Gartner: Risks Associated with Returning Employees to an Office

Published On: June 28, 2021Categories: Buzz, Uncategorized

As more organizations explore returning to work after Covid vaccinations are more widely distributed, executive leaders must consider how this presents significant risks to retention, performance and diversity/equity/inclusion (DEI).

As executives decide when and how to return employees to physical workplaces, some still favor a “hard return” — a mandatory return to an on-site location for most of the work week. For many, health and safety has been the initial priority, but executive leaders must also consider the potential risks to retention, performance, and DEI.

“Forcing employees back into nonflexible work arrangements could leave organizations vulnerable to talent being actively poached by employers that offer the kind of flexibility employees have come to expect during the pandemic,” said Brian Kopp, Chief of HR Research at Gartner. “Employees have proved they can be productive when remote and are now challenging employers to articulate why they should return.”

Most employees favor flexible work conditions. Over half of employees (55%) say that whether they can work flexibly will impact whether they stay at their organizations. Among employees who are currently working remotely or in a hybrid arrangement, 75% say their expectations for working flexibly have increased.

Today, more employees have work method flexibility than temporal and locational flexibility. For instance, around 71% of employees indicate that their job allows them to use personal initiative or judgment, but only 25% say that their role allows them to work from anywhere they want.

Gartner research shows that performance improves when employees are given flexibility over where, when and how much they work. Additionally, 76% of employees report that there has been an overall improvement in culture since the shift to remote work. Business leaders are urged to create a more human-centric work design to help employees sustain high performance while minimizing remote work fatigue in the hybrid world.

“In the long term, though, many organizations will gravitate toward hybrid work environments, moving away from location-centric ways of thinking and incorporating a human-centric design that provides the kind of radical flexibility that can fuel performance,” said Kropp.

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Companies both in the channel and outside of the channel should develop a strategy based on the specific circumstances of their companies and customers. Partner with IT and real estate to deliver the value proposition of the on-site location. Collaboration is key to leveraging the value of an on-site location.

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