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As the response to COVID-19 moves from a short-term response to a long-term shift in how and where people work, organizations that optimize support for the new ways of working will thrive.

The discussion around employee experience and digital tools has rapidly intensified; moving beyond attracting and retaining talent to enabling and supporting an on-premises and remote workforce with capabilities and technologies that are now mission critical. Organizations that succeed in this new environment will plan for the entire workplace ecosystem, equipping all employees and supporting critical business operations.

Organizations can rapidly adapt to the new workplace by developing personas to understand how employees want to work, and journey maps that highlight critical touchpoints throughout the employee experience.

The KPMG perspective

With the global spread of COVID-19, social distancing and self-isolation tactics are being recommended or mandated by health officials, forcing companies to redefine how they conduct business. Many organizations have reacted quickly, doing what’s required to keep the lights on and their employees working safely. Moving forward, as more of the workforce discovers they can be effective working remotely, organizations need to evolve their capabilities to best support their employees and business operations.

As organizations support the new ways of working, focusing on employee experience is essential to keep workers connected, engaged and productive. Organizations must consider all three elements of the employee experience – i.e., Digital & Tools, Sociocultural, and Environmental – and determine what actions they can take over the four phases of the pandemic recovery: React, Resilience, Recovery and the New Reality.

What recovery phase are you in? Here are some key considerations:

React & Resilience

  • Have we identified critical capabilities or processes that will be most impacted by COVID-19? 
  • Have we assessed your current organizational capabilities, processes and protocols for on-premises and remote working? 
  • Can our IT infrastructure support the full adoption of remote working? 


  • Have we identified the critical functions or processes where we need continued capacity? 
  • Are our employees able to collaborate with one another effectively? 
  • Have we created a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in the event our workers are quarantined? Is backup capacity available? 

New Reality

  • What will potential changes in customer service delivery look like that will have lasting impact on capacity planning? 
  • What are the new policies we need to draft to balance employee costs and business continuity?
  • How will we drive a culture of collaboration?

Potential action items for employee experience across the four phases of recovery

  React/Resilience Recovery New Reality
Digital & Tools
  • Ensure network/VPN can support remote working
  • Assess business critical systems availability and resiliency
  • Adjust IT support models
  • Ensure employees can perform their job at home (hardware, software)
  • Validate cybersecurity capabilities 
  • Identify gaps that exist across technology domains and develop options for filling gaps 
  • Identify areas of AI/Automation enhancement 
  • Implement upgrades/enhancements to availability/reliability as needed 
  • Institute tools for measuring workforce productivity 
  • Adjust remaining IT operating models 
  • Security and resiliency by design 
  • Implementations at scale 
  • Develop AI/Automation enhancements 
  • Innovative technology solutions that support a flexible workforce 
  • Revisit employee assistance programs (EAPs), highlighting available mental health support 
  • Personalize interactions where possible, tuning in to employee engagement (before jumping to the work at hand) 
  • Accommodate for varying ways of working preferences with flexible work arrangements / ‘online’ time 
  • Identify work habits and behavioral patterns within a population to develop personas and prioritize unique and emerging needs 
  • Explore associated journey maps to determine where the relationship with the organization is breaking down requiring extra interaction 
  • Establish mechanisms to capture the voice of the employee to keep a pulse on barriers to engagement 
  • Action the gaps determined during persona needs analysis and journey map pain points 
  • Customize engagement tactics for those uniquely impacted by remote work e.g. those in primary child care roles, caregivers, and other segments 
  • Embrace virtual collaboration environments (e.g. 
  • Microsoft Teams, Microsoft SharePoint, Confluence, Jira, etc.) 
  • Set remote working standards and expectations for a culture of collaboration 
  • Enhance leadership capabilities to successfully manage in a remote environment 
  • Develop workplace planning principles that align with the new ways of working 
  • Adjust the organizational model to support an on-premises and remote workplace 
  • Design a socially-supportive environment to enable an expanded network for a positive motivating effect and sense of belonging