A number of major employers of white-collar workers are designing return-to-work plans – with a mix of in-person and virtual work being considered as permanent, or the “new normal.”
Citigroup has plans to designate the majority of workers as hybrid, with an expectation that they would work at least three days in the office. Ford recently stated that 30,000 of its North American office workers would be allowed to work under a flexible hybrid model. Under this format, they would be on-site for certain meetings or projects and stay home for independent work.
For many companies, this work-style is new and full of uncertainties. A permanent move to a remote and/or hybrid work style brings a host of questions: How can remote workers feel like full participants? What technologies should be provided to remote workers? What are the logistics of a shifting work-force population at an on-site location? Predictions of abandoned commercial real estate and the potential for geographic freedom for workers are expected to have far reaching effects on the real estate markets and social environment.
“The number one question I’m getting from companies is how do we do hybrid workforce planning,” said Tsedal Neeley, a professor at Harvard Business School. “They have to do their planning on what that post-pandemic future will look like. It’s the hope, it’s the optimism, based on the fact that many people have been vaccinated.”
Concerns about the need for a new management style to match the hybrid work situation led Lockheed Martin to provide extra training for its managers.
“This is a new world, and you have to accept it as such,” said Greg Karol, Lockheed Martin’s chief human resources officer. “We were a company with only 3 percent full-time telecommuters a year ago. You move to this new phase, I don’t expect them to be experts.”.