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Securian Financial

Snapshot

June 2021 Edition

As COVID-19 infections in the U.S. decline and the numbers of vaccinated people steadily rise, companies are rushing to firm up return-to-office plans for millions of employees who've been working from home since March 2020.

A recent PwC survey found that both executives and employees don't want to give up the office entirely. Only 13 percent of senior leaders are willing to work completely remote for good. Yet only one in five executives say they want to return to a "normal" pre-pandemic office.1

It seems most companies are moving toward a hybrid workplace, where large numbers of employees rotate in and out of offices configured for shared spaces. However, offices still have a place in 2021: 87 percent of employees say they’re essential for collaborating and building long-term relationships.1

Pros and cons: Remote or hybrid schedules

There's little doubt working remotely during the pandemic turned out better than expected. In fact, Randstad's COVID-19 Surveillance Report revealed 78 percent of companies found remote work was more effective than initially thought.2

As more companies plan to reopen offices, leaders carefully weigh the pros and cons of three options: on location, remote only or a hybrid of the two. The biggest challenge is how to provide flexible work options and continue to run businesses profitably.

And according to BenefitsPRO, “Companies that wish to retain talented employees and attract new ones would certainly benefit from embracing the idea of a hybrid workforce rather than resisting it.”3

In one survey, 52 percent of employees said they preferred a hybrid model, where they're working remotely two or three days per week. One in four employees preferred working remotely full time.4

For those balancing parenting responsibilities, being home during the pandemic has been a lifesaver. However, some employees experienced burnout, anxiety and lack of focus working full time from home.2 And with the lack of social interaction, many are looking forward to being in the office – at least some of the time.3

Office reopening tips

It’s important to have a realistic sense of what employees might want, need and demand in terms of schedules, flexibility and benefits options.3 This can help companies navigate the future environment – that works for both the employee and the employer.3

Employee communication about office safety measures is critical, as well as providing the rationale for reopening. Conveying the benefits of a hybrid model can help too – provides flexibility, fosters relationships, builds trust and improves morale.5

Here are additional options companies can consider as they adjust to a post-pandemic way of working:3

  • Scheduling – Not every organization can adopt a permanent work-from-home policy, but remote work can still be an option once offices reopen
  • Office occupancy – Compressed workweeks and staggered schedules can help keep occupancy levels safe
  • Flextime – Offering employees the ability to work when it works best for them will likely be in high demand, and can lead to improved retention and productivity
  • Communication tools – Virtual conferencing is here to stay and adopting new tools can seamlessly meet the demands of a hybrid workforce
  • Skill sets – When hiring, identify candidates who can manage and collaborate with teams that don’t share the same space or work in a different time zone

 

To follow evolving workplace guidance and updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), visit COVID-19 Employer Information for Office Buildings.

“It’s time to reimagine where and how work will get done.” PwC’s US Remote Work Survey, January 12, 2021.

2. Henderson, Rebecca. “Return to Work 2021: What Will The Post-Pandemic Office Model Look Like?” Forbes, February 17, 2021.

3. Quarton, Amy. “Commentary: Be ready for these permanent changes in the workplace.” BenefitsPRO, April 15, 2021.

4. Miller, Stephen, CEBS. “As Offices Reopen, Hybrid Onsite and Remote Work Becomes Routine.” SHRM, April 9, 2021.

5. Smith, Allen, J.D. “Making the Case for Return to Office,” SHRM, March 29, 2021.

Insurance products are underwritten by Minnesota Life Insurance Company or Securian Life Insurance Company, a New York authorized insurer. Minnesota Life is not a New York authorized insurer and does not do insurance business in New York. Both companies are headquartered in St. Paul, MN. Product availability and features may vary by state. Each insurer is solely responsible for the financial obligations under the policies or contracts it issues.

Securian Financial is the marketing name for Securian Financial Group, Inc., and its subsidiaries. Minnesota Life Insurance Company and Securian Life Insurance Company are subsidiaries of Securian Financial Group, Inc.

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