From a strong job market to the World Health Organization officially downgrading the status of COVID-19 to a global health emergency, signs of economic recovery from the pandemic are everywhere.
But nothing is clearer in empty cities across the country than the sight of millions of office workers returning to cities after working from home over the past three years.
The trend is undeniable. Cell phone data suggests that Canadian cities are now About half full People during the workday compared to the pre-pandemic period. That’s less than 10 percent seen at various points since 2020, when lockdowns began when the pandemic began.
While Canadian cities still lag behind cities in the U.S., many large employers are trying to do what they can to close the gap.
3 days a week
After allowing its office workers to work from home during the pandemic, Canada’s most prestigious institution, Royal Bank of Canada, took a major step in mandating its employees to come to the office at least three days a week starting May 1. Manufacturing concerns.
„I think in many ways not working together has led to productivity and innovation challenges, and the community is not working together well enough,” said the president and CEO. Dave McKay explained the decision.
RBC isn’t the only company to think so. As of this week, e-commerce giant Amazon is doing the same, requiring almost all employees to be in the office at least three days a week.
Bringing thousands of people back to the office — some of whom weren’t even there because they were laid off during the pandemic — is a complex problem, „so we’re going to give some time to the teams that need to do that work. A plan,” said Andy Jassy, president and CEO of Amazon.
Mackenzie Irwin, an employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP in Toronto and Ottawa, said that’s smart because employers risk legal headaches if they unfairly force changes to people’s working conditions.
„You have to give your employees enough notice and time to make the necessary arrangements to come back,” he told CBC News.
Irwin said his office is being flooded with calls from employees who were hired during the pandemic and who now want to come to the office and learn their rights.
The bad news? For most workers, the employer is in a position to keep people coming back.
„For most employees, if you start working remotely throughout the pandemic … your employer has the right to call you back into the office,” he said. „If your employment contract does not specify that your position is a remote position…your employer has the right to call you back.”
Irwin said working from home during the pandemic could change the lives of workers — many of whom were able to lock in those gains by negotiating a contract when companies were desperate to find employees.
„But now we’re seeing a switch where there’s a lot of downsizing, not a lot of hiring,” he said. „We’re getting into a situation where that foreign exchange is lost to employees.”
Right vs. Privilege
Linda Duxbury, professor of management and strategy at Carleton University’s Spratt School of Business in Ottawa, says the current confusion about working from home is a fundamental disagreement between workers and employers about whether it’s good for the company as a whole or just a development. A benefit that some workers get and others don’t.
„After they’ve worked from home for two or three years, a lot of people think it’s perfect,” he said in an interview. „But many employers don’t think of it as a right, they think of it as a privilege.”
Duxbury says it’s important to remember that working from home is a tipping point for most people Most of them have impossible jobs. But for the rest, both sides are digging holes because neither side agrees on what the goals are.
„Before the pandemic, when employers talked about productivity, it really equated to hours at work, being available 24/7, working, knowing, not saying no, and so on,” he said in an interview.
Duxbury said that employees who are thriving from working from home are putting in the same number of hours as they were before, and their work output is the same, if not higher.
„But employers have changed the definition of productivity. Now they’re talking about creativity, innovation, social connection, culture.”
The problem for employers, he said, is that there is little empirical evidence to support the theory that in-person collaboration is best for business. He regretted going back to the office.
„We need to have a discussion about productivity — not focusing on hours and availability — but focusing on output,” Duxbury said.
„Oddany rozwiązywacz problemów. Przyjazny hipsterom praktykant bekonu. Miłośnik kawy. Nieuleczalny introwertyk. Student.