While many Canadian professionals are embracing hybrid work arrangements, new research from talent solutions firm Robert Half shows more than half of companies anticipate a full return to the office once the pandemic ends. According to a survey of 800 senior managers in Canada, 56 per cent of respondents said they will require their teams to be on-site full time once COVID-19-related restrictions completely lift. Fewer will allow employees to follow a hybrid schedule where they can divide time between the office and another location (29 per cent) or give staff the complete freedom to choose where they work (13 per cent).
Workers May Walk
Employers should be aware of the risks of mandating a full return to the office: Previous research reveals more than half of employees (51 per cent) prefer a hybrid arrangement and 1 in 3 professionals (33 per cent) currently working from home due to the pandemic would look for a new job if required to be in the office five days a week. In addition, a separate survey finds 30 per cent of workers feel much more productive when remote versus in the office.
“As companies develop, implement, and refine their office re-entry plans, managers need to carefully consider employees’ preferences,” said David King, Canadian senior district president of Robert Half. “In today’s candidate-driven market, workers have options and providing continued flexibility will be critical to keeping valued employees on board well into the future.”
Where Hybrid Opportunities Will Prevail
Managers’ views about the future of hybrid work vary by practice area and company size. Those most likely to favour flexibility (with the highest percentage allowing employees to be remote part or full-time) work in:
- Technology departments (48 per cent)
- Large organizations with 1,000 or more employees (53 per cent)
Hybrid Work Hurdles
Employers cited a variety of top challenges when managing hybrid teams, pointing to the complexities of supporting a dispersed workforce long-term:
- Trusting employees to get work done: 22 per cent
- Communicating effectively with team members: 21 per cent
- Finding time for team development: 20 per cent
- Gauging workloads and helping staff avoid burnout: 18 per cent
- Effectively recognizing and rewarding employee accomplishments: 18 per cent
King added, “Although successfully adopting a long-term hybrid approach requires significant commitment and collaboration from teams across the organization, this effort will help to foster a strong corporate culture while supporting companies’ efforts to attract and retain top talent.”
About the Research
The online surveys were developed by Robert Half and conducted by independent research firms. They include responses from more than 800 senior managers in finance, technology, marketing, legal, administrative support, human resources, and other areas at companies with 20 or more employees (collected June 4 to July 1, 2021) and more than 500 workers 18 years of age or older (collected March 26 to April 15, 2021) in Canada.