Workplace culture has improved since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and employers are planning to make moderate to extensive changes in order to allow more hybrid working, says a survey.
According to the EY Work Reimagined Employer Survey 2021, 73 per cent of employer respondents believe that workplace culture has improved since the onset of the pandemic.
The survey covered more than 1,000 business leaders across nine countries and 25 industry sectors, examining their views on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the workplace.
It included over 100 employers from India and explored their perspectives on the risks and opportunities of hybrid working.
The findings showed that 61 per cent of employers are planning to make moderate to extensive changes in order to allow more hybrid working, reflecting the views of 90 per cent of employees, who said they want flexibility in when and where they work.
"Employers have heard loud and clear that employees are demanding flexibility in the post-pandemic working world. The biggest danger facing most employers is that they fail to provide clarity around their hybrid work and return to office plans," Anurag Malik, Partner, People Advisory Services, EY India, said.
Malik further noted that organisations that want to flourish need to ensure that their plans are well defined and communicated, and that they balance business and employee priorities in refining these plans to help create a win-win for the business and the workforce.
The study further noted that despite the overwhelming recognition of the importance of flexible working, 39 per cent of employer respondents want all their employees to return to the office full time post-pandemic.
On issues relating to business travel, there was a notable disconnect where 63 per cent of employer respondents say that they want to decrease business travel post-pandemic, but 90 per cent of employee respondents say they want it to resume.
On other key issues such as productivity, employees and employers were in agreement, where 83 per cent of employer respondents believe productivity can now be measured from anywhere, compared to 85 per cent of employee respondents.
Employers who took part in the survey were also asked about risks beyond physical health that may come with the shift toward hybrid working. Almost half (53 per cent) said that one of the biggest risks will be their ability to establish fairness and equity among employees when some jobs require a fixed schedule or location creating a have and have not' dynamic based on roles.
Around 50 per cent said a key concern is how to retain talent and offer flexibility and developing next generation talent.
"Various complex risks make it harder for employers to define their back to office plans for a diverse workforce and leave many exposed to the possibility that employees will move to companies where flexibility is clearly implemented," Malik added.