3 minute read 5 Nov 2020
Business persons on a conference following social distancing guidelines

How employers and employees are envisioning the reimagined workplace

By Liz Fealy

EY Global and EY Americas PAS Solutions Leader, EY Global PAS Workforce Advisory Leader

Passionate about solving clients’ organization and people issues through innovative Future of Work Solutions and leveraging EY’s proprietary digital accelerators. Employment and labor attorney.

Contributors
3 minute read 5 Nov 2020

As lockdowns are lifting, organizations are beginning to imagine new methods of working, collaboration and effective leadership.

Three questions to ask 
  • What digital workplace tools are critical to an organization’s future work experience?
  • What areas are employers and employees not aligned?
  • How are business leaders putting humans at the center of long-term plans for value creation?

As lockdowns are lifting in many regions of the world, millions of employees deemed essential continue to work as usual while other segments are returning to the physical workplace for the first time after several months of either working from home or being furloughed. Many companies have extended flexible working with regard to when and where employees work in order to maintain social distancing in workplaces as well as to provide alternatives given that not all schools and childcare have opened. Companies also realize that now that many employees have experienced reduced commuting times and have maintained productivity, some prefer to continue working remotely. This has necessitated completely new methods of working, collaboration and effective leadership. It’s been a massive challenge for employers and a big shift for employees.

The EY team surveyed over 4,000 employers and employees in June and July 2020 to see how these impacts are affecting the rollout of the future of work. The survey results showed strong alignments between the experiences and priorities of companies and their workforces, but also some key disconnects.

Covid 19 extensive impact graphic

Both employees (84%) and employers (79%) identify the adoption of digital workplace tools as critical to the future work experience. They also agree that health and safety in the workplace are new priorities: employees rank this as a top five concern, and 86% of employers plan to enhance workplace safety. Employees rank online or virtual learning as their top learning and development focus, and almost two-thirds (64%) of employers are looking to strengthen virtual learning.

However, the survey responses reveal that employers and employees are not aligned in all areas. Perhaps predictably, while almost 4 in 10 (38%) employees want to see bonuses for improved work efforts, 77% of employers think there will be moderate to extensive reductions to workplace costs. In business travel, employers see yet another opportunity to cut costs, with 74% planning to limit most types of company travel, while 76% of employees would like to continue traveling for business.

  Employees Employers
Areas of alignment

84% of employees are looking for better digital tools

Top 5 concern for all countries and generations is physical health

#1 ranked L&D focus is employees want employers to enhance online/virtual learning approaches

79% of employers are looking to extensively/moderately change digital workforce tools

86% of employers plan to make extensive/moderate changes to workplace safety

64% of employers are looking to enhance online/virtual learning approaches
 

Areas of disconnect

38% of employees want updated pay/bonus plans for enhanced work efforts

76% of employees would like to continue some form of business travel

77% of employers believe there will be extensive/moderate change to workforce costs

74% of employers believe there will be extensive/moderate change to business travel with reductions across most types of travel

Amid the data analysis, one finding stands out as a potential red flag to employers that they should not ignore. While 9 in 10 employers say they put humans at the center of long-term plans for value creation, fewer than 7 in 10 (69%) of employees believe them. The EY team has emphasized that the future of work, while enabled by transformative digital tools, must put humans at the center, including well-being, diversity and culture. Employers need to not only put talent at the core of their strategy but also to demonstrate that commitment to their workforce with authenticity — and reimagine what the new workplace will look like for their organization.

Summary

COVID-19 has impacted the global workforce extensively, and as organizations slowly begin to return to a physical workplace, there are notable differences in priorities between employers and employees. Importantly, employers must put employee well-being, diversity and culture at the center of a reimagined workplace.

About this article

By Liz Fealy

EY Global and EY Americas PAS Solutions Leader, EY Global PAS Workforce Advisory Leader

Passionate about solving clients’ organization and people issues through innovative Future of Work Solutions and leveraging EY’s proprietary digital accelerators. Employment and labor attorney.

Contributors