Future of Work Is No Longer an Idea

Image credit: iStockphoto/Urupong

If you think the future of work is coming, think again.

A new Aon global pulse survey, “Preparing for the Future: How COVID-19 is Changing How and Where People Work Forever,” showed that companies are already making the future of work a reality. As a result, it has stopped being an aspirational idea.

“The disruptions of the past 18 months accelerated workplace transformation like nothing else in recent memory,” said Michel Burke, chief executive officer for Aon’s human capital business. “This dynamic presents leaders with an incredible opportunity to align their business and people strategies to drive growth and optimize investments. Our survey highlights the areas where firms are focusing first.”

More than three in four surveyed companies (78%) have one or more teams or taskforces defining, managing, and implementing the future of work. In addition, 85% of organizations say they now have a clear and consistent definition of what the future of work means for their business or expect to have a definition in the next six months.

The three most prevalent issues shaping future-of-work definitions are rethinking company cultures, addressing talent availability concerns, and boosting inclusion and diversity, cited by 98%, 98%, and 96% of companies, respectively. Looking more closely at inclusion and diversity efforts, 74% of surveyed companies state HR teams are most responsible for setting strategy and leading programs in this area. Additionally, 79% of firms have created or are planning to create inclusion and diversity metrics or goals to track progress.

Part of these efforts is to drive return-to-workplace strategies. Globally, 73% of surveyed organizations said that they already have expected return dates in mind. The largest share of companies (43%) expecting remote workers to return in Q3 2021.

Not everyone is expected to return to the office. Globally, 44% of surveyed organizations expect fewer than 75% of office workers to return onsite once the pandemic is over.

Many are seriously considering flexible or hybrid working options as part of their future work strategies, with 39% of companies expecting returning workers to spend only two to three days per week in the office. Another 13% of companies opt to give employees a choice in terms of how much time they spend in the office.

As workers head back onsite, companies are taking a proactive and supportive approach to vaccine adoption, showing a substantial involvement in employee health and safety. However, they are largely stopping short of mandates. Globally, only 5% of surveyed organizations currently plan to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for employees where allowed by law, with another 9% of organizations actively considering this approach.

Meanwhile, 33% of organizations are offering incentives to employees who receive COVID-19 vaccines, most often in the form of paid time-off to administer and recover from injections, and 56% of companies are actively educating employees on the benefits of getting vaccinated.

Image credit: iStockphoto/Urupong