“A magnet, not a mandate”: How some large Canadian companies are reframing the office – National

Sixteen months after the start of the COVID-19 health emergency in North America, working from home looks set to survive the pandemic.

The forced exodus of cubicles and meeting rooms has taught employers that “you can trust your employees and they will work when they are not in the office,” says Jane Griffith, Managing Partner and Founder of Griffith Group Executive Search.

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But most companies don’t completely let go of the office. The company’s buzzword for post-pandemic work setups is “hybrid model,” Griffith says. For many employees, in other words, some of the work will be done at home and some, again, in the office.


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The ability to continuously work from home for at least a few days a week has become a key demand for many job applicants, according to HR experts and recruiters. And businesses are taking note.

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“Flexible and hybrid work models are here to stay,” wrote RBC CEO Dave McKay in a recent post on LinkedIn.

The bank leaves it to its business leaders and teams to come up with flexible arrangements tailored to their needs, he added.

“Over the next few months, we will test and learn as we go and adjust our plans along the way. “

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Another giant in the financial industry, Sun Life, said it would allow its 12,000 Canadian employees to decide which arrangement suits their needs.

Following the announcement, the company sees “even more interest from top talent in industry professionals,” said Oricia Smith, President of Sun Life Global Investments and Senior Vice President of Solutions investment with Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada.

Employers who insist on the old-fashioned work week in the office are now often at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to attracting new hires and retaining employees, Griffith says.

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It’s mostly in mid-sized businesses that Griffith sees an old-fashioned attachment to having employees clock in the office Monday through Friday. But this expectation often meets with a “pushback from the labor market,” she says.

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Even staff retention becomes an issue for companies that don’t allow flexibility, according to Griffith.

“Some might argue that there has been an exodus of these companies,” she said.


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Smith also believes hybrid models will help boost diversity.

“Making flexible options more accessible and encouraging men to use them as well will result in a much more productive and diverse workplace,” she says.

A mother of three teenagers – one of whom is a competitive athlete who would still train at 6 a.m. every day on Zoom – Smith says she has seen the benefits of working from home firsthand.

This flexibility has become even more important in recent months, when Smith’s mother was hospitalized and required surgery and then rehabilitation.

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“Taking the time on a Friday to visit my mother in the hospital, when it was permitted, or just stop for lunch with my father, who was very independent but was home alone, became a very big deal. priority for me, ”she said. .

Still, employers and employees are keen to maintain at least some attachment to the office, Griffith says. Requests for full-time remote work from job applicants are still relatively rare, she says. And companies generally want staff to check in at the office at least a few days a week, she says.

At Sunlife, the office will continue to be a meeting place between employees and employees, says Smith.

“We want our offices to be a magnet, not a mandate. “

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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