Almost 5 million Canadians started working from home last year when the pandemic hit, just like they did all around the world in a variety of industries. For many this change in a work environment worked out better for them and they really thrived with it, but for others it wasn’t the same story.
Some Canadians who started working from home had issues finding a healthy work-home life balance, they felt burned out by working at home. Depending on the job and the person, working at home isn’t always going to give the best results or be the best environment for the individual to thrive.
One survey found that about 46 percent of Canadians said it was more difficult to work at home because of distractions.
Some really thrived with the change though and they want to stick with working from home for good. That same survey found that about 65 percent of Canadians had said they enjoyed the transition of working from home. In fact, it found that they are loving working from home so much that they now say that they want to stick with it even when the pandemic is over.
Now a more recent survey shows the same, many Canadians still have that hope that working from home is now here to stay for them. The survey showed that for a significant portion of those working from home they are still hoping to stick with it permanently. They prefer it so much that they say they’re willing to dump their job and look for something else if they are asked to go back to the office.
Many of these workers are expecting that work from home to continue and about 49 percent of B.C. workers suggest they will be ready to look for another opportunity if needed.
One survey showed that about 54 percent of employed B.C. residents had a chance to work from home during COVID-19. It helped businesses re-prioritize and that might have some long-lasting effects in the business arena. For example, as a result of the pandemic many are now expecting that there will be more virtual business meetings and less business travel, fewer in-staff meetings locally as well.
A small percentage of those working in B.C. who have transitioned to working from home are under the impression that they will be returning to the office full-time post-pandemic.
There is more appeal now with Canadians to have that flexibility that they get when they can work from home. Now that the pandemic has given them the chance to experience that and see that it can be done, it will be hard for businesses to make their office attractive to employees to want to come back and enjoy working there. They might need to do more to compete when there are other virtual opportunities that give employees in B.C. the work at home experience.
Surveys have found that millions of those Canadians were really enjoying the change in working at home but just because people started working from home doesn’t mean they still weren’t being monitored by their employers.
Businesses used a variety of strategies since COVID-19 hit, in order to monitor the productivity and engagement of the employees from day-to-day who were working from home. This shift in working from home has also helped to bring more interest to the market for services and products that are out there that can help connect employees with their business. Those companies need to find solutions that address their need to monitor individuals who are working and to be able to connect with their employees, like Zoom has. They need tools that can help them learn how they can remotely engage with their employees and keep track of all of that productivity.
When it comes to monitoring at-home actions this then raises privacy concerns however, along with other potential issues. Not only that, but some wonder if it might eventually lead to pay cuts for Canadian jobs as well. Those industries that expect to continue that work from home include professional, scientific, technical services, information services, and others.
One of the biggest companies to make that virtual work shift was Shopify, moving thousands of their employees to at-home work.
Some businesses might have already let their employees know about permanent plans for virtual work, while others might not be clear on the long-term plans just yet. At least 25 percent of Canadian businesses are also likely to offer that work from home option to their employees even after the pandemic is over.
Working from home during the pandemic gave millions of employees and their employers the chance to realize that it can be done from home. Many might be wondering, why head back into the office if they can get the same work done virtually? Just as well, they might be looking for even more flexibility as far as when they can get the work done at home too. This might mean a mix between working at the office and working from home, which is what some companies are already planning to do.
What might that mean for all of that business commercial space in Downtown areas?
It could be the start of a permanent shift forever with the new normal being people working from home in a variety of industries from banking to retail and more.
Those massive commercial buildings then all around the downtown core that are usually filled with those employees would be empty. If those businesses no longer need that space and they remain empty then that would cut the municipal tax base in those areas and could drastically reduce revenue for cities across Canada and elsewhere.
It would also mean a reduction in business for local vendors and services, with those middle or high-income earners staying at home instead of coming into the city for example. They won’t be getting their usual cup of coffee or lunch from a local vendor. But the full potential of this shift isn’t expected to be realized for potentially years from now.