Work from Home or Office? For Those With a Choice, It’s Not that Easy

Months after this pandemic, offices have opened up. Some work at the office, others from home. Even more people hover between two options and don’t know where to situate themselves. Reality seems to have made people feel like they’re caught in the middle of a bridge and thinking, if they should go cross the bridge or stay put.

Meanwhile, many companies in northern California have decided to have their employees work from home, providing their employees the resources they need with this new reality. If this pandemic happened in the 90s, how would companies make the adjustment? This “work from home” experiment caused by COVID-19 has certainly forced many organizations to rethink the “where” and “how” work gets done. 

More challenges confront global mobility professionals and human resources. They have to prioritize their employees’ well-being (and that is not easy), according to Relocate Magazine. Health and safety duty of care is now the top priority aside from keeping their businesses afloat.

It’s all about how well companies manage risks. After all, the prospect of further spikes in infection rates is a real and present danger. Can anyone commit to a wholesale return to work? 

If anyone has not noticed, the bigger a company is the more cautious they are. In a litigious world, companies know the loss of productivity doesn’t really matter compared to the risk of having employees come to work, which would put them at the far costlier and disconcerting risk of getting sick.

In an Aon’s Pulse survey of 1,889 international organizations, many are deferring or postponing domestic or international people mobility programs as a way to manage or reduce total rewards costs, ensuring those on the move have access to the right occupational health, well-being support and information.

Relocate Magazine suggests safeguards for employees and their families: 

  • Support employees’ well-being from a practical, physical and emotional standpoint
  • Ensure globally mobile people are well briefed and compliant from a visa, taxation and healthcare insurance perspective
  • Care for the “silent” population, those families remaining at home or going on assignment

Beyond the human aspect of managing the future, Mercer’s 2020 Global Talent Trends Survey reported that more than half of HR departments (58 percent) are using the current situation to redesign their processes to become more people-centric. Redesigning work systems is critical, as a COVID-19 world has rewritten the rules of living and working.

Employers need to ask themselves what can be done differently, whether it’s about offering different health and insurance plans for their employees to how the work procedures will need to be revamped for the new world order. Mobility teams will also need to re-evaluate their policies to accommodate new work structures.

The increased use of remote work also presents another population of globally dispersed employees that talent mobility teams may have to help manage.

With the ability to work remotely also means that employees could be working anywhere in the world without HR or managers knowing. Topia considers this potentially massive compliance and financial risks.