What would businesses do if a quarter of their employees refused to return to the office tomorrow or if most of their employees said they weren’t going to the office every day?
Recently published studies paint a sobering picture for business leaders about how and where their own employees may prefer to work.
The latest research confirms the results of previous surveys on remote work preferences. This underscores the disconnect that many employers have with workers over an issue which, as the delta variant of Covid continues to rise, takes on increased importance and significance.
A new survey by HealthEquity of 1,000 U.S. employees found that:
- 26% of those surveyed currently had no return-to-work plan on site.
- 77% did not want to return to work on site full time.
- 93% said the # 1 reason they didn’t want to return to an office was the time and costs associated with travel. Those who prefer to be remote full-time reported being more productive and in better mental health in a remote environment.
HealthEquity conducted the national survey in June 2021 in partnership with independent research firm 8 Acre Perspective.
The recently published Back to Work study by Medallia found that:
- 96% of American employees surveyed prefer to work on a hybrid basis.
- Almost half (49%) said that if their preferred work setup (for example, remotely or in the workplace) was not available, they were somewhat or very likely to seek employment with a company that proposed this configuration.
- Only two of five in-person workers said they had seen workplace policies change due to the delta variant.
Andrew Custage, chief analyst at Medallia, said: “Perhaps the clearest overview of [our] report is the importance of location flexibility in the minds of employees. Employers need to think hard about what levers they are willing to use to attract and retain talent, and should consider which levers are considered acceptable as part of planning their return to the office. “
Global slowdown in return to work
The Robin Work Platform announced today that it has seen an increase in the number of people who have worked once in the office but have not returned for the remainder of the calendar month. The “bounce rate” rose to 19% for all employees globally, up 27% from the first quarter.
Brian Muse, Chief Technology Officer of Robin, said: “A combination of summer vacation and Delta Variant precautions has reduced the number of times an average employee comes in a full day from 5.5 to April to 4.5 in August. Very few countries increased the number of employees working in the office in July and August.
He noted that “the percentage of people coming 3 to 4 times a week has fallen from 16% in April to less than 10% in August”.
Careful planning is hard to do
Maurice “Mo” Cayer is on the faculty of graduate programs in the departments of psychology and management at New Haven University. He said: “Even though the situation is very dynamic [and] do careful planning of talent and workplaces [is] hard to do, employers across the country are holding strategy discussion tables on the choices they should make in terms of talent policy.
“Some try to be proactive and take into account the key factors and stay nimble, while others seem to be very reactive and short-sighted in their choice of talent and workplace policies,” he said. -he observes.
To take the pulse
Cayer recommended that “employers take the pulse of their current and target workforce and put in place a structured and regular planning process.” He said they should also take into account “research evidence that working from home tends to lead to better worker productivity, while working on site can lead to increased innovation and contribute to greater productivity. culture of collaboration Deliberately consider trade-offs [that are] necessary.”
Advice to business leaders
Don’t be surprised how and where your employees prefer to work. Ask them now.
Evaluate overhead costs
Based on what you know or project about employee work preferences, estimate current and future overhead costs and budget accordingly.
The recently released KPMG CEO 2021 Outlook revealed that only 21% of CEOs are planning or have already reduced their physical footprint or office space due to the pandemic and changing work habits. “This is a sharp drop from the results of the survey conducted in 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 crisis, where seven in ten (69%) said they plan to reduce their footprint physical, ”KPMG said.
Update policies and plans
- Make sure employee policies are up to date and reflect the realities of the Delta variant and today’s workplace.
- Review and modify crisis management plans to reflect the impact the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis have had and will continue to have on all aspects of your organization.