A new study conducted by one of the world’s largest providers of flexible workspaces suggests that HR leaders in Canada view the hybrid working model as an essential part of their toolbox when it comes to recruitment, hiring, and retention.
This is a paradigm shift versus pre-Pandemic levels, data from International Workplace Group shows.
Before 2020, only 22% of companies offered hybrid working to its employees. By the end of the pandemic, that number had skyrocketed to 72%.
“Companies and organizations had no choice but to adapt, and so they did,” Wayne Berger, CEO of IWG Americas, observed for TechTalent.ca recently.
It appears the adaptation is likely permanent in nature.
According to a recent IWG poll of 250 Canadian HR leaders, 91% now use hybrid working to recruit talent, with 81% saying it’s a “very to extremely effective” recruiting tool.
“Over the past few years, HR professionals have come to view the hybrid work model as both a powerful tool for recruiting talent and a necessary measure for keeping that talent happy and productive,” stated Berger. “The current study backs that up convincingly.”
The most popular hybrid work model in companies is setting a schedule of in-office days and work-from-home days, which is set by the employer and remains consistent each week.
“Not only is today’s workforce demanding flexible work arrangements from employers, but a growing number of companies are recognizing the wide-reaching benefits of hybrid working—for their employees and for themselves,” said Berger.
As a result of hybrid working, HR professionals have seen an improvement in employee satisfaction (67%), work-life balance (63%), and mental health (50%), IWG’s report states.
The findings, compiled by Mortar Research, reinforce how the growing adoption of a flexible work environment impacts HR professionals, with a common theme shining through: hybrid work is a benefit to catching the eye of new employees and a key component to retaining talent.
The Perfect Workweek
Hybrid work is not be confused with exclusively remote work, it must be noted, though there is still some of that model lingering from lockdown days.
“For many, exclusively working from home can lead to major burnout and isolation,” Berger warns.
Plus, it can become formidably challenging for leadership and HR teams to foster company culture and collaboration when entire teams are geographically distributed.
On the other end of the spectrum, five days in the office—formerly a commonplace expectation—is now frowned upon by talent and HR pros alike. Few tech talent prospects worth their salt are eager to submit to five days in the office in 2023.
HR executives therefore “firmly believe in hybrid working and think it’s critical that employees spend some time in the office for face-to-face collaboration as part of the model,” the report states (emphasis mine).
This is based on both anecdotal and hard data: an overwhelming majority of HR leaders have observed a direct correlation between productivity, wellness, and the number of days spent in a physical office, according to IWG.
Based on this compelling data, the report goes as far to suggest the optimal hybrid work week: “HR professionals believe that three is the ideal number of in-office days.”
Adapting the Office
“Workers aren’t simply hoping for hybrid—they’re demanding it,” Berger wrote for TechTalent.ca. “It’s clear that in Canada’s current labour market, employers who proactively seek to strengthen their retention strategies—which includes offering a robust hybrid work plan—stand a far better chance of attracting and retaining top talent.”
This “robust plan” should include an office space that aligns with a hybrid environment.
With a hybrid work strategy, no one is at their office desk every day anymore. And thus in-person time becomes even more vital to collaborating creatively and cultivating corporate culture.
For these reasons and others, the physical office space must adapt to the new normal, the report posits.
“It’s important to design spaces that are inviting and flexible, where people can work together and be creative,” explained IWG CEO Mark Dixon recently. “Hybrid working means that when colleagues do come together it is for collaboration, so they need more spaces for meeting and working with one another.”
Wellness Perks are Potent
In addition to all of this flexibility, candidates are also seeking employers that offer wellness benefits.
77% of HR execs have experienced applicants turning down a job because of a lack of wellness benefits, according to Mortar’s poll.
Based on this and more, there may be strong return on investment with wellness-based perks that employers should be aware of, IWG says.
For example, companies that do implement wellness benefits say 92% of employees utilize them, data shows, suggesting the perk is popular with staff.
Overall, HR leaders agree that hybrid working leads to a more productive (95%) and healthier (94%) workforce. Almost all (99%) HR executives say a flexible environment leads to happier, more loyal employees.
In that sense, hybrid work models inherently contribute to employee wellness to some degree, though the report urges employers to go above and beyond with wellbeing-focused offerings for staff.
In response to this evident permanency of hybrid work in Canada, IWG stated recently that it is continuing on an aggressive growth trajectory toward “doubling its network in Canada over the next three years.”
The company aims to create spaces which are ideal to work in during talent’s non-office days.
New locations are planned in Cambridge, Ontario; Sherbrooke, Quebec; Richmond, BC; and Truro, NS, “to provide a workplace close to home, giving employees a better work-life balance and time back to spend with their friends and families.”
IWG’s network coverage includes 3,500 locations across 120 countries.