70% of companies have not decided when to return to the office, research shows – 06/09/2021 – Market

Home office fatigue promises to last longer than imagined. With the escalation of the pandemic and slow vaccinations, the date for returning to the offices is increasingly uncertain, and human resources managers of large companies maintain the posture of returning only when the scenario is more comfortable.

According to a survey carried out by Dimep, a product company for access control and time recording, the post-pandemic scenario shows that there is still little return planning and indicates a hybrid work model. In a survey of 104 companies from different segments and sizes that have adopted telework, 36.5% have not yet mapped out a strategy, 33.7% say they will return to their normal routine, but without an established date, and 18.3% will continue with the remote work.

The survey also found that only 6.7% of companies had a home office program, and the percentage should reach 22% in a post-pandemic scenario.

Among the main problems encountered in adapting to the home office, 30.8% responded that managing the hours worked was the biggest challenge, 25% complained about the lack of an adequate structure to carry out the work and 19.2% complained about the communication between teams.

Shirlei Lima, product manager at Dimep, says that the problems mentioned, apart from the infrastructure issue, are reflections of a model based on hours worked, and not on delivery. This has led companies to establish better communication between employers and employees in recent months, says the researcher.

“Companies that are working looking at the result, that manage to engage with employees and value communication, will feel more secure for the return”, he says. The researcher also claims that those who had an eye on technology and the home office on the radar found it easy to adapt and also have chances of having a good return in the post-pandemic period.

It is still difficult to estimate a definitive date for the return, and it all depends on the timing of the pandemic. The companies approached by the report claim that they encourage vaccination and have created content on the subject, but it is up to the employee whether to vaccinate or not.

GSK Consumer Healthcare reopened the office in March of this year, and each employee has determined at what time they feel comfortable returning. Those who use public transport are not authorized, and it is necessary to make an appointment to use the space. The site only allows 60% occupancy, which is scheduled with the manager of each area, says Andressa Tomasulo, senior manager of HR at GSK Consumer Healthcare.

“We understand that vaccination is very important to return more safely, and it is an individual action, it is up to the employee,” he says.

FICO, the predictive analytics software company, already had a work flexibility policy before the pandemic, and is already talking about going back to the office, says Kayla Vallim, senior director of operations. The company has no set date, but it knows what to do when social isolation ends.

“We carried out a global survey, and employees chose to work up to three days or more in the offices”, says the director. “We saw that working on communication and empathy was essential for the period, we understand the problems and demands of employees, and we will only return when it is a safe environment for everyone”.

DSM, a Dutch company that works with science for nutrition and health, has well-defined goals for the return, but also does not know when it will happen. “One of the assumptions we always had is that we will only return with the certainty of minimum employee safety”, says Renata Medeiros, human resources director

For the administrative areas the work will be 60% in person and 40% remote. Of 2,200 employees in Latin America, 45% will work in the hybrid scheme. The days of remote and in-person work will be defined with the heads of each team. On Fridays, the “short friday” will be implemented, when the administrative team will be released at 14:00.

Camargo Corrêa Infra, a company in the construction sector, was one of the companies that was taken by surprise and had to rush to adapt to the new management model. Over the months, they realized that the work routine changed abruptly, and decided to focus on delivery, looking less at the workday, says Francisco Fay, the company’s people director.

A new office is planned for the end of the year, with a different face from the pre-pandemic model. “It will be a space for meetings and for collaborative work, while the employee will be able to carry out routine tasks at home”, he says. The idea is that the trip to the office is made up to three days a week.

Oliver Kamakura, partner in people management consulting at EY Brasil, recalls that the hybrid model is not palliative, it is a way of planning the workforce. “The discussion is not about replacing one another, it is about adjusting models”, he says.

As much as it seems a great solution for the new reality, the model can generate noise for both sides, both for workers and for management. “Will working from somewhere other than the office be evaluated in the same way? How do I rate my employee now? These are questions that may lie ahead”, says Kamakura.

Along with the flexibility of work, alternative forms of hiring will also emerge. “There will be more temporary jobs, with people hired for a specific project, no matter where it is,” says Kamakura. Companies should also look at reviewing benefits, as they are anchored in physical displacement. “The next steps will have to be clearly articulated, without communication it will make it even more difficult to resume”, he says.

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