Over a quarter of C-suites say their hybrid work model won’t be ready until 2022

One of the key trends of the post-Covid work arena is that firms have realised they will have to adopt, and adapt to, a new hybrid model of working, but West Monroe’s latest Quarterly executive poll has found that 150 C-level executives at companies with over $250m in revenue are not yet prepared for the post-pandemic hybrid work reality.

As well as a lack of preparedness, the survey found that among senior management, there were worries about not only a talent crisis, but also employees expressing concern about the way they would carry on working.

The survey revealed that nearly half (45%) of senior managers said their top priority when designing a new work model was employee wants and needs. This was well above a desire to satisfy customer/clients wants and needs (25%). But as of now, only 19% have established norms and policies for their new working model – whether that be remote working, in-person or the new hybrid model. The majority (48%) plan to have it ready by the summer, but 26% don’t think they will have it until the end of 2021. 

A top request (73%) that C-suite audiences were receiving from employees was a request for permanent working from home or remote arrangements. But just over two-thirds (68%) of respondents said clarity/certainty on timing for the post-pandemic working model was the top request they were receiving from workers right now.

The report also revealed that 56% of firms were responding to changing customer expectations by implementing new customer interfaces and technologies. This was followed by installing new communication methods (cited by 46%) and new delivery models (43%). Just over two-fifths (41%) said they had adapted their workforce.

As for what they perceived as the leading challenges and priorities in designing new hybrid work models, respondents said building/keeping a company culture was the key issue, indicated by 60%. Meeting employee wants and needs was a priority for 45%, while deciding when to start phasing in the hybrid work model was cited by 42%.

Other key personnel-related matters highlighted by the research included the finding that three-fifths of firms expected to hire more people in the second quarter of 2021, while one-third expect little to no change. Despite nearly three million women dropping out of the workforce in 2020 because of Covid, nearly a quarter (23%) of execs said they were not taking action on the decline of the female workforce (due to the pandemic) at their company.

This was even though the C-suite audience knew that the risk of burnout at their firms was high. As many as 63% said this was the biggest challenge they were facing right now, followed by remote onboarding (48%) and attracting/hiring the right talent (38%). A quarter (25%) said that the Covid-19 vaccine uptake rate among their employee population would determine when they return for on-site work, but half of the executives were still unsure how they would track that.