The “Next Normal” of Work: Hybrid and Flexible Arrangements
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, companies are reassessing their work policies and considering how to adapt to the “next normal” of work. Deloitte Canada is one such company that has embraced hybrid working arrangements, with about one-fifth of its regional workforce of 1,500 people typically in the office on a given day. However, Deloitte does not plan to mandate a return to the office and predicts that the number of employees physically present will increase this fall.
Flexibility in Office Space
The shift to remote work has led to a reconsideration of office space, with many companies opting for more flexible arrangements. Stanford University economics professor Nicholas Bloom believes that “work from home is clearly here to stay.” Colliers Canada, a real estate management company, has seen a four percent increase in the number of companies moving to full-time occupancy in the office between spring and fall, with 37% of respondents indicating they were going in to the office five days a week. Some companies are reportedly considering removing the voluntary option for returning to the office as we head into the fall.
Impacts on Cities and Commuters
The adoption of remote work has had different impacts on cities and commuters. In Toronto, the Strategic Regional Research Alliance estimates that the percentage of people coming into the office is still less than 30% of pre-COVID levels. This has led to a decline in public transit usage and a corresponding increase in the use of private vehicles, resulting in increased traffic congestion. In contrast, Vancouver has seen a significant drop in traffic congestion due to the shift to remote work and an increase in active transportation options such as biking and walking.
“Quiet Quitting” and Retaining Talent
The pandemic has also led to the phenomenon of “quiet quitting,” where employees leave their jobs without announcing their departure. This trend has prompted companies to reassess their policies and consider offering more flexible work arrangements in order to retain talented employees. The federal government in Canada has faced pushback from employees hesitant to return to the office, leading to the creation of a voluntary program for those who prefer to continue working from home.
The Future of Work
Overall, it seems that the shift to remote work has led to a reconsideration of traditional office space and work policies, with companies embracing hybrid and flexible arrangements. While some employees may be eager to return to the office, others may prefer to continue working from home, leading to a more diverse range of work arrangements in the future. The “next normal” of work may be a combination of remote and in-office work, with a greater emphasis on flexibility.