Remote Work Likely To Remain An Option For Employees Post-Pandemic

Remote work, at least part of the time, may be here to stay even after a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available and the pandemic passes. A survey of 130 human resource leaders by research and advisory firm Gartner found that 90 percent plan to allow employees to spend some part of their time working remotely, and 65 percent of respondents reported that their organization will continue to offer employees flexibility on when they work.

With a vaccine forthcoming, the HR leaders Gartner surveyed predicted that about half of their workforce will want to return to the workplace—at least part time.

“With a COVID-19 vaccine rollout approaching, HR leaders are now faced with an onslaught of questions, including if they can or should require employees to be vaccinated, what the employer’s responsibility is in helping employees and their families get vaccinated, and how the release of vaccines impacts their return-to-the-workplace strategy,” says Elisabeth Joyce, vice president of advisory in the Gartner HR practice.

Sixty-two percent of those surveyed reported that they are planning to continue all safety measures they have put in place once a COVID-19 vaccine is available. Nearly one-third of respondents noted they would no longer require masks in the workplace nor enforce social distancing in high-traffic areas.

“Right now, organizations are considering different policies for employees who receive the vaccine and those who do not,” says Joyce. “What is most critical is that HR leaders are making these decisions with the expectation that they may need to course correct as we learn more.”

Several geographic regions are currently experiencing a COVID-19 resurgence, requiring employers to take action to maintain the health and safety of their workforce. Among the HR leaders surveyed, 46 percent said their organization has already, or will, shut down offices that had previously been reopened; 37 percent reported extending new benefits to employees, such as childcare assistance and additional sick leave.

When a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, 60 percent of those surveyed said they will encourage employees to get vaccinated, but it will not be required. Sixty percent of respondents reported they will provide resources to employees on where and how to get vaccinated and 44 percent said they plan to cover or subsidize the costs of the vaccine for employees.

"While there are concerns around the COVID-19 vaccine, including privacy and data security, ultimately, there are many factors involved in making decisions around an organization’s vaccination strategy, including local government regulations,” says Joyce. “Therefore, it is critical that HR leaders work closely with their legal and compliance partners.”

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