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Employers know employees want hybrid work arrangements, but will they offer them?

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San Francisco — Slightly more than 70% of employers expect their workers to want a hybrid model when their physical workplace reopens, but only 55% plan to offer that option, according to the results of a recent survey.

Littler Mendelson P.C., an employment and labor law firm that represents management, from March 17 to March 31 conducted an online survey of nearly 1,200 human resources professionals, in-house lawyers and C-suite executives from organizations of all sizes around the country. The survey explored employers’ post-COVID-19 pandemic concerns and how they’re responding to them, along with their plans for the next year.

More than a quarter (28%) of the respondents planned to have workers return to full-time in-person work post-pandemic. However, only 4% said they anticipate their employees will prefer that option.

After workers return to physical locations, 73% of the respondents said they’re at least somewhat concerned about workforce management issues related to having a split workforce, including scheduling challenges as well as ensuring hybrid and remote workers don’t get passed over for opportunities.

When it comes to inquiring about COVID-19 vaccination, 41% of the respondents planned to ask workers to voluntarily disclose their status, while 14% said they’ll ask the same of independent contractors. Just 9% indicated they would ask job applicants to volunteer that information.

The most common exposure mitigation efforts employers have already taken or are considering taking to help keep workers safe: having fewer employees onsite at a time (67%), redesigning the office layout (55%) and providing additional technology and/or reimbursement for home office expenses (41%).


Other findings:

  • 61% of the respondents said COVID-19 testing will continue to play an important role in reducing worker exposure.
  • 52% are at least “moderately concerned” about the pandemic’s impact on worker mental health and well-being.
  • In regard to COVID-19 enforcement and compliance, the respondents anticipate OSHA (26%) and state/local agencies (25%) will have the most significant impact on their workplace over the next 12 months.

“Employers are eager to bring their teams back together in person but are hearing from employees and applicants who value the option to work remotely and feel they have shown they can be productive while doing so,” Devjani Mishra, a leader of Littler’s COVID-19 task force and return-to-work team, said in a press release. “Addressing this tension raises a host of legal and practical considerations, including how to accommodate those who are concerned about coming to the office.”

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