For months, many have expected the widespread availability of a Covid-19 vaccine to drive a return to the workplace. But human resources leaders say remote work won’t stop at that point.
A Gartner survey of 130 human resources leaders in December determined 90% are planning to allow employees to operate remotely at least some of the time, even after the Covid-19 vaccine has become broadly available.
About two-thirds said their company will keep offering workers flexibility in scheduling.
This is welcome news for employees, since hybrid working arrangements appeal to a majority of workers, and flexible scheduling has become a lifeline for some balancing work and childcare duties.
A recent report found 72% want to continue working from home after the pandemic has ended, with most seeking to do so an average of two days per week. Three-quarters of workers expect their employer to support their desire to work from home.
Still, more than 100 HR leaders Gartner surveyed believe about half of the workforce will be ready for a return to the office at least part-time, once the vaccine has become widely available. The Wall Street Journal reports widespread office return is unlikely to happen before late spring or early summer.
Covid-19 vaccine rollout across the country has gone slower than anticipated due to poor planning and timing, and a lack of resources, Axios reports. As of Wednesday, just 1.5% of the population has received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, meaning only about 30% of what’s been distributed has been given to patients.
First doses have gone to frontline healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff, followed by older populations. Officials have said the vaccine should be available to the general public in the second quarter of the year.
Even once the vaccine is widely available, 62% of 118 HR leaders Gartner polled said their organization plans to maintain safety measures they’ve put in place. Almost one-third, however, said they would stop requiring masks or enforcing social distancing in the workplace.
“Right now, organizations are considering different policies for employees who receive the vaccine and those who do not. 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,” said Elisabeth Joyce, vice president of advisory in Gartner’s HR practice, per a news release.