Since the coronavirus pandemic upended traditional work environments 2020, we at Tech Talent Canada have interviewed experts, analyzed reports, and spoke at length about the myriad aspects of remote and hybrid work—from its pros and cons to the impacts that reach workers, executives, and even physical office buildings.
Since then, workers have been grappling with shifting conditions while waiting for dust to settle.
A new report from EY tilts the hybrid work conversation away from post-pandemic framing, suggesting that new challenges on the horizon are set to write the next chapter for tech talent in Canada.
“The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a work realignment already in progress, and transformed our understanding of success, purpose and value,” the 2023 Work Reimagined Survey reads, adding that “Dramatic changes in the ways we work and think about work have caused a tidal shift in how we view our priorities and prospects in daily life.”
“We find ourselves still rocked by a world in flux, including in the ways we’re working,” EY states.
Focusing on the “next normal,” the EY report strikes at the heart of what hybrid work is shaping to be outside of pandemic parameters.
The world’s response to Covid-19 was lightning burst out of a bottle; there’s no going back. Moving forward, the EY report identifies a sentiment that the “next normal” is going to borrow from the past, present, and future to maximize the wellbeing, productivity, and retention of top tech talent.
“Organizations are no longer purely driven by the lingering consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic,” EY explains. “Employers now see their challenges through the cyclical lens of economic, labour and geopolitical pressures, requiring workforce strategy to more fully move beyond any one business function.”
Hybrid work may be a permanent fixture but that doesn’t mean its implementation is necessarily simple or easy for leaders to execute and maintain. However, data shows if employers want any hope of attracting and retaining the best talent, such work flexibility must be on the table.
With “little appetite for returning to a full work schedule in a physical office,” it’s up to individual companies to discover which definition of “hybrid” works for them.
For knowledge workers, both employers (47%) and employees (37%) show the greatest preference for either two or three days of remote work per week. Experts this year called three days in the office the perfect workweek for many organizations.
Given a choice, however, half of employees would prefer no more than one day in the office per week, and 34% would like to be fully remote, according to EY.
Further complicating this calculation is employee sentiment shifting based on factors such as industry, region, age and gender.
For example, women are more likely to prefer fully remote work (49%), while men show little difference in preference between hybrid work and fully remote work (42% and 43% respectively). Another example is that the life sciences industry is more likely to prefer fully remote work (52%) compared to employees in the energy industry (37%).
The one area where everyone aligns is that just about nobody wants to work full-time in-office: just 9% of females, 15% of males, and 12% of North Americans overall share that preference.