As the pandemic continues and provinces like B.C. begin to to unveil their reopening plans, a recent study shows returning to normal work life could be different than the pre-pandemic norm with a hybrid workplace model.
Seventy-seven per cent of 2,003 respondents were in favour of having a hybrid workplace model, according to a study conducted by KPMG Canada between March 26 to 30, 2021 that. A further 71 per cent felt a hybrid workplace model should be the new standard, with hybrid meaning the flexibility to work in an office or remotely.
“Although the novelty of everyone working remotely for months on end has worn off, Canadians definitely crave the flexibility to stay at home or go into the office when required,” said Doron Melnick, partner and national leader of KPMG’s People and Change practice, in a press release May 19.
However, the study also showed respondents were concerned about how their employers would handle the change of workflow. Forty-five per cent of respondents said they don’t believe their employers understand the implications of working from home or in a hybrid model.
The study found 81 per cent believe their managers would need better training to manage the workplace and 49 per cent feel they would be discriminated against or be overlooked for job opportunities if they kept working remotely.
“It’s equally clear that Canadians have a lot of concerns about how that will work,” said Melnick. “For many organizations, it’s uncharted territory. But, the risks can be addressed with supports, such as training, technology, guidelines and policies.”
In B.C., the province has unveiled its four-step plan to return to pre-pandemic norms. As of May 25, workplaces can begin the gradual transition back to offices so long as existing COVID-19 safety plans remain in place. Small meetings may be allowed into June if criteria is met, and larger meetings might begin under new safety plans in July.
The province hopes offices and workplaces will be able to fully open in September, where normal operations may resume and masks can be a personal choice.
The study done by KPMG showed about 63 per cent of respondents would like to return to their offices for work.
"This isn't surprising given that our previous research showed the pandemic is negatively impacting Canadians' mental health and many feel overworked and burnt out," said Leigh Harris, a management consulting partner who leads KMPG's federal government practice.
However, they were mainly concerned about contracting the virus. About 68 per cent of respondents identified this as a top three concern.
Harris says that respondents are looking for some form of assurance from their employers that their workplace is safe. She says work places "now have an opportunity to articulate and plan for the future shape of their workforce."