- More than half of a group of HR leaders surveyed by advisory firm Gartner in June report that their organizations have continued business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit at a reduced level.
- Gartner surveyed 172 HR leaders, it said in a statement. In a smaller pool of 146 of the respondents, 40% said the business priority that has changed the most since January is optimizing costs. A separate Gartner survey, conducted in May, found that HR leaders have changed their overall priorities during the pandemic. Namely, organizations are placing an increased emphasis on planning for the future of work after the pandemic, Gartner said.
- "For many, if not all organizations, the 3-year strategic plan may be gone and planning is occurring quarterly," Brian Kropp, chief of research for Gartner's HR practice, said in the statement. "Perhaps most importantly, understanding the future of work is about understanding the permanent workplace shifts post-COVID."
In the near-term, the biggest question for most organizations may be whether to return the same number of workers back to central offices from remote work. Leading companies that have higher volumes of white-collar jobs, like Facebook, have extended expectations that employees will work from home, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg telling employees that much of the company's workforce will need to work remotely "for some time to come."
Even after offices reopen, HR observers have generally settled on the point that the typical work environment will see many modifications. This is supported by recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, which advised employers not to reopen without first putting in place health and safety precautions to protect employees, including handwashing, face covering, disinfection, ventilation and social distancing policies, among others. Workplace testing may be able to provide a clearer picture as to which workers may return, but even a robust testing system would not eliminate the need for other precautions, legal sources previously told HR Dive.
HR leaders appear to recognize this reality. In an April report, nearly half of HR leaders surveyed by Gartner said more than 80% of their employees were working from home during the pandemic. The firm concluded in a report released earlier this month that the pandemic would drive other organizational changes as well, including increased use of contingent workers and growth of employee monitoring strategies.
On a broader scale, employee training and development have taken on a prominent place in future planning. Distance learning may provide more accessibility to training content, sources previously told HR Dive. And employee interest in development appears to be on the rise, too: An April report from Cornerstone's Institute of People Development found 40% of clients saw an increase of logins in March, with learners spending more than 27 million hours on consuming learning content in that month alone.