Most Canadians fear return to workplace, finds KPMG study

10 August 2020 2 min. read
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More than half of Canadians (54%) are afraid of returning to their physical workplace because of how contagious Covid-19 is, according to a recent study from KPMG Canada. However, 82% trust their employer to maintain the necessary health and safety precautions.

Regionally, Ontarians and British Columbians were the most afraid of returning to the workplace, at 64% and 60%, respectively. Albertans (43%) and Quebeckers (44%) were least afraid of returning to the physical workplace.

Women were more concerned about returning, at 59%, compared to men, at 49%.

Although 72% of Canadians are fine with returning the workplace now – when Covid-19 cases are depressed – they believe a second wave in fall or winter will shut down workplaces regardless. Almost all Canadian respondents (94%) believe the pandemic is far from over.

The KPMG survey found that most Canadians are currently satisfied with remote-work arrangements (76%), while 59% say that they’ve been more productive working from home.

Return to workplace scares most Canadians

The counterpoint is that many (59%) believe their relationship with co-workers is suffering in a virtual environment. The majority of Canadian workers prefer in-person communication (71%) over other forms, while three-quarters believe face-to-face meetings are critical to maintaining long-term business relationships.

The top concern (77%) for Canadians in returning to the workplace is that colleagues might come to work sick, or be asymptomatic. Workers were least concerned about having to wear a mask.

Nonetheless, 82% of Canadians trust their employer to maintain the necessary health and safety precautions in the workplace.

"Our poll findings clearly show that Canadians are placing a great deal of trust in their employers to manage their return to the workplace and in keeping them safe," says Doron Melnick, partner and acting lead of KPMG's people and change advisory services practice. "The pandemic is forcing every employer in the country to adopt comprehensive protocols and safety measures, and to look at new ways of staying connected to their employees."

Like many other consulting firms, KPMG is offering an app-based solution to help businesses manage the pandemic-impacted workplace – and maintain trust with their workers. The firm's new Workplace Safeguarding App keeps employees connected with notifications on urgent news, required actions, office open/closure status, and the level of health risk for offices and client sites. The consulting firm says the app does not geo-track workers.

“Our app helps make managing who returns to the workplace, when, and where much smoother,” said Yvon Audette, COO of management consulting services at KPMG Canada.