Number of the day: hybrid work models

Employers plan to continue flexible work arrangements, Mercer data shows. Here's what that means to HR leaders.
By: | July 22, 2021

The vast majority of a group of 510 employers with flexible work programs in place since the pandemic began (meaning they have allowed workers to work both at home or in the office) say that post-pandemic they will adopt a hybrid work model—a blend of in-person and remote working (70%), according to data from HR consulting firm Mercer. Meanwhile, 20% will return to a predominately office-based model, and 6% say they will adopt a virtual-first or fully remote model.

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What it means for HR leaders

COVID-19 has undoubtedly accelerated the trend of flexible work, although the model was already popular among employees pre-pandemic.

Although most employers have said they will continue embracing flexible work arrangements during the pandemic and beyond—with research finding that employees have said they will leave their jobs if they don’t have the option to work remote—many organizations haven’t yet spelled out what that policy would be. Many employers have said they are still deciding how to proceed with their working models.

The new Mercer data, though, find some employers now have a specific plan in place for how they’ll approach it. Nearly all (97%) of employers plan to implement post-pandemic changes to flexible working. Almost half (47%) are actively developing a strategy now and 23% of employers are in the process of implementation or have already implemented plans.

In general, employers are wise to embrace flexible arrangements, including hybrid and remote models, says Ravin Jesuthasan, global leader of Mercer’s transformation business and a keynote speaker at the upcoming HR Tech Conference in Las Vegas, especially considering the state of the job market.

“Flexibility will likely have a high impact on an organization’s ability to retain talent,” Jesuthasan says. “If an employee isn’t satisfied with an employers’ flexible working plans, they will likely consider other companies that better meet their needs.”

Lauren Mason, principal in Mercer’s career business, adds that employers should set guidelines to make it successful: “Employers can and should empower teams to continue to work flexibly but establish guidelines to maximize business outcomes and ensure a consistent employee experience.”

Read more: The future of work arrived quicker than anticipated, and tech can help HR keep up, Ravin Jesuthasan says

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.

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