Posted on Friday 23 April 2021
One of the greatest lessons that we’ve all learned from the pandemic is that the traditional way of working can be much more flexible than we thought. Especially if you are in the tech or digital industry. Fact of the matter is everything has changed. The we shop, our banking system and the list goes on.
Public health mandates such as social distancing and decreased interaction in closed spaces have led to an influx of telework. While working from home can certainly bring its own challenges, for many, it has been a welcome change.
The positive effects of working from home on productivity, employee satisfaction, and work-life balance is a hot topic. Today, the biggest question is: once widespread vaccination is achieved and the effects of Covid-19 begin to settle, what’s next for remote working?
Will the allure of working remotely lose its appeal and value altogether as the threat of Covid-19 dissipates and economies bounce back? In the sections below, we’ll take a look at what you can expect after Covid-19 – and whether the home office is here to stay.
There are plenty of jobs that can be just as effectively performed at home than in the office – and some would argue that their productivity is even better at home. A 2020 survey found that approximately 4 in 10 workers are in jobs that could be plausibly carried out at home. Jobs that have the highest capacity for telework include:
Of course, on the other side of the coin are jobs that make prolonged telework impossible due to the nature of the role. For example, most agriculture, forestry, fishing, or hunting jobs require collaborative, in-person work to be performed. Hospitality and service industries (like hotels, theme parks, cruises, restaurants, and bars) also require on-site workers and interaction with the general public.
The capacity for telework will vary by province, too, since each local economy relies on a certain subset of industries. Newfoundland, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Labrador are all provinces with rich mining, oil, and gas industries.
Because these industries require on-site presence by nature, this decreases the overall ability for workers to stay remote. Similarly, high numbers of agricultural jobs can make it difficult for most in Prince Edward Island to work from home.
Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia have the highest numbers of industries that allow for telework – which could be good news for those in finance, insurance, or professional services.
There are a wide range of benefits to working remotely. Employees who can work from home (even if it’s just a few days a week) tend to experience better work-life balance and greater job satisfaction as a result.
Having a home office makes it easier to run quick errands, make smarter meal choices, and even save money on expensive lattes for commutes back and forth to work. Many at-home workers also report having better focus without office distractions and noise, leading to greater productivity and higher quality output.
Economically, businesses who go fully remote can save on office space and all of the overhead costs that come along with it. Even renting space at a co-working office can result in big savings for rent, electric, water, and more.
But for businesses that have a fraction of their employees as remote workers, overhead costs tend to stay the same. After all, even with just a handful of employees in the office, the rent still needs to be paid and the lights still need to be on. Even without a direct financial benefit, businesses that place high value on employee satisfaction will likely be more open to a hybrid model of in-office and remote work after Covid-19.
Safety and health remains a top concern for employers and employees alike. Increased sanitization measures, proper social distancing protocols, PPE (such as masks) and even protective barriers are all part and parcel to the new workplace. This is particularly true for those who work in at-risk industries, such as healthcare, social work, hospitality, service, and retail. Plus now with CERB payments coming to an end, there might not be a choice.
Employers have been quick to adapt to new protocols. A 2020 survey showed that nearly 75 percent of businesses are increasing sanitization methods to make the workplace safer for employees and customers. With a year of the pandemic under our collective belts, this percentage is likely much higher today.
Workplaces across the country have also implemented social distancing measures, spacing desks apart, adjusting waiting room layouts, and creating one-way aisles. Many retail stores have also added plexiglass barriers as an added layer of protection to keep both customers and workers safe.
It’s hard to deny that the logistics of working from home are much more accommodating. Eliminating the daily commute back and forth from work not only saves time and stress, but it also saves money on gas and public transportation. That equals lower air pollution, less money spent on gas, and even a healthier work-life balance.
Of course, there’s a tradeoff: in-person meetings are replaced by Zoom calls and overflowing inboxes. Daily tasks often become more complicated with at-home childcare, pets, or makeshift offices in common areas, like kitchens and living rooms. And not all jobs or workers fit into a working-from-home box.
Is working from home here to stay? If survey data shows anything, it’s that more Canadians than ever before are embracing remote work with open arms. A workplace that is fully remote may not become the new widespread normal – but it’s certainly become much more possible.