For many companies, the pandemic has tested the level of flexibility they offer their workforces. What we seem to have found is that employees mostly want to maintain the ability to work from home, at least to some degree. According to this article in Executive Grapevine, "In fact, research from Huma has revealed that more than half of workers do not want to return to the office. Similarly, data published by Cardiff University and the University of Southampton reported that nine of out 10 people who worked from home during the crisis want to continue doing so in future."
At the same time, there are others who are looking forward to face-to-face interaction again, and the chance to improve relationships, collaboration and innovation. So most companies are looking to find a new hybrid "sweet spot" that combines some of what we enjoyed about traditional work arrangements with the non-traditional remote work arrangements that we have been experimenting with due to the pandemic.
As companies consider exactly what that sweet spot will look like, what should mobility programs be thinking about? Nobody seems to be predicting that relocation or global assignments are going to go away. Developmental and intern programs will still be needed in this new hybrid world of work. While we spent some time reflecting on the emerging trends in talent mobility, this article reminds us of the value and potential of embracing "true flex" — but what does that look like within your global mobility program?
Well, it could look like considering a new way of delivering a whole new set of mobility benefits that empowers the employee to make their own choices, control the process and ultimately makes your mobile employees feel more cared for. The solution could also support the program in ridding itself of time-consuming and expensive exceptions. Is your mobility program ready for "true flex?" Consider how to let employees design their own relocations and create their own experiences. Develop ideas and then consider running user tests or a pilot group to get a sense for what could be awaiting your new (and improved) program.
Again, if your company anticipates it will be working differently moving forward and is looking to raise the "flex quotient" — whether getting all the way to "true flex" or not — spend a little time playing around with new ideas to elevate the experience, while investing the same or less from a cost perspective.
In Hamer’s view, achieving ‘true flex’ that is sustainable will take time as he pointed out “there is no quick fix”. However, there are changes that business leaders can implement to ensure flexibility becomes a true part of a company’s culture. “Effective changes to working arrangements are done in collaboration with your staff rather than imposed upon them,” he said. “It is critically important to listen to employees to understand the key drivers of flexible working and which roles will present the greatest challenge. A shared solution gains far greater traction than any top-down dictate.”