Number of staff working remotely, part time up 415%: survey

Several weeks into the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. has seen a 415 per cent increase in the percentage of employees working remotely or part time, according to a new survey by WorldatWork.

The survey, which polled more than 1,500 total rewards and human resources professionals in the U.S., also found 37 per cent of organizations are providing full pay for employees unable to work due to illness or caregiving needs, while 47 per cent said they’ll apply an existing leave policy or benefit and 45 per cent said they’ll apply a new leave policy or benefit.

Among organizations making changes to their health-care plans, 60 per cent said they’re waiving co-payments and/or deductibles for employees. Other changes include implementing telemedicine (30 per cent), changing how prescriptions can be accessed (30 per cent) and creating/providing additional resources for at-risk populations (26 per cent).

Read: Employers using hiring, wage freezes to combat effects of coronavirus: survey

While two-thirds (65 per cent) of survey respondents said they don’t have plans for additional hazard pay for employees required to work onsite during the pandemic, workers in retail (46 per cent) and health care/pharmaceutical (29 per cent) are most likely to receive some form of hazard pay.

The survey also found about half (56 per cent) of organizations have already paid out, or are planning to pay out, salary increases, while 21 per cent are holding off.

Employers are also making changes to staff/operational hours by implementing a hiring freeze, except for critical roles (72 per cent), furloughs (39 per cent ) and layoffs (25 per cent).

In addition, 67 per cent of survey respondents said they’re sending out coronavirus-related communications daily or every few days. And 63 per cent of organizations expect to be back to normal operations by summer.

Read: Considerations for employers rehiring with help from federal wage subsidies

“Absolutely every finding in this survey has a volume of stories behind it,” said Scott Cawood, president and chief executive officer of WorldatWork, in a press release. “One of the biggest being the incredible hardship facing a large swath of the workforce. The pandemic hasn’t just disrupted work, it is a body blow to the health of people, organizations and nations.

“Perhaps a bit of silver lining is the quick responses by employers to adapt and change direction, and to effectively communicate these changes — many of which will likely stick long after this crisis subsides. And while most organizations anticipate being back to normal by summer, it’s clear that the future of work looks very different than it did in 2019.”