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Flexible work will continue to be new normal in a post-Covid world

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The Economic Times
24th June, 2022 04:46 IST

Flexible work is here to stay in a post-pandemic world. Unlike earlier, however, it will no longer be a differentiator. Instead, flexible working options will be pervasive and increasingly expected by employees, according to a new survey.

Compared with 7% of employees who worked primarily remotely or a mix of onsite and offsite three years ago, the proportion is up to 54% currently. As many as 47% are expected to be in primarily remote-hybrid mode three years down the line, according to the India findings of the Willis Towers Watson Reimagining Work and Rewards survey that have been shared exclusively with ET.

Asked when they expect the pandemic to recede enough so that the organisation reaches its 'new normal' in terms of staff returning to the workplace and ending temporary pandemic-related policies and procedures, 54% said they were not there yet.

"Despite Covid being over two years old, the majority of organisations say they still haven't found a stable working model. Some companies have a good idea, but it largely continues to be an evolving reality. It's a point of concern for many organisations," said Rajul Mathur, consulting leader, India, work and rewards, Willis Towers Watson.

Talent attraction and retention remain challenges. About 78% of organisations say they are facing talent attraction challenges and 64% have talent retention issues in 2022, compared with 29% and 26%, respectively, in 2020.

Attracting or retaining talent with digital skills -artificial intelligence, cyber, user experience, analytics, among others - is the most commonly cited challenge, by as much as 85% of the surveyed organisations. Around three-fourths - 74% - are also facing difficulties with sales positions.

Companies are focusing on managing employee experience.

'Good for both Cos and Individuals'
Of those surveyed, 61% see the need to create a holistic employee experience while 58% view strengthening their work and rewards framework as critical over the next three years. Another 58% said that building a talent ecosystem encompassing alternative work models will be an important HR capability over the next three years. Fifty-one organisations employing a total 723,000 people responded to the India survey.

"People have realised that the whole hybrid-remote model has been good for both companies and individuals," said S Venkatesh, group president, HR, RPG Enterprises. "It gives employees tremendous flexibility. They get to avoid difficult commutes and pollution and they get more flexibility and time with family. They don't want to give it up."

At leadership levels, though, some amount of facetime is important. "It has to be a mix," he said.

Vedanta Group CHRO Madhu Srivastava said it's focusing on incorporating digital and demand for these skillsets has increased with talent retention across sectors becoming a challenge. "We give them meaty roles and keep them highly engaged," she said. "We already have a robust rewards programme. We are focusing more on that and on awarding and rewarding key talent."

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