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New research from Universum and INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute examines hybrid and virtual work plans across globe

By Universum on 15/03/2022

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN, Tuesday, 15th March.   A new global study from Universum and INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute (INSEAD EMI) investigates the question facing employers all over the globe: What is the right mix of in-person and virtual work in a post-COVID era? Specifically, the research looks at differences by region, generations and gender. The findings, published in a report called The (Uncertain) Future of Work, show that while most employers agree hybrid work is likely the best way forward, there are still pockets of disagreement that global employers with regional talent markets should pay attention to. For example: For example: 36% of employers in the APAC region favor majority in-office working, versus 10% for the Americas.

“The research shows employers must pay close attention to demographic and regional differences when making decisions about hybrid and virtual work,” says Richard Mosley, global vice president of strategy for Universum. “What may be overwhelmingly true in one country is decidedly less so in another, and there is even more variability when looking at generational and gender differences. These findings are important because companies may find certain employee cohorts gravitate to specific choices (for example, women may choose to work virtually more often), and companies have not fully worked out the effects of these different choices.”

Universum, the global leader in employer branding, surveyed over 650 human resources and talent management leaders from 50 countries from December 2021 to January 2022. The research analyzes how hybrid and virtual working affects a wide range of talent issues – from diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), to work satisfaction and employee engagement. “As we prepare for the post-Covid or Covid-normal workplace of the future, it is becoming clear that one size does not fit all in terms of best practices towards hybrid work. A nuanced approach that takes into account differences based on geography, industry, size, technological preparedness and DEI parameters such as gender and age, will be essential,” according to Dr Vinika D. Rao, Executive director of INSEAD EMI.

Among other noteworthy findings from the research:

  • Most companies have updated their EVPs to reflect new virtual work options. Fully 38% of employers have updated their EVP to reflect virtual/flexible working, and an additional 25% are considering doing so.
  • Employers that prefer in-office work are concerned about productivity: Companies that limit working from home tend to be motivated by “productivity” as a key driver, while those that support working from home prioritize work-life balance for their employees. A focus on company-centric metrics like productivity may prove perilous in a talent market so heavily weighted to employees.
  • More than 2 in 3 talent leaders worry hybrid work would have a detrimental effect on organizational culture. And 83% say they are concerned about their employees missing out on social connections with co-workers when working from home.
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is not currently top of mind when employers weigh whether or not to allow virtual/hybrid work – but it should be. Just 23% of employers surveyed say DEI is a factor in their decision making. Mark Mortensen, associate professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD, says companies must actively consider how working from home affects DEI efforts. He explains, “Hybrid working is inextricably tied to power — it creates power differentials within teams that can damage relationships, impede effective collaboration, and ultimately reduce performance. Employers should be thinking about how they will measure performance across all these dynamics over time, with an eye toward minimizing unforeseen, negative impacts.”

To download a copy of the full report, which includes additional research about topics such as decision making about virtual working by region, visit www.universumglobal.com/library/future-of-work-ebook.

About Universum
Universum is a data-driven, insight-led employer branding agency. Founded in Stockholm, we are now active in over 60 countries, with key hubs in Paris, Berlin, London, New York, Singapore and Shanghai. Universum provides clients with the research, strategy, and creative solutions they need to compete more effectively for talent.

About INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute
The INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute (EMI) is a world class think-tank for the creation and dissemination of credible and timely information on issues related to business management, economic development and social progress in the emerging economies. This includes the development of cutting-edge pedagogical materials, research publications and data sets.