New findings from Gartner show that 90% of HR leaders will allow employees to work remotely, even following the release of a COVID-19 vaccine.
In addition, 65% of respondents reported that their organisation will continue to offer employees flexibility on when they work.
As discussions around the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine continue, Gartner's survey predicts that about 50% of the workforce will want to return to the workplace, at least part time, once a vaccine is made widely available.
Furthermore, 62% of the HR leaders surveyed reported that they are planning to continue all safety measures they have put in place once a COVID-19 vaccine is available.
Nearly one-third of respondents noted they would no longer require masks in the workplace nor enforce social distancing in high-traffic areas.
Several geographic regions are currently experiencing a COVID-19 resurgence, requiring employers to take action to maintain the health and safety of their workforce.
Among those surveyed, 46% said their organisation has already, or will, shut down offices that had previously been reopened; 37% reported extending new benefits to employees, such as childcare assistance and additional sick leave.
When a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, 60% of those surveyed said they will encourage employees to get vaccinated, but it will not be required.
In addition, 60% of respondents reported they will provide resources to employees on where and how to get vaccinated and 44% said they plan to cover or subsidise the costs of the vaccine for employees.
Gartner HR practice vice president of advisory Elisabeth Joyce says, “With a COVID-19 vaccine rollout approaching, HR leaders are now faced with an onslaught of questions, including if they can or should require employees to be vaccinated, what the employer's responsibility is in helping employees and their families get vaccinated, and how the release of vaccines impacts their return-to-the-workplace strategy.
Joyce says, "While there are concerns around the COVID-19 vaccine, including privacy and data security, ultimately, there are many factors involved in making decisions around an organisation's vaccination strategy, including local government regulations.
“Therefore, it is critical that HR leaders work closely with their legal and compliance partners.
She says, “Right now, organisations are considering different policies for employees who receive the vaccine and those who do not.
“What is most critical is that HR leaders are making these decisions with the expectation that they may need to course correct as we learn more.
Gartner has offered more suggestions and guidelines for leading a hybrid workforce through the disruption of COVID-19 in the Managing Remote and Onsite Workers resource hub, a collection of Gartner research and webinars.