Why Work May Never Be the Same, in 3 Graphs

Those of us now working full-time from home have seen firsthand just how different an experience it is from working in a communal space with colleagues. It’s also become clear that returning employees to their worksites will not be a fast or simple process. What we’re just starting to grasp is that when the tidal wave of COVID recedes, it is likely to leave a very different work environment in its wake.

In our latest employer poll on COVID-19 impacts (with about 450 respondents so far) we asked about the past, present and future of remote working. Before the pandemic, remote working was not all that common. Only 1 out of 10 respondents said 25% of employees or more worked remotely before the pandemic. That jumps to 9 in 10 when respondents were asked to describe their current state, which is not surprising given the restrictions that are still in place. What is surprising – even shocking – is that when we ask respondents to predict the future, post-COVID state of remote working, the numbers don’t return to anywhere near the original level. In fact, 6 in 10 employers foresee that at least 25% of their workers will continue to work remotely after restrictions caused by the pandemic end. 

While it’s early days and employers’ current predictions are only that – predictions – it’s time to start thinking about the implications of this type of shift will have on business operations and human capital management, including employee health plans and well-being initiatives. Some of the adaptations employers are making on the fly now may stick. When asked which COVID-related changes were likely to become permanent fixtures, the top three cited were virtual people management processes like hiring and on-boarding (66%), virtual health and wellness offerings (65%), and virtual training (56%). You can also learn about some of the changes leading companies are making right now at the COVID-19 Corporate Memory Project, described on the website as “a free and collaborative resource designed to collect, preserve and present the real-time history of the pandemic through the lens of how corporations are responding to the crisis and influencing its outcome.”

You can also track employer response to COVID-19 in our latest poll. Take the survey and then immediately view the continuously updating results.

Beth Umland
by Beth Umland

Director of Research, Health, Mercer

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