Majority of Canadians want hybrid work model: KPMG

by Neil Sharma on 26 May 2021

Over three quarters of Canadians want a hybrid work arrangement in which they split time between their office and home, according to a new survey from KPMG.

Seventy-seven percent of the 2,003 respondents prefer the flexible work arrangement, with 71% stating that the hybrid model should be standard for all organizations. However, 81% expressed reservations about whether or not their employers could accommodate such an arrangement, while 49% expressed concern that they could be passed over for promotions or be singled out for discrimination if they keep working remotely. Forty-six percent of respondents believe their managers would go so far as to penalize them for not physically being in the office every day, and 45% aren’t confident their employers fully grasp the implications of the hybrid work model.

Three in five, or 63%, of respondents want to physically return to their workplaces, which KPMG’s Leigh Harris, a management consulting partner on the company’s federal government practice, says is unsurprising because of the toll isolation has taken on people through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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 Harris. “COVID-19 lifted much of the inertia around challenging the what, how, when, and where people work, and organizations now have an opportunity to articulate and plan for the future shape of their workforce.

Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents worried about contracting COVID-19 from colleagues who are either sick or asymptomatic as among their three biggest concerns about returning to offices.

According to Melissa Burton, consulting practice leader for Arup Canada, an engineering advisory company that focuses on the built environment, offices will be different post-pandemic. For one, building entries might have to be staggered to prevent a series of queues from forming that stretch around city blocks.

“If you’re an individual or company that owns or rents floors—let’s say floors 27-35—in an office tower and you want to understand how you will be able to bring people back to work, you need to share elevator space with all other floors,” she said. “Queuing protocols are set up for staff to enter into buildings, which includes their times of entry. Instead of everybody arriving at 9 AM, why not stagger entry times into the building?”

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