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Rising Omicron Threat: Canadians Feel Unsure About Working From The Office in 2022

According to a recent poll, half of the employees working from home anticipate returning to the office on a regular basis in 2022, indicating that Canadians are concerned about the future of their employment.

Source: The New York Times/ Glenn Harvey

Whereas there doesn’t appear to be a strong agreement as to whether the majority of individuals presently working from home will return to the office, a growing majority is emerging to demonstrate a preference in where and how they want to work.

The poll that was conducted exclusively for Global News by Ipsos, reveals working Canadians’ experiences in 2021 as well as their hopes for the new year “given the ever-shifting backdrop” of Covid-19 in Canada.

Whereas half of Canadians anticipate coming back to work and the other half to continue working from home in 2021, the majority, or roughly 64%, claim to have acquired a better work-life balance.

According to Darrell Bricker, Ipsos’ CEO of Public Affairs, while there has been a consistent number of Canadians expressing reluctance to return to their office, their reasons for doing so may have altered slightly.

“Part of it seems to be concern about safety, but an increasing part of it and this is the really interesting finding here is about a preference,” said Bricker. “It’s no longer about ‘I’m not going to go back to the office because I don’t think it’s safe.’ It’s ‘I’m not going to go back to the office because I feel like I actually prefer to work at home.’”

According to the study, almost nine out of ten Canadians preferred working from home in 2021, and 58% indicated they missed being together with their coworkers in person. An overwhelming majority of Canadians have stated their willingness to continue working from home or outside of their office in the last year.

A poll was conducted in May by Leger, the largest Canadian-owned market research and analytics company, in collaboration with the Association for Canadian Studies which revealed that four out of five respondents did not want to return to their pre-pandemic schedule, with 35% of those who were still working from home at the time saying they would quit if their employer forced them to.

Approximately three out of every four businesses would continue allowing their employees to work from home post-pandemic, and that more than half of employees would like to continue working remotely as much or more than they do now, indicated a poll released in June by the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Whereas the new work-from-home situation for Canadians has been universally viewed as a plus, professionals, as well as some workers, have highlighted potential drawbacks, such as a challenge in “unplugging” during their time off.

“We’ve seen an increasing trend in organizations to expect employees to be reached after hours, and that emails that are sent in late afternoon hours [or] evening hours will indeed be replied to the same day,” explained Matthia Spitzmuller, associate professor of organizational behaviour at Queen’s University in a previous interview.

According to a KPMG poll of 1,000 Canadians done in April, nearly half of Canadians said their workload was heavier than it was before the pandemic. Because of the increased workload and inability to disengage, a sizable number of workers are concerned that burnout will impair their capacity to do their duties, fatigue that has been compounded by the other burnout experienced by many during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Whereas the majority of Canadians think working from home has improved their work-life balance, approximately four in ten say they would be OK making 20% less money if they could work 20% fewer hours than they do now, according to an Ipsos study.

“There’s a significant number of people who are saying that the work-life balance is better working from home,” said Bricker. “So I expect that if they start getting forced to go back to the office, there is going to be some interesting discussions and debates with their employers.”

Finally, Bricker stated that the structure of Canadians’ work-life has evolved significantly over the past year, with most of those who recently began a new job in the previous year admitting that it was their decision.

The “Great Resignation” that was taking place in the United States was not yet taking place in Canada, though polling data indicated that more people were willing to make compromises in terms of the amount of dedication they make to work relative to time and the amount of pay that they were receiving, stated Brick.

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