Remote work: between expectations and fears about returning to the office

While some employees look forward to seeing their colleagues in the office on a regular basis, others have loved working remotely, away from traffic and jackets.

Thus, many companies face a logistical problem in the context of the ongoing decoupling process. places condition.

In March 2020, when Legault government mandated teleworking for all administrative and office staff, many companies had to urgently adapt to this new reality. This situation, which is temporary, can have lasting effects on the organization of work for many employers, as evidenced by The third edition of Downtown Montreal State, published in mid-May by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec.

This report showed that 76% of the 1,000 Greater Montreal workers surveyed at the beginning of April would like to continue working from home for more than half the week after the pandemic.

Most Quebec companies have been contacted by duty In recent weeks, they have also indicated that they have conducted an internal survey of their employees in recent months to find out their expectations in anticipation of a return to the office.

Unanimously, they note that remote work exists forever, at least part of the week, in a “hybrid” format. That’s what Louis Duchesne, president of Quebec and Eastern Canada, told Cosette Advertising Agency.

“If I had to summarize for you what came out [nos sondages internes]Is that almost no one wants to go back to what it was before ”, he said in an interview.

“We still believe in the importance of a physical office and will encourage our employees to come into the office, but not necessarily on a full-time basis,” he adds.

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“Everyone has this rhetoric,” launched senior vice president at real estate firm CBRE, Christian Charbonneau, which has several large Montreal employers among its clients.

According to him, if companies adopt this compromise approach, halfway between remote work and a full return to the office, it is necessary to avoid being told that “they are not listening to their employees”.

“The biggest issue for the clients I talk to is retaining the workforce,” he adds. However, “a company that does not have an openness to remote work is sure to have a hard time retaining its employees,” says Langlois labor law attorney Marianne Plamondon, who states that a “labour shortage” affects many people. high-tech sectors.

Complex preparation

And so companies find themselves having to improve their work policies, review the composition and size of their office space, and be innovative in trying to persuade their employees to return to the office a few days a week when Quebec City delegates, likely at the end of August.

“Offices for professionals, I have the impression that this will significantly reduce this reality in various professional circles,” predicts the director of Devichy Avocats, Xavier Cormier, which has offices in nine cities in Quebec, including Montreal and Gatineau. After the pandemic, its employees will continue to work remotely and will only come to the office to meet with clients from time to time. Spaces will be shared and will operate under reservation, an approach many of the companies contacted intend to adopt as well, for efficiency.

“You can’t have an expensive real estate portfolio in downtown Montreal with empty offices [en raison du télétravail] ‘ explains Mr. Cormier.

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Montreal software company GSoft, which has about 300 employees, has adjusted its employee benefits to include “a budget that covers expenses related to the work environment at home in addition to paying for the use of the Internet,” says spokeswoman Jennifer Ahken. The company has also “reduced the space and completely rethought the design of [ses bureaux] She adds.

“Is it really a concern for the welfare of our employees to force everyone to be in traffic at 7:30 in the morning?” » – Louis Duchesne, President of Quebec and Eastern Canada in Côteste

downtown revival

At accounting firm EY Canada, whose head office is in the heart of the capital, a hybrid working formula, alternating between home and office, was already in place long before the pandemic.

“Now it is generalized [le télétravail] It’s five days a week and that worries us,” however, says EY Deputy Director of Quebec, Anne-Marie Hubert.

According to her, being in the office from time to time is necessary to contribute to the professional and personal development of employees, but also to “revitalize the city centre.”

For the vast majorityغالب [des employés]What they lack the most are the social interactions, spontaneous collaboration, and learning and communication capabilities that come from being in the office,” notes IBM Canada’s Director of Human Resources, Katherine Faichnie. Supporting internal surveys indicate that the majority of company employees would like to return to the office. “At least one to three days a week” at the end of the health crisis.

Now it is generalized [le télétravail] And it’s five days a week and that worries us

For the Quebec government, the various departments and organizations contacted confirm that the vast majority of its thousands of employees are currently continuing to work remotely. A measure that will continue as long as the epidemic is no longer behind us.

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“The gradual return of all public servants can take place from the date on which the color shifts are withdrawn. According to the main stages of dismantling introduced by the government, this may correspond to the end of August,” suggests the leader of the public affairs team at the Treasury Council, Antoine Tousignant.

change office profession

Employers could also decide to revise their office layout in the coming months, anticipates ADHOC Architects’ chief designer, Mélanie Boivin.

“There is a temptation to reduce space. But sometimes it is not useful to reduce space, [et plus judicieux] To review the activities we do in the office,” she asserts. According to her, employers would benefit from finding a balance between closed spaces for employees seeking peace, and open spaces, as well as meeting rooms meant for group work in small groups. She believes that special attention should also be given of the work environment in the workplace.

“If employees are uncomfortable and their work environment is too noisy, they will not benefit from returning to the office,” sums up the master.I Boivin. A call was heard by engineering firm FNX-INNOV, which will try to persuade its employees to return to the office a few days after the outbreak.

“We have modernized our spaces thus far, with more modern and collaborative spaces,” explains Carolyn DuPont, Director of Human Resources at FNX-INNOV.

Remote work enthusiasts

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