Are Canadians ready to adopt flexible work for good?

Employers could be seeing a 'hybrid' workforce emerging

Are Canadians ready to adopt flexible work for good?

More than half of working Canadians are already back in the workplace, but not everyone is excited about their return. Some have been hesitant (15%), while others have been ‘feeling anxious’ (12%) about contracting COVID-19 in the workplace, according to a new study.

Of those gripped with anxiety, the majority still prefer to work remotely (73%), research from ADP Canada and Maru/Blue revealed.

The past several weeks has seen provinces and territories gradually easing restrictions on commercial activity. At the same time, companies have continued to offer the option for employees to work remotely or follow a flexible shift (55%).

But employers need to do more to allay workers’ fears, one expert advises.

READ MORE: Why this country is calling for a six-hour workday

“By sharing a clear reopening plan and setting expectations, employers can mitigate health and safety concerns and ensure employees are aware of new policies and what to expect when they come back to work,” said Heather Haslam, vice president of marketing at ADP Canada.

Long-term changes may be headed their way, however.

As most workers have grown accustomed to their home office environment, employers could be seeing a ‘hybrid’ workforce emerging, the findings suggest. 

More than two in five workers (45%) are looking forward to having a work-from-home option for at least three days a week, while more than a quarter want flexible work hours to continue beyond the crisis period.

“It’s clear that employees want to choose how and when they work,” Haslam said.

READ MORE: Covid-19: Tips for successful remote working

The results of the study build a strong case for remote and flexible working: respondents report the abrupt shift to telecommuting at the height of the pandemic enabled them to stay productive. This suggests a win-win situation for employers and employees.

“Employers that embrace flexibility within their culture may improve employee engagement, retention and performance,” Haslam said.

But while most workers feel on-site and off-site workers alike have equal chances of advancing in their career (45%), a greater number would refuse shifting to remote/flexible work if the changes resulted in a pay cut (69%).

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