EXCLUSIVE: Canadian HR leaders reveal return to work worries

HRD Canada's research reveals HR's plans for returning to work

EXCLUSIVE: Canadian HR leaders reveal return to work worries

As COVID-19 rates rise across Canada, employers are wondering what the future holds.

As of Wednesday, the Toronto Public Health (TPH) reported 1,308 Toronto residents had died after contracting the virus.

Uncertainty hangs in the air, and despite how eager we all are for a return to something akin to normality – for 2020 this seems unlikely.

Read more: COVID-19: Can you force employees to take the vaccine?

HRD recently undertook some research to try and find out how HR leaders across Canada were feeling about returning to work – with some rather eye-opening results.

Our research found that 87% of Canadian HR leaders were planning to return to the office, with almost half of them preparing to bring back between 75%-100% of their workforce.

However, this was not without considerable trepidation.

Physical health and safety implications seem to be a paramount concern for HR leaders, with many citing social distancing, office capacity, and navigating new provincial guidelines as their main worries.

Read more: ‘Slow and steady’: Returning to work responsibly

One concern which was repeatedly brought up was the fact that many of their employees simply don’t want to return to the office. This new, remote-style working culture suits many people better than the old norm – and so trying to convince staff to get on public transport to come into a busy workplace and mingle with other employees will be a hard sell.

 HRD Canada spoke to IBM’s HRD, Katherine Faichnie, on if or when she plans to bring staff back to work.

“We’re keeping an eye on federal and provincial protocols and are using discretion based on the fluidity of the pandemic,” she told HRD.

“Except for a select group of our workforce or those who need to visit an IBM location to pick up essential belongings, we’ve informed employees that they are not expected to come back to the office for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year.

“As to 2021, we are not really sure what this year will bring.  I am sure it will not be the same as it was pre-COVID – it will be reimagined.”

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