• Salient Strategies

A New Reality for America's Workforce

As the pandemic continues to influence work trends, businesses are forced to rethink the new “work-from-home economy” as it is likely to stay.

In July, Google announced that its 200,000 employees will continue to work from home until next summer while Facebook anticipates half of their staff to be completely remote within the next decade. Twitter announced back in May that their employees are allowed to work from home indefinitely. With more corporations becoming accepting of the new

virtual reality, it begs the question: what will Corporate America look like post-pandemic?

Results from several nationwide surveys during the COVID-related economic shutdown provides insight of a new emerging reality. Gallup’s poll in early April suggests that 62 percent of employed Americans work from home compared to 25 percent a few years prior. Many organizations have seen an increase in employee performance with the adoption of videoconferencing and other digital collaborations outlets.

Liberated from long commutes, employees are enjoying the newfound flexibility between their personal and professional lives. According to McKinsey research, 80 percent of people surveyed said they enjoyed working from home. 41 percent claim to be more productive and 28 percent say they are just as productive.

Continuing remote working

A recent Gartner poll showed that 48 percent of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time post- COVID versus 30 percent pre-pandemic. As companies shift to a hybrid remote work environment, employers and leadership will need to re-evaluate business strategies and shift performance goals to fit a more virtual context.

Contingent worker expansion

The economic uncertainty caused many organizations to respond by reducing their contractor budgets, however, with the ever-changing year of 2020, there is another shift. Gartner analysis predicts that companies will continue to expand their use of contracted workers to maintain a more flexible workforce and will consider replicating job models used during the pandemic such as talent sharing and 80 percent pay for 80 percent work. “Our research finds that 32 percent of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure,” says Brian Kropp, distinguished VP Gartner. “While gig workers offer employers greater workforce management flexibility, HR leaders will need to evaluate how performance will be eligible for the same benefits as their full-time peers.”

New supportive benefits for employees

Mental health and feelings of isolation is one of the biggest challenges when working remotely. Previously, companies didn’t address this issue for their work-at-home employees due to the fact that not enough people—especially decision makers—have never experienced this style of working. Now that managers and employees alike are experiencing the same at-home challenges, companies are wanting to provide emotional and mental support. Businesses are creating new ways to engage with their workforce to ensure that employees still feel connected with their team(s).

Nothing is certain, but change is imminent as we continue to navigate and move towards a more virtual reality.