Three key lessons organizations learned while we worked from home

May 03, 2021

2020 taught us a lot of things. We learned how quickly we could adapt to new circumstances when there is no other choice. Some of us learned a lot more about multitasking and working from home. Others of us learned a new skill or picked up a new hobby.

But what lessons did organizations take away from 2020 while their employees worked from home? Recently we sat down with Christina Boiler, Mercer’s U.S. leader for global mobility, and asked her this question.

“In my opinion, there are 3 key lessons:

First, employees and employers have seen that flexible working can be productive. Prior to the pandemic, many leaders believed that their organization’s culture and productivity were dependent upon the interactions that teams had in the office. Our shared experience during the pandemic has shown that this perception is not entirely correct — while in-person collaboration is and will be important going forward, productivity can happen virtually.

Second, while greater flexibility will be the norm going forward for many organizations, both employees and employers seek a return to the office. There are several reasons for this:

(a) It’s well recognized that relationship building, networking, learning, and innovation are all enhanced face-to-face.

(b) Some employees find that their personal productivity may increase in an office environment, given the quiet and secure space, access to IT resources, and other benefits.

(c) Human interaction is vital to our personal well-being and the social structure of work can be a critical factor in our mental health.

Third, there is a not a one-size-fits-all approach that will work for each organization. Organizations need to consider multiple factors when developing their flexible strategy. They should start with an objective assessment of the work itself and how flexibility impacts outcomes like productivity, customer satisfaction, and innovation across different jobs in the organization. Once this objective foundation is in place, they can then shape the context of what’s possible and desirable for their organization and culture, balancing leader and employee views, to define their future state flexibility model. And then they can examine how to sustain the change through foundational enablers like policy and communication and how to assess the impact to infrastructure and people programs.”

Looking for more information?

Are you wondering how to make flexibility a permanent part of your value proposition as an employer? We are excited to offer the first edition of our Flexible Working Policies and Practices Survey, which will provide valuable insights, including determining eligibility, benefits offerings, and tax implications, among other things.