Having made changes in plan management and participant communications because of the COVID-19 outbreak, many defined contribution executives say they plan to retain some of those strategies in a post-pandemic environment, Pensions & Investments reported in a survey released Thursday.
Ninety-four percent of respondents said they are likely to continue greater use of virtual technology for external meetings and 80% said they are likely to increase their use of virtual technology for internal meetings.
The results were unveiled during the 2021 DC Spring Virtual Series, held from March 8 through March 11, a pandemic-inspired pivot from P&I's Defined Contribution East Coast Conference, traditionally held each spring in Florida.
The pandemic has caused "a profound change" in how employers view traditional work settings, said Chris Battaglia, vice president and group publisher of Pensions & Investments, during a video conference describing the survey's results. Greater use of virtual technology and more remote work "are here to stay."
The post-pandemic DC world also will feature more flexibility in how, when and where people work.
The survey said 75% of respondents "expect the adoption of a work-from-anywhere approach," allowing for "alternative work arrangements." Seventy-six percent expect to have more flexible schedules and work hours, said the survey of 102 asset owners, primarily top executives and senior human resources officials, as well as benefits and retirement officials.
For now, 71% said they work exclusively from home, 20% split work time between home and office, and 9% work at their offices.
However, the survey results show "it's clear that companies and employees are uncertain about returning" to the pre-pandemic work environment, said Mr. Battaglia, who also is chief executive officer of the WorldPensionSummit.
Future formal return-to-work plans are varied, the survey said. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they don't expect to return to a traditional work environment on a full-time basis. Sixteen percent said they expect to return to the office full-time during the second quarter of 2021, and another 36% said they would do so by the third quarter.
Among the others, responses were evenly divided among those who plan to return to the office full time during the fourth quarter of 2021 and those who expect to return in the first quarter of 2022.
The survey noted that DC plan executives' return-to-work plans don't always match what all workers in their companies or organizations will do. Forty-five percent of respondents said their scheduled return to the office was the same as that of all workers, but 23% said it wasn't. Thirty-two percent said they did not know other workers' schedule for full-time office-based work.