More than half of companies planning a full return to office

24 August 2021 Consulting.ca 3 min. read

More than half of companies are planning a full return to the office once the pandemic ends, according to a report from staffing and HR consultancy Robert Half. The firm surveyed 800 senior managers in Canada in June and July 2021.

Fifty-six percent of senior managers said they will require teams to be on-site full time once Covid restrictions lift. Meanwhile, 29% said they will follow a hybrid schedule with time divided between the office and home, and 13% said they would allow workers to work fully remotely.

Employers should be wary of mandating a swift and complete return to the office, however. According to an April survey from EY Canada, 9 in 10 employees expect to work between two to three days remotely after the pandemic. A majority (54%) of respondents in the EY survey said they were likely to quit if their current flexibility in work location and schedule isn’t extended post-pandemic – with millennials twice as likely to leave as boomers.

According to a similar Robert Half survey from April, approximately 50% of Canadian workers prefer hybrid work, while 1 in 3 professionals working from home would look for a new job if they were forced to return to the office full time.The future of Hybrid WorkFirms that reject hybrid work risk pushing scarce talent to more flexible competitors. Another Robert Half survey found that 43% of Canadian companies plan to add new permanent positions in the second half of 2021.

In the labour-strapped consulting market, for example, this has prompted Deloitte to announce a hybrid work model in order to better attract recent university graduates and experienced hires.

"As companies develop, implement, and refine their office re-entry plans, managers need to carefully consider employees' preferences," said David King, Canadian senior district president of Robert Half. "In today's candidate-driven market, workers have options and providing continued flexibility will be critical to keeping valued employees on board well into the future."

Technology departments – which can effectively work from home and must also compete for the most in-demand talent – were most likely to favour flexibility in work arrangements, at 48%. Larger organizations (1,000+ people) were more likely to favour hybrid or remote work, at 53%, according to the Robert Half survey.

The top challenges of hybrid work cited by senior managers were: trusting employees to get work done (22%), communicating effectively (21%), team development (20%), gauging workloads (18%), and rewarding employee accomplishments (18%).

"Although successfully adopting a long-term hybrid approach requires significant commitment and collaboration from teams across the organization, this effort will help to foster a strong corporate culture while supporting companies' efforts to attract and retain top talent," King added.