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Remote Work – There is No Turning Back Now

May 6, 2021

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

More than two-thirds (68%) of U.S. workers prefer a hybrid workplace model after the pandemic ends, according to Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker survey, conducted by Morning Consult in March. Of those surveyed who have been working remotely, 87% want to continue to work remotely at least one day per week post-pandemic.

According to the survey, 42% of current remote workers say if their current company does not continue to offer remote work options long term, they will look for a job at a company that does. This signals that a “war for talent” may be looming if companies don’t address workers’ needs. A significant number of respondents said they switched jobs during the pandemic (20%) or plan to look for a new job when the threat of the pandemic decreases (26%).

Among those planning to seek new employment post-pandemic, 80% say they are concerned about their career growth, compared to 49% of all workers. Additionally, the majority of this group (72%) are rethinking their skill sets.

“The workplace of the future is here,” says Rob Falzon, Prudential vice chair. “Leaders must approach each component of this new normal as an opportunity to maximize company culture and differentiate themselves as an employer of choice.”

To remain competitive in an already challenging talent market, organizations will need to offer flexibility when they can.

Issues of communication and company culture were also top of mind among workers surveyed, and employers that worked to maintain both will find it easier to retain talent, the survey finds. In fact, 42% of workers with plans to leave their current employer graded them a “C” or below for their ability to maintain employee connectedness and culture during the pandemic.

A recent survey by McKinsey & Company found that 40% of employees say they’ve yet to hear about any post-pandemic vision from their organizations, and another 28% say that what they’ve heard remains vague.  Only 32% stated their organization has communicated well about how they will work after the pandemic.

This lack of communication causes great anxiety for employees. 47% feel a lack of celar vision about the post-pandemic world is a cause for concern. This anxiety can increase burnout. Burnout is especially pronounced for people feeling anxious due to a lack of organizational communication. These employees were almost three times more likely to report feeling burned out.

The McKinsey survey also found that going back to a fully on-site model is likely to have significant talent implications. 30% of employees surveyed said they are likely to switch jobs if returned to fully on-site work.

Employers should prepare now for the return to work and communicate those plans to employees. Those organizations willing to implement a hybrid, flexible work model will have a competitive edge over those who don’t.

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