When the pandemic ends, over three-quarters (77 per cent) of Canadians want the flexibility to work in the office and remotely, finds a recent survey of 2,003 respondents by KPMG in Canada. Indeed, 71 per cent believe a hybrid workplace, or hybrid office, should be the standard model for all organizations.
Canadians, though, worry about how this reinvention of the workplace will be handled by their employers. Four in five (81 per cent) expressed concern that their bosses aren't prepared nor equipped to manage hybrid workplace models – the 'in-groups' and 'out-groups' – and nearly half (49 per cent) feel they could be overlooked for promotions or face discrimination if they wanted to continue working from home.
A similar number – nearly half (45 per cent) – believe their employer does not understand the implications of a hybrid workplace model.
"Although the novelty of everyone working remotely for months on end has worn off, Canadians definitely crave the flexibility to stay at home or go into the office when required," says Doron Melnick, partner and national leader of KPMG's People and Change practice. "It's equally clear that Canadians have a lot of concerns about how that will work. For many organizations, it's uncharted territory. But, the risks can be addressed with supports, such as training, technology, guidelines, and policies."
Key poll findings:
Over three in five (63 per cent) Canadians say that they want to return to their physical workplace or office.
"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," says Leigh Harris, a management consulting partner, who leads KPMG's federal government practice. "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."
And, while previous KPMG research showed that the pandemic has proven that most people can work independently and three in five find more purpose in their work, fewer people today feel satisfied with their current work-from-home setup or environment and are feeling less productive than they were during the first lockdown last year.
Nonetheless, they remain worried about contracting COVID-19 variants, with 72 per cent reluctant to take public transportation – virtually unchanged from a similar KPMG Return to the Workplace poll conducted last year. Three in five (59 per cent) remain worried about travelling for work within province, Canada, or abroad.
The biggest worry about returning to the workplace for Canadians is the risk that that they will contract the disease from colleagues coming to work sick or asymptotic. Nearly seven in 10 (68 per cent) Canadians identified this as a top three concern.
While there's much debate about the rights and obligations of vaccine passports, Ms. Harris notes that the KPMG poll shows Canadians are looking for some degree of assurance from their employers that their workplace is safe. In fact, over half want their employer to require vaccine passports and nearly six in 10 think employers should have the right to demand staff be vaccinated before entering the workplace.
KPMG surveyed 2,003 Canadians aged 18+ from March 26 to 30, 2021, leveraging Delvinia's AskingCanadians panel through its methodify online research platform. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.
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Caroline Van Hasselt
KPMG in Canada