Most companies in America are now using hybrid schedules, at least for those industries that allow it. However, many of them want to reduce workplace flexibility.
This was one of the major takeaways of Littler Mendelson's Annual Report on Employer Survey, which revealed that 71% of employers use a hybrid schedule at least for some employees.
Some companies are not happy about the arrangement. Nearly half of employers plan to increase onsite work by 2022, a trend that we have reported before.
Devjani Mishra said that questions and disagreements about hybrid work have become more frequent as companies get into their routines.
She said that answers would vary depending on the industry and company, but that one thing that was consistent is that companies that insist that employees work in offices more because it's been done that way in the past are more likely than others to face opposition.
She said that if it is tied to the actual work, then it is the best way to do it. "There needs to be a deeper discussion about why we do things this way."
Misrha says that three years after the Covid-19 epidemic sent millions of workers to home, there are still many assessments and recalculations going on. This is due in part to the numerous fits and starts of return-to office efforts, which continue to be made by some companies.
Due to this upheaval the focus was on simple questions such as the number of days spent in the office. She said that now that many companies are operating in hybrid environments more unique challenges have emerged that were not previously addressed.
She said, 'Now you can see how few parameters we have in this situation.
This is especially true when it comes to issues such as child care and the connection between remote work and that.
Before the pandemic, remote working was rarer. She said that you had to prove your case. "Considering that it would need to be granted, the agreement could be revoked anytime. These agreements would say that this is our time. This time belongs to us and you cannot use it for anything else.
All that changed when the pandemic hit. Mishra says that now that employees don't ask for permission to work at home every day, they're discovering that there are many scenarios that are not being accounted for.
This is especially true of hybrid workers who are parents or caregivers. It creates some difficult situations for employers, particularly when it comes working parents without child care.
Some employers have tried to create specific rules on the subject but they've found it a difficult task after three years.
You have many people who say, "We've done this for years." She asked, 'What's the difference between doing this with a child who is 3 and a child of 4?'
Mishra noted that companies should consider these factors when developing policies for remote work, knowing they can have an adverse effect on certain groups such as working mothers.
She said that, given the spotlight currently on equity, transparency, and employee wellbeing, leaders of companies need to communicate and develop their policies for remote work clearly and consistently in order to encourage employee satisfaction and engagement.
The issue of basic fairness at work is also important.
She said that a number of managers are using remote work and hybrid work. This creates a tension because someone, or several people, in the company want employees to return to their workplace, but another layer of management benefits from this.
Experts agree that it is important for employers to continue to discuss remote and hybrid policies, as they evolve. They also say to look for common ground whenever possible.
Many are still repressive when it comes back to the workplace.
Mishra says that companies must recognize the benefits and drawbacks of remote working. One of the biggest positives is the expansion of a company's talent pool, at a time where the shortage of skilled workers remains the number one problem for businesses of all sizes.
In the survey, a significant gap was found between employers in America versus Europe in how they approach work in this post-Covid-19 age. Around 30% of European employers have their workers in the office full-time, compared with just 16% of American companies.
Mishra believes that the labor market is a major factor in determining these plans.
Littler's study found that despite economic turmoil and a softening job market, only 20% of employers believed they were gaining enough power to help them push for more on-site work. This is the same percentage who reported it was easier to retain and recruit employees.