. Ram has worked with Oracle and Deloitte and is a featured thought leader in the space, including contributing to articles in major IT publications, such as Information Week, and serving as a featured speaker at multiple forums and conferences.