Majority of Canadians echo sentiments of finding new work if mandated back to work

Work from home is more than a perk now, it’s non-negotiable.  

While many across Canada have started to go back into the office part-time with a couple of commuter days a week, surveys and popular opinion confirms what many feel should go without saying. Returning to the office full time is not on the table. 

A survey released this month by Hardbacon found that 80% of Canadians would leave their current position for another one that is remote-friendly if mandated for a full return to the office.  

These same findings have seemingly prevailed for much of 2022, with employees citing the time it takes to commute to the office, rising gas prices, and general expenses on things such as meals and missing time with family. The commute into the downtown core has become an inconvenience for many and thus fallen out of favor, if not completely off the table of options. 

Reading the Room (Even if it’s empty) 

Meanwhile some companies, like AIMCo CEO Evan Siddall, referring to mandated return to work as “tone deaf”. Many would agree with this, and rightfully so, as many employees have built much of their lifestyles now with remote or primarily remote work as a pillar of what many would refer to as a work-life balance.  

Isolated instances like a 2-day turnaround to return to the office by one company back in June highlighted an area of concern for many, hoping that if called on to return that a plan would be in place.  

We’ve highlighted the importance of a return to office plan as it will show the value added to returning to the office as opposed to trying to pitch what we once had as a better alternative. Companies like an Ottawa tech firm have taken a different approach to try and avoid a mass resignation that mandated return to office would have. Redesigning their office from cubicles to an open, communal space that is meant to foster collaboration and connection between colleagues.  

Offering amenities and other location-based perks such as a fitness center, or lighting fixtures to change the environment of the office to be more inviting are also seen as a common upgrade. 

A Path Forward 

Changes like this and turning the office into something that has been touted as missing for much of the remote work era, collaboration and connection at work. Whether it be on projects or holding certain meetings. Finding a way around mandating a return to the office full time and making time in the office advantageous to the employees. 

Ultimately, many who are mandated to return will, but for how long they remain in this is yet to be determined. We have not yet seen a significant jump in resignations, but as more people return to an office setting due to corporate pressures an amicable solution to the problem for all should be a priority.  

Retaining talent and avoiding loss of talent for no other reason than “people should be in the office” as we have seen some companies try, is going to be paramount going forward. 

Offering flexibility with the office and ensuring that there is a true benefit to being in the office for some period each week will mean that people want to be there. As stated earlier, adding value that equates to or outweighs the commute or expenses that are taken to get there is the only way to sustainably do this. 

Looking Internally 

Additionally, to wanting people back, being prepared for the return of employees is important. Lack of planning or direction in returning to the office sows’ confusion and frustration among employees and may result in the 80% resignation sentiments we’ve seen in surveys.  

Ensuring that proper health and safety measures are taken alongside supporting what teams need to succeed are two major areas of concern. Who is going to want to be in an office that isn’t as well equipped as their home office?  

Making sure that ease of access and general operations are elevated to standard so that staff can not only get the work done that they are there to do but feel supported and safe in doing so.  

With the way things have changed over the last 2 years, employees have more of a voice in their workplace now. Making sure that their needs are met as well as the businesses is going to be a balancing act for many, if not all business owners, but overall ensuring that their voices are heard is going to be beneficial in the long run.