The Rise in Remote Work is Changing Higher Education

Over the past 18 months, remote work has been forced on the global workforce. If you work in an office, and you can do your job from home, then you are most likely now working from your house. This new style of working presents challenges to HR leaders in almost every industry. Forbes even thinks that remote work will be the biggest legacy of COVID-19. However, these challenges are specifically difficult for HR Leaders in Higher Education. With the hyper localized mentality of college campuses, and ever changing employment law, many HR leaders are struggling to cope.

Biggest Challenges caused by Remote Work in Higher Education

  1. Hyper-localized mentality: Most colleges and universities live within the world of their campus. Most of the people involved with the university learn, work, eat, and live ON CAMPUS. However, with COVID-19 forcing everyone to learn and work from home, HR Leaders are facing challenges they’ve never experienced.
    • Employees move out of state
      • Employment law in those states may be different.
      • Most colleges are not entities (registered employers) in states other than their home state.
      • HR Leaders can now hire out of state workers
    • The rise in contract and part time work
      • Tracking hours worked remotely is difficult in comparison to tracking hours worked on campus.
      • The gig economy has created the interest in contract work even in higher education.
      • There are limitations put on higher ed institutions that choose to hire part time workers.
  2. Remote on-boarding: Now that hiring takes place remotely, many HR leaders are struggling to execute their onboarding tasks with new hires. Each August the annual onboarding frenzy typically begins. The only difference is now it can all be done online, or at least it should be. Rather than “going down to the HR office” employees are having to onboard remotely. Doing I-9s, payroll info, and other “forms” are not easy to do remotely, unless your HR team is prepared.
  3. Use of technology: Teaching remotely, learning remotely, and anything else done “remotely” means you have to use technology. That goes for payroll, insurance, benefits, time sheets, and more. Teaching everyone how to use technology, especially when it is new, is difficult. Many organizations are taking this opportunity to implement new technologies to cope with the changing working environment. Those implementations come with their own challenges as well. Unfortunately, due to these things HR leaders are left picking up the pieces and just trying to get people to work. One HR leader we spoke to said, “I have 16 roles to fill but I am only really able to work on 2 because it takes so long to work on these new roles with our systems”. That’s pretty rough. Try telling that to the dozens of hiring managers that are asking for your help filling their job openings as an HR manager.

What are Higher Education Institutions doing about these issues?

Many Higher Education institutions are having to answer questions they have not had to worry about before. As a result, some of the questions higher education HR leaders are faced with are similar to the below.

  • What do we do when an employee moves out of state?
    • How do we handle the employment law there?
    • Do we need to become an entity in that state?
    • We’ve never employed anyone outside of our state before. 
  • Will this increasing rise in remote workers expand our employment risk profile?
    • Do we need to get more insurance?
    • Do we need to get different insurance?
  • How do we handle workers compensation insurance in other states? 

Luckily there are many Higher Education institutions that are finding success leveraging an Employer of Record (EOR) Platform like FoxHire for their out of state and contingent workforce. Having a partner that is available to handle all the risk and answer the questions that many HR leaders are dealing with has proven highly valuable for HR leaders in this space. 

The benefits of an Employer of Record (EOR) in Higher Education.

Due to the lack of need in the past, many universities and higher education institutions were completely unaware of EOR services 24 months ago. However, they’ve found through searching for solutions that an EOR helps solve many of the problems that remote work creates. Simply put, having an all in one payroll, compliance, tax, and onboarding solution enables them to forget about their concerns and focus on growing their enrollment. 

Benefits of an EOR:

  • Hire the best staff in any state
  • Retain workers moving out of state
  • Expand the schedules of part time works above 30 hours per week
  • Avoid employment compliance issues out of state
    • Specifically for high risk states like:
      • California
      • New York
      • Illinois
      • Massachusetts
      • Pennsylvania
      • Connecticut
      • Delaware
      • And more…
  • Bypass the red tape of typical hiring processes within higher education institutions
  • Outsource the tedious and time consuming onboarding process for each worker
    • This can save HR Leaders hundreds of hours each hiring season

Looking to The Future

The rise in remote work won’t be going away any time soon. Whether your organization chooses to partner with an EOR or not, the future of work in higher education will be increasingly remote. As a result, having a game plan to help your organization handle these changes will be critical to your success and an institution, and for your ability to grow your enrollment. Having the best talent will create the best experience for students. That experience will motivate others to enroll at your university. If you can find a way to hire remote workers, you will have a leg up on other institutions competing for new students.