Photo by: MilosBataveljic via Canva
As we slowly ease back into the routines we left in March 2020, we’re forced to confront the new normal we’ve settled into over the past year and a half. We’ve grown, changed, and adjusted our lives to fit a day-to-day we never expected to last—so many days. The thought of returning to the office is causing many a teleworker to pause—and it’s not just the hesitation of confronting the work fridge that may or may not have been cleaned out over the “break.”
That’s not to say everyone is happier working from home. There’s still a percentage of workers (in the education sector, for example) who would prefer to return to work outside of the home. Where does this leave us going forward? How do we accommodate as many as possible?
A new study by the Labour Force Survey (Statistics Canada) recently revealed that “overall, 80% of new teleworkers indicated that they would like to work at least half of their hours from home once the pandemic is over.” This study indicates that, regardless of the job, most Canadians desire some type of hybrid solution from their employers.
One positive element of a hybrid solution is reduced travel cost. Limiting how often your employees need to come into the office will reduce their commute time and cost. Apart from finding a new moment in your day to sneak in a podcast or some reading time, removing the daily commute for many has been a serious benefit.
On the flipside, not everyone has been able to find a positive solution for creating their own workplace. Although many of us were able to build up our at-home offices, some don’t have the square footage or the financial means to create a dedicated workspace. It’s nearly impossible to set boundaries at home when your office is also your dinner table, childcare centre, and laundry folding station. Many have never found their groove (especially living in small apartments with partners, roommates, and/or children!) and would prefer to return to their office space.
This is why a hybrid solution makes the most sense for many workplaces. Employees do miss the interaction between colleagues and the environment it can foster. Working from home can feel isolating and strain communication. That being said, productivity has remained steady in most cases or even gone up in the time since the initial transition—the average worker is just better at managing their time when they’re not forcing it into a traditional workday schedule.
Companies can downsize their physical office space to accommodate less people at a time, and those who prefer to get their work done at home can continue to do so. By having a hybrid solution, employers can decide when a meeting requires in-person conversation, when it can be done via Zoom, or, let’s be honest, when it could have been a simple email. Understanding how to accommodate the new ways we work will be a long process, but ultimately could bring us into a world with higher productivity, better work/life balance, and a desire to stay in a position for longer periods of time.
Where do you stand on the work-from-home, traditional office, or hybrid solution?