As we approach the end of 2020, companies are scrambling to figure out what the workplace will look like in the upcoming year. HR teams, in particular, are being faced with a lot of questions about the future of work.
But the truth is that nobody has all the answers right now because we’re all operating partially blind. But we at Culture Amp have a little insight, and we’ll use this post to identify the issues that HR should pay close attention to in the following months. We’ll also explain how to use the power of employee feedback to start collecting information that will help you make decisions for 2021 and help you answer the question of how to prepare for the future of work.
Top considerations for the future of work
Right now, everyone wants to know what the workplace is going to look like in 2021. Will we still be remote? Or will we be preparing to return to the physical office? How do we protect the wellbeing of our employees while we make these transitions? While the answers to these questions will be different for every organization, we break down some key considerations to keep in mind when making these work-related decisions.
Our data suggests that there’s an appetite for remote work to continue and that this experience will shape what the future of remote work looks like for many organizations. But it’s important to recognize that remote work is about more than having Zoom set up or hosting an occasional virtual happy hour. There are deeper questions that HR teams will need to think through, such as:
- Are we going to continue offering a fully remote work environment?
- How do our employees currently feel about working remotely?
- Do we have a documented set of rules, practices, and cultural norms to guide employees as they work remotely?
- What types of resources are we providing to employees to ensure they have a successful work set up at home?
At the start of the pandemic, many employees made the decision to move back home or relocate to more affordable areas since they don’t need to be close to their offices. With the uncertainty around the trajectory of COVID-19, it’s unclear whether this mass relocation is a temporary or permanent situation for employees. That said, it may be necessary to start developing policies and guidelines around relocation. Here are some questions HR teams need to start working through in 2021:
- Are we going to allow our employees to permanently relocate?
- Do we have a plan to handle the logistics (i.e. taxes, filings, etc.) of having employees distributed across various states?
- How do we figure out who is relocating permanently and who is planning to return?
- Do we have a policy about adjusting employee pay based on their location?
Return to the office
Our Return To Work survey found that 51% of employees feel ready to return to the workplace. While this doesn’t give us a definitive answer to anything, our findings revealed that respondents are most concerned about factors related to support, wellbeing, safety measures, and travel. Knowing this can help HR identify the most important questions to think about if considering a return to the office, such as:
- What is our plan to support employees in their transition back to the office?
- How are we going to protect the health and safety of our employees when they’re back in the office?
- How will we approach employees who are feeling overwhelmed or anxious about the return to the office?
- What will be our policy around work-related travel?
A hybrid approach
There are many organizations that are thinking about taking a hybrid approach that allows employees to choose the option that’s most comfortable for them. While this gives employees the most flexibility, it can also present additional logistical challenges. Here are a few things to think through if your team is considering a hybrid approach:
- Are we going to renew our office lease for employees who want to return?
- How will we manage the number of employees who are in the office on a given day?
- How do we create cohesive guidelines for those who are remote vs. at the office?
- Will everyone be allowed to be remote or relocate? Or will there be restrictions?
The importance of employee feedback
It’s clear that there’s no shortage of questions HR is trying to answer. But how can teams make informed decisions instead of guessing about the future of their workforce? This is the time to figure out your employee feedback strategy and use the data you collect to guide decisions for 2021.
Thankfully, at Culture Amp, we have many existing resources when it comes to launching, implementing, and taking action on employee feedback. We’ve compiled all of the most relevant content below to help you find the information that you need.
- Return to Work survey template
- COVID-19 Employee Wellbeing survey template
- Emergency Response survey templates
Survey strategy and execution
- Employee feedback strategy: Your guide to success
- Guide to launching a survey during an emergency
- How to get leadership buy-in for an employee feedback strategy
- Guide to iterate on your survey design and strategy
- How to write an actionable employee survey comment
- The importance of anonymous and attributed employee feedback
- Employee survey comments: How to interpret and take action
- Action Framework: Acting effectively on employee feedback
- Employee experience data: The secret to tough decisions
It can feel overwhelming to try to figure out what the workplace will look like in 2021. We want to remind you that nobody has all the answers, and it’s completely okay to say, “I don’t know, but we’re doing our best to figure it out,” when faced with questions about the future of work. Use our recommendations to think through various scenarios and leverage the power of employee feedback to drive your decisions.
Want to learn more about how other companies have responded to COVID-19?