Out of 3.4 million Canadians were told to work from home early in the Corona virus lockdown. 3/4 of those were still working from home in August according to Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey.
Having hired back workers over the 5 months since April, employment in Canada is still 1.1M workers less than pre-COVID employment. That’s a huge decrease from the 3 million people who were laid off shortly after the pandemic hit.
What might also be surprising is that of the people working from home, the majority would like to keep working from home at least part of the time. According to a study commissioned by ADP Canada, 45% of workers would like to work remotely at lest 3 days a week and another 15% would like to work remotely 1 or 2 days a week.
Concerns of Workers
Workers raise a number of reasons for wanting to maintain some aspect of remote work:
- They have anxiety and fear of catching the virus from their work place. If not properly addressed, this fear can induce stress and impact worker productivity, increase sick leave, and undermine workplace morale.
- Childcare and elder care obligations are a concern for many, especially if there is a new or localized outbreak which means they need to take care of their children or aging parents on their own.
- Younger workers aged 18-34 believe that remote work is the work place of the future and are eager for their employers to implement it now.
Employers generally have an obligation to accommodate the family care needs as well as physical, mental, and emotional health issues and concerns of their employees. Being attentive to employee concerns is an important aspect in retaining quality personnel through these difficult times.
Benefits for Employers
There are also benefits to employers in considering a more formalized policy of remote work. According to Gallup, 80% of office workers now work in virtual teams. Remote work is the norm for 70% of traditional workers.
Not every workplace can accommodate remote work, but for those who can, the savings of letting people continue working from home (and encouraging others to consider it) can be substantial:
- A VoIP phone system can allow your employees to stay connected, use their business phone number to call customers from their home or cell phone, and cost about 40% that traditional business telephone systems.
- Contrary to prevaling myths, remote workers are generally more productive when working from home. This is attributed to:
- fewer workplace distractions,
- shorter commutes means people are more inclined to start work from the moment they would normally leave their home until the time that their normally return home, rather than when they get to or leave the office.
- because they want to work from home, they are very conscious about protecting that entitlement and don’t want to let their work teams down.
- Commercial real estate lease rates and utilities cost about $11,000 per employee. Configuring a few offices into a “hotel” configuration with a VoIP system that employees can use when they are in the office can result in a huge improvement to a business’ bottom line.
Most businesses have two general challenges to supporting remote work plans. One is management’s ability to monitor, direct, and trust the efforts of remote workers. Atlas has a wealth of experience in managing virtual teams and would be happy to share some tips with businesses concerned about their abilities in this area.
The other challenge is technological. Allowing teams to communicate and function remotely while protecting the business’ data and other assets is not easy but it doesn’t need to be expensive. Key components of a hybrid work environment include:
- A Digital Workspace Solution so that employees can access their email, documents and files, calendar, and other key corporate systems from anywhere. The solution should also support instant messaging, video conferencing, file sharing, and personnel statuses (e.g. Who’s away today and who works late?)
- A VoIP system so that phone calls appear to come from the business and not a individual’s home or cell number. VoIP allows workers to be grouped into “Ring Groups” for incoming calls so that customer inquiries are properly managed. Calls can be handed off to the most appropriate available person.
- Security. Working from home brings new risks of viruses, ransomware, and phishing attacks without the protection of a corporate environment. There are a number of low-cost solutions including DNS Firewalls, identity management systems and two factor authentication, anti-virus software, and patch management.
If your business is interested in supporting employees who want to continue to work from home and improving your financial bottom line but you don’t know where to start, reach out to us. We’re here to help.