More than half of employers expect workers back at work in 6 months

A survey shows that many planning to permanently retain or expand remote work options

As economies slowly reopen across #Canada as the #pandemic subsides, almost nine in 10 (86 per cent) #employers say they have started to plan for #employees to return to #work.

More than half (53 per cent) expect to have all of their staff back in the primary #workplace within six months, finds a survey by the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) in Ontario.

However, more than three-quarters (81 per cent) are planning to permanently retain or expand remote working options.

“HR professionals have enabled their organizations to adopt a fundamental mind shift in terms of the viability of remote work, even as teams navigate some major challenges. An astounding 70 per cent of respondents report their perceptions of remote work have changed since the pandemic,” says Louise Taylor Green, CEO of HRPA.

A wide array of programs are being put in place, including modified work schedules (25 per cent), flex time (19 per cent) and rotating shifts (18 per cent), finds the survey of 1,127 respondents.

Encouragingly, 89 per cent plan to recall employees who were temporarily laid off as a result of COVID-19.

Restructuring, focusing on safety
More than one-third (38 per cent) of organizations are planning permanent restructuring, including changes to their business model, organizational structure, policies, new workflows, reduction of physical workspaces, downsizing, and the ways people interact, finds HRPA.

“HR professionals have been front and centre in supporting their workplaces and employees through the most significant workforce disruption in modern times. Workplaces will fundamentally change and the ‘new normal’ will require a total reset in HR practices and policies,” says Taylor Green. “The velocity and complexity of change for those in a leadership role is unprecedented. This period of change has been a remarkable demonstration of professionalism and the value HR professionals bring to organizations.”

More than four in five (81 per cent) of respondents say they have been very involved in their organization’s return-to-work planning process. This includes physical changes to the workspace, new infection prevention and control measures, changes to shift schedules and hours of work, along with increased supports for mental health, and toolkits and resources for leaders.

For 80 per cent of organizations, sign-off will be required on any new or updated policies or procedures related to health, safety or hygiene in the workplace prior to returning to work, finds the survey. And nearly all (95 per cent) say they plan to implement or expand the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers.

Of these, 91 per cent say they are prepared to discipline employees for failing to comply.

And three-quarters (76 per cent) of the respondents say they are planning to make special arrangements to assist employees as schools and child-care centres remain closed and summer camps are not available.

By Sarah Dobson

Jun 05, 2020

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