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How to Enable a Global Hybrid Workforce Transformation

CEOs agree, enabling 'remote working' options for their highly skilled talent is now essential to their digital growth goals. For many CHROs, supporting remote work is routine. HR leaders must cater to parts of their workforce that drive key growth initiatives, and deliver new human resource policies that are most beneficial.

A survey of HR leaders has revealed that 90 percent of respondents plan to allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time, even after the COVID-19 pandemic vaccine is widely adopted.

Furthermore, 65 percent of respondents reported that their organization will continue to offer employees flexibility on when and where they choose to work. That's a 'talent retention' imperative for 2021.

Hybrid Work Infrastructure Market Development

As the global distribution of various COVID-19 vaccines begin, HR leaders who responded to a recent Gartner survey predict that about 50 percent of their workforce may want to return to the workplace – at least part-time – once a vaccine is made widely available and proven effective.

"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," said Elisabeth Joyce, vice president at Gartner.

Sixty-two percent of HR leaders surveyed reported that they're planning to continue all safety measures 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," said Ms. 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 around the globe are currently experiencing a COVID-19 pandemic resurgence, requiring employers to take action to maintain the health and safety of their workforce.

Among HR leaders surveyed, 46 percent said their organization has already, or will, shut down offices that had previously been reopened -- also, 37 percent reported extending new benefits to employees, such as childcare assistance and more sick leave.

When a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available in their area, 60 percent of HR leaders surveyed said they will encourage employees to get vaccinated, but it won't be required as a condition of employment.

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," said Ms. Joyce. "Therefore, it is critical that HR leaders work closely with their legal and compliance partners."

Outlook for Flexible Hybrid Working Innovation

I believe the singular emphasis on in-office safety policies will diminish over time, as more employers acknowledge that many of their most skilled employees have no desire to return to any open office. Moreover, the widely recognized 'digital business skills gap' has created an environment where CHROs can't risk alienating their most essential employees with blanket 'return-to-office' mandates.

That said, I anticipate that remote working demand will remain steady, and job requirements will evolve rapidly as more organizations compete for the shallow pool of talent that's proven to deliver digital growth. One-size-fits-all HR policies are no longer viable in the highly competitive Global Networked Economy. CHROs must find creative ways to customize HR policies to address this big challenge.

Besides, enterprise IT organizations must provision and maintain 'secure network access' for current work-from-home (WFH) employees, and any new hire that may also need to reach software applications within the corporate on-premises data center and/or numerous SaaS providers in the cloud.

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