(CNN) — The pandemic has taught employers a lot about the value of having flexible work arrangements for employees.
So much so that 83% now say that, even after today’s crisis has passed, they plan to put more flexible work policies in place, such as allowing more people to work from home or letting them adjust their schedules.
That’s according to a recent survey of nearly 800 employers by Mercer, an HR and workplace benefits consulting firm.
Working from home has often been viewed skeptically by managers and executives, who assumed it would result in less work getting done if they weren’t there to oversee it. But a full 94% of employers surveyed said their company productivity was actually the same (67%) or higher (27%) than it was before the pandemic, even though so many of their employees have been working remotely this year.
Looking ahead, 73% said they expect a quarter or more of their workforce to continue working remotely post-pandemic. And one in three expect half or more of their employees to do so. That’s a huge switch from pre-pandemic days, when only one in 30 employers allowed for that.
But flexibility isn’t just about the home office vs. the company office. It’s also about when work gets done. Here again, a large majority (72%) say they will implement more flexibility in terms of hours — such as flexible scheduling and compressed workweeks (e.g., working 10 hours a day for four days a week).
For parents of young kids, this will be especially important. During the pandemic, 60% of employers said they’re letting parents adjust their schedules, with 22% saying they’re letting parents temporarily shift to part-time status if needed.
Meanwhile, another 37% are letting parents choose when they do those parts of their job that don’t need to be done at a particular time or place, in order to better accommodate their caregiving responsibilities during the day.
“For example, some [people] may have to interact with customers or colleagues during set times, but may perform other parts of their role (analysis, stocking, prep, etc.) at another time,” said Mercer principal Lauren Mason.
The companies surveyed also noted some obstacles and concerns in implementing a more flexible workplace. The biggest were resistance from leaders and managers and/or a lack of skills on their part to manage a flexible workforce, and concerns about maintaining the existing workplace culture.
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