- Hybrid workforce strategy — enabling employees to work from different types of worksites — will factor heavily into HR planning for 2021, according to a Jan. 13 statement by consulting firm Gartner.
- Employers will need to revisit remote and hybrid work policies written during the pandemic and establish triggers for reviewing these policies in order to prevent them from becoming "impractical," Gartner said. If employees work from multiple spaces in 2021, "[o]rganizations must decide what their corporate offices can offer employees that other spaces cannot."
- At the same time HR teams may look to robotic process automation, virtual reality and similar technologies to reduce the need for employees to work on-site. Employers may also experiment with gig-worker arrangements and similar models moving forward, Gartner said, while talent strategy will also need to be revisited to ensure diversity and inclusion commitments can be met.
Gartner and other consultancies have consistently cited work flexibility as an emerging post-pandemic trend. Many employers appear to agree; a survey of U.S. individuals last year by Mercer found that 83% of respondents said their companies were considering implementing flexible work arrangements at a greater scale than they did prior to the pandemic, and 73% reported plans to implement a hybrid work environment.
Hybrid work models are already beginning to see inclusion in corporate reopening plans. Perhaps the most notable example is Google, which announced that upon reopening its offices in September 2021, the company will pilot a hybrid scheduling model allowing certain employees to alternate between on-site and off-site work for a set number of days per week.
Executives at publishing firm Wiley told HR Dive the company would similarly allow for either permanent remote arrangements or hybrid arrangements for some employees. Wiley cited real estate cost savings, increased employee satisfaction and diversity and inclusion goals as reasons for the shift.
In order to ensure a successful transition to hybrid work models, employers may need to implement changes to their pay practices or other policies Workers, for example, may decide to relocate permanently given the prospect of remote work. For those who move from areas with a high cost of living to cheaper locales, employers may opt to adjust their pay or otherwise institute restrictions on where employees can be located in relation to a company office.
There are also logistical and cultural issues that similarly existed during the move to remote work at many organizations. Employers, for example, have had to adjust hiring practices such as drug screenings during the pandemic. Teams may also need to refine and revisit communication structures, project planning and similar list items impacted by the pandemic.