What does the future hold for teleworking?

Let it be said: teleworking is here to stay. Still marginal not so long ago, its arrival has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to two recent studies, it is set to become the standard and will go hand in hand with flexibility.

A Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) survey of 700 Canadian companies and their staff shows that a major shift is underway. Before the pandemic, only 24% of SMEs said they had half of their staff working from home. Since then, this proportion has risen to 42%.

But it the projections that are especially striking. Indeed, we learn that 74% of SME owners plan to offer their employees to continue teleworking after the pandemic ends.

Moreover, companies will have little choice, because it can be seen that it is now a matter of retention. Another survey, conducted by Ernst & Young, reveals that 54% of respondents would consider quitting their company if they are not offered flexible working arrangements in terms of location and hours.

The future of telework will be hybrid

“The pandemic has been a great laboratory for teleworking,” says Éric Gosselin, full professor in work and organizational psychology at the Department of Industrial Relations at the Université du Québec en Outaouais. For years, employees and unions had called for more teleworking and employers were reluctant, due to concerns about performance and time control. The pandemic test has allayed some fears. It’s a small revolution that requires adjustments, but is here for good. “In my opinion, we will move towards a hybrid mode, with some days at the office and others at home.”

Less time lost in commuting, lower stress and better work-family balance, are all factors in favour of teleworking. This still has its drawbacks, such as reduced interactions and synergy between colleagues.

“We will have to counter that with days when everyone is there,” Éric Gosselin adds. “In recent years, we have been putting a lot of emphasis on teamwork, which has demonstrated its effectiveness in the logic that several heads are better than one, and virtual meetings do not completely replace face-to-face. Some face-to-face meetings will not be able to disappear.”

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