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Press Release

Dutch businesses say working from home is here to stay, but expect some limited offshoring of jobs

Many firms are poorly prepared for the shift to flexible working, and need a greater focus on employee experience, benefits, and rewards

Future of Work|Talent|Total Rewards|Bienestar integral
COVID 19 Coronavirus

January 25, 2021

Dutch businesses are poorly prepared for the shift to flexible working.

AMSTELVEEN, januari 25, 2021 - Businesses in the Netherlands predict that in three years’ time a quarter of their staff (25%) will still be working from home, which is a fall from the current pandemic-driven level of 38%, according to research by Willis Towers Watson, a leading global advisory, broking, and solutions company.

The survey shows that, although some workers will head back to the office once it is safer to do so, remote working, which was used by just 8% of Dutch staff three years ago, is seen as a long-term strategic change.

“The sudden boom in home working will recede a little, but it will still be a permanent change, with many benefits for businesses and their staff,” said Antoinette Lefevre-Stevens, Benelux Talent & Rewards Leader, Willis Towers Watson, adding: “Businesses see that, in a world beyond Covid, flexible working arrangements can boost productivity, attract talent, and support diversity. The challenge for businesses now is to rethink how work is designed and rewarded so they can improve performance, and control costs and risks.”

Many staff have been concerned that employers will pay them according to where they live - a move which some major global companies are reported to be considering. Others have been worried that remote working will mean that jobs are offshored to other countries.

The survey found that Dutch firms are thinking of making some limited transfer of jobs to other countries. On average, firms expect that 10% of jobs currently being done through flexible working arrangements will be offshored to other countries over the next three years. Much depends on the employer, as one in five companies (20%) say they will not relocate any such jobs.

Eight out of ten (82%) of employers will pay remote workers the same as in-office employees next year, regardless of their location. Only 3% said they would pay according to the city or area where any remote worker is based. 41% say that they are not concerned where work gets done.

Despite the high levels of remote working anticipated in the future, many Dutch firms are unprepared. Only 17% said their current job architecture fully supports a flexible and agile workforce, while 37% said it did not support it at all. Almost half (46%) of employers still do not have a formal policy to manage flexible working arrangements.

Antoinette Lefevre-Stevens said: “Covid turbo-charged an existing trend towards flexible working, and now employers need to catch up. It’s incredible that almost half of Dutch businesses we spoke to have no formal policy about flexible working. The ways work is structured, how and where it gets done, and how pay is managed are all still based on people working in an office within geographically-organised teams. That needs to change if a business is to prosper.

“Employers now need to take a step back and examine the future state of their organisation and decide how they can make the most of their new agile workforce. Many firms are looking at how they should now mix pay and rewards, and how they can best motivate and engage their people.

“Companies who haven’t done so should review their HR policies for a more flexible world. It is also important to evaluate work architecture and think about skills to better reflect how work is organised. The long-term goals for a successful business are to support workforce agility and digital transformation.”

About the Survey

A total of 41 employers in The Netherlands participated in the Flexible Work and Rewards Survey, which was conducted in September and October 2020. Those respondents employ around 180,000 workers.

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