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Press Release

The future is hybrid as employers plan for post-pandemic working patterns

Health and Benefits|Talent|Future of Work
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August 23, 2021

Hybrid looks set to be the working model of the future, with only three-in-ten employers expecting to have their workforce fully back onsite in two years’ time.

LONDON – August 23, 2021 – Hybrid looks set to be the working model of the future, with only three-in-ten employers expecting to have their workforce fully back onsite in two years’ time, according to a study by Willis Towers Watson.

While the vast majority (85%) of businesses anticipate a return to the workplace for most employees who want to by the end of 2021, employers do not anticipate a return to pre-pandemic working practices. Employers think about a quarter of the workforce (23%) will work remotely on a full-time basis in two years’ time, and almost half (41%) will embrace hybrid working.

Hybrid working is here to stay”

Lucie McGrath
Director, Health and Benefits, GB

Lucie McGrath, Director, Health and Benefits GB, Willis Towers Watson, said: “While some uncertainty remains about exactly what the journey towards the “new normal” looks like, one thing’s for sure: hybrid working is here to stay. We’ve all weathered a huge amount of change over the last two years. Employers should think carefully about how to support their employees’ mental health as we adjust to the new working world.”

Employers reluctant to seem pushy about the vaccine

One in five employers have encouraged employees to get vaccinated through communications campaigns, with another 18% considering this approach.

However, most employers have not gone so far as to incentivise people to get vaccinated. One in seven are giving people time off or cash as a thank you for getting vaccinated, but they seem likely to remain in the minority. The majority of employers (60%) are not planning to use incentives.

None of the organisations surveyed currently ask their employees to get vaccinated in order to return to the workplace. Two in three companies have no intention of doing so. A mere 12% are considering requiring employees to get vaccinated before they can return to the workplace.

Some uncertainty remains

Businesses are unsure when they will drop social distancing and safety protocols at work. Understandably, two in three employers are still uncertain of their plans in this respect.

McGrath concluded: “Uncertainty in this unprecedented time is very normal. However, while uncertainty is unavoidable as businesses take tentative steps back towards the workplace, it can also feel unsettling for employees. People who have worked from home for the last two years may find it tiring to spend more time in their workplaces. Equally, there are lots of upsides. The new hybrid world could give employees the chance to have the best of both worlds. They can tackle projects which require deep focus at home and come into the workplace to collaborate and create, achieving a better work/life balance in the process. As ever, the key to success will be in getting the details right. We expect this to be an iterative process for employers, and it will be important to listen to employees throughout.”

About the Survey

Willis Towers Watson surveyed senior employee benefits professionals at 121 UK companies in May and June 2021.

About Willis Towers Watson Health & Benefits

Willis Towers Watson’s Health & Benefits team helps clients to cut the cost of employee illness, minimise levels of sickness absence and retain good staff. It offers employee benefits packages, healthcare insurances, employee assistance and stress management programmes, health screening and absence management initiatives.

The company also helps employers reduce the frequency and cost of claims made on healthcare or income protection policies through its specialist nurse-led claims management team. By giving employees expert support during an absence, the company is consistently successful in returning staff to work quicker.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has 45,000 employees serving more than 140 countries and markets. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas – the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential.

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