- CHROs and other business leaders should perform a cost-benefit analysis in deciding whether and how to return employees to offices, according to a March 23 recommendation from ExecOnline, a leadership development firm.
- The organization said it reached that conclusion after conducting a survey about virtual work. Business leaders overwhelmingly agreed that there are benefits to remote work but also noted barriers that negatively affect culture and relationships.
- In deciding whether to remain virtual, adopt a hybrid approach or return to pre-pandemic norms, HR pros may need to consider how an employer will create culture and networks, the firm said.
Workplace culture eroded during the pandemic, according to a report released several months after many employers sent office employees home to work.
But as impending widespread vaccination brings a return to the office into view, many employers are considering a hybrid approach, at least as an initial step. PwC survey results released in January revealed that many workers said they'd like to continue working from home at least three days a week; the office remains important for collaboration and building relationships, most said. Executives who responded to the survey also largely said they believed an office was an important part of maintaining a strong culture, but many agreed three days a week on site would be sufficient.
If employers hope to pursue such arrangements, HR may need to plan for more deliberate culture-building efforts, especially in light of the length of time employees have worked exclusively from home: Forty-four percent of respondents to ExecOnline's report said it was difficult to maintain corporate and team culture without in-person contact — a figure up from 39% in the early weeks of the pandemic.