Home Office: Major challenges for companies due to Covid-19

02 April 2020  

Switzerland, Zurich


Companies around the world are reacting to the exceptional situation caused by Covid-19: 66 percent of employers have already introduced some form of mandatory home office, and more than a third even have global guidelines for all employees in place. At the same time however, over 80 percent of companies are concerned that productivity will suffer due to remote work. These are the results of a current live survey by the international consulting firm Mercer, with more than 1,600 respondents from companies around the world since March 18, 2020.




78 percent of those surveyed said that their staff had not or hardly worked from home (less than 25 percent) before the Covid-19 pandemic. In many cases, therefore, companies are not really prepared, technically and organizationally, for far-reaching home office measures: Only 36 percent of companies say that their employees are equipped with laptops as a standard. Alternative approaches being pursued in the face of the current crisis include distributing laptops to employees who usually work from a desktop PC in the office (35 percent), using private computers (25 percent), temporarily relocating IT equipment from the office to employees’ home offices (23 percent) and purchasing new laptops for the workforce (15 percent).


Another recent survey of 1,000 employees in Switzerland conducted by the strategy consultancy Oliver Wyman shows that 60 percent of those surveyed would not be able to do their work from home, or only partially. Almost half of those who could work from home find the existing infrastructure worthy of improvement, if not inadequate.


"The lack of infrastructure is an oversight, especially since most of the work that home offices are most suited for is done on the computer," says Nordal Cavadini, partner and digital expert at Oliver Wyman. An industry comparison shows that in the professional services industry (85 percent), information technology (76 percent), and in the finance and insurance industry (51 percent), work from home could become very common.


Leadership and virtual teams


In addition to infrastructure, the effective management of virtual teams is becoming significantly more important in the current situation. According to the Mercer survey, 40 percent of companies are developing additional tools for managers, such as checklists, templates and best practice guides. 31 percent are increasingly using existing trainings for virtual teams, while 22 percent are forming internal cohorts where practices and recommendations are shared. Nevertheless, almost a quarter of respondents are very concerned that productivity suffers significantly from remote working.


"Covid-19 has forced companies around the world, and Switzerland in particular, into the future of work. Our survey shows that not everyone was equally prepared to implement remote and flexible working for their employees, enabling them to work from home and at flexible times," says Stephan Pieronczyk, Partner and HR expert at Mercer Switzerland. "Companies must act now to avoid efficiency losses in virtual collaboration. The focus here is on better networking of employees, including through technology solutions, and coaching of their managers so that they can manage and motivate their teams in an efficient way. At the same time, the mental health and well-being of employees play an important role, and here too, better networking can make a big difference. Employee assistance programs could also become more important.”


About Mercer

Mercer believes in building brighter futures by redefining the world of work, reshaping retirement and investment outcomes, and unlocking real health and well-being. Mercer’s more than 25,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a business of Marsh & McLennan (NYSE: MMC), the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people, with 76,000 colleagues and annual revenue of $17 billion. Through its market-leading businesses including Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit www.mercer.ch. Follow Mercer on Twitter @MercerSwiss.


About Oliver Wyman
Oliver Wyman is a leading international strategy consulting firm with over 5,000 employees in 60 offices and 29 countries. We combine strong industry expertise with methodological competence in digitization, strategy development, risk management, operations, and transformation. We create added value for our clients that exceeds their investments many times over. We are a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC). Our financial strength is the basis for stability, growth and innovation. You can find further information at www.oliverwyman.ch