The last year has led to a number of what I call “COVID Epiphanies” by employees and employers. One of the main concerns I’ve heard was what the impact COVID would have to corporate culture going forward and how much more in control of their destiny employees will become.
We have never seen such a disruption to the workforce in the tech era, and it appears many employees have had profound enlightenment about their own work style and corporate position. One of the main implications COVID will have on many enterprises is empowerment to the employee themselves over how and where they work. We have run several research studies at our firm and have concluded the hybrid workplace is the new normal. I recently found another study that found similar results, stating 68% of employees surveyed want the option to work from home and the office—confirming that employees want the choice to be in office or remote. Similarly, in our own research study from November, 31% of respondents wanted to continue to work from home a couple of days a week, and 46% wanted to continue to work from home as much as possible. The reality of the new enterprise is giving employees the flexibility of being remote or in person.
The challenge is this will cause turbulence for many companies, and the result will be a higher degree of talent churn, which goes back to one of the COVID epiphanies I mentioned that employees are contemplating their workplace with a much higher level of scrutiny. For many, they now realize their work-life balance is out of whack and seek to rebalance their lives. Particularly as COVID has brought many to appreciate how fragile life is and can be and therefore prioritize their own life and family. This is a good development in my opinion. Others have the epiphany that they do not like their corporate culture, or their managers, or their location and are contemplating how to put themselves in a better situation for life and career ambitions.
Ultimately, what this will lead to is corporations having to adapt to provide their employees with the flexibility they desire, or they risk losing the talent to another company. Talent acquisition and retention is going to become even more of a challenge in the post-pandemic world, and the result could have a dramatic impact on a companies ability to compete.
One of the interesting wrinkles from our research and others has been the difference in sentiment between young employees and older ones who are more set in their career and life stage. Younger employees are continually looking for upward mobility, and in-office networking interactions are often the things that help them find upward opportunities. This is obviously much more difficult in a fully remote environment. Even in a hybrid situation, figuring out how rising stars in an organization can get the right interactions with managers and execs will be important if they are to retain younger talent.
Quite literally, we are going to see a hotbed of opportunity as employees look to be more in control of their destiny, and software and services companies look to provide enterprises with what they need to retain talent and adapt in this new world. Enterprises and the tools we use to get work done still have a long way to go to provide employees with the flexibility they desire.