Professionals in Canada have gone from the shock of life in lockdown, to weeks of working from kitchen tables and makeshift offices. But now, many are turning their attention to the impending move back to their workplaces, and what the new normal will look like. Robert Half surveyed 500 professionals in Canada to find out more about their current situation, concerns for the future at work, and what they see changing the most. 

“COVID-19 has impacted so many aspects of our daily lives — and when buildings reopen, the office environments we return to may look very different from the ones we left,” said David King, Robert Half senior district president. “Now is the time for both organizations and employees to explore new ways to create safe, motivating and engaging spaces as business needs, and work cultures, evolve.”

Silver Linings

Of employees surveyed, 79% said they are currently working from home. These workers were asked, “Which of the following positive sentiments have you felt with respect to your job in the past several weeks?” The top responses included:*

  • 60% realize their job is doable from home.
  • 55% feel their work-life balance has improved due to a lack of a commute.
  • 26% have grown more comfortable using technology.
  • 10% have grown closer to colleagues.
  • 8% have grown closer to their boss.

*Multiple responses were permitted

Concerns About Returning to the Office

According to the research, professionals feel some apprehension about going back to their typical workspace:

  • 46% of professionals worry about being in close proximity to their colleagues. 
  • 74% would like to work remotely more frequently than before the outbreak. 
  • 59% believe it will be more difficult to build strong relationships with colleagues if teams aren’t in the same building as much.

*Multiple responses were permitted

Business Protocol in a Post-Pandemic World

Once physical distancing guidelines ease, the workplace will likely change. Of office professionals surveyed:

  • 72% will rethink shaking hands with business contacts. 
  • 73% plan to schedule fewer in-person meetings. 
  • 75% feel they will go back better prepared to support or cover for coworkers who need to be out of the office. 
  • 56% anticipate spending less time in common areas in the office. 
  • 61% will reconsider attending in-person business events and 59% will reconsider travelling for business. 
  • 69% think there will be fewer in-person social and team-building activities with colleagues.

Staff expect their organization to adapt to the new normal. Workers were asked, “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which of the following measures do you think your company needs to take?” and an overwhelming majority, 85% felt that employees should be able to work from home more frequently. 

“People have had a chance to reflect during this period of isolation, and many workers are now looking at their professional lives, and overall career expectations, with new eyes,” added King. “Employers should take advantage of this time of transition to reevaluate their priorities and integrate positive change — whether through more innovative office layouts, health standards or flexible work options — that will resonate not only with current staff, but also appeal to future employees.”

BMO says 80% of employees may switch to blended home-office work

As with many companies worldwide, COVID-19 has already upended much of the workforce of Canada’s fourth-largest bank. According to Mona Malone, chief human resources officer with BMO, she expects that 30% to 80%  of employees may continue to work from home at least some of the time. The Toronto-based bank employed about 45,000 people as of Jan. 31. 

“We’ve been able to maintain continuity of banking services with far more people working outside the office than we ever thought possible,” Malone said. “We thought it was critical that we were in the office to make something happen, and what we’ve proven through this is that’s actually not the case.” For example, call-center agents initially went into offices at the start of the outbreak. Then in the past month, the bank shifted half of its Canadian call-center staff and 80% of its U.S. agents to home offices.

CEO Darryl White has said “a 2.0 version” of the workplace may include the blended home-and-office arrangements, as big employers worldwide reconfigure offices and routines. Malone said Canadian and U.S. branch employees have “by and large” been going into work during the crisis along with a “small amount” of technology and operations employees, while 95% of those in office towers have been working from home. According to  Malone, “It’s a blended approach of thinking about productivity and flexibility and for us not a return to the way it used to be,” she said. “It’s about an evolution in the way that we work.”

Source: Cision Newswire
Source: BNN Bloomberg