Struggling to return to the office? You’re not alone, new study shows

A new study is highlighting the dynamic of Canadians returning to the office and the struggles of getting back to what was once the norm for workers.

A global study by Unispace found that employers are having difficulty convincing their people to work from the office but are overlooking a willingness from employees to return in a four-day working week.

According to the data, aptly named Returning for Good, a Unispace Global Workplace Insights report, half of Canadian workers are in the office four or more days a week, but only 31 per cent like being in the workplace regularly.

The research was conducted between April 3, 2023, and April 14, 2023. The survey included 9,500 employees and 6,650 business leaders from across 17 countries.

Employers and workers appear to be at odds, study shows

In a traditional office setting, the report found that 41 per cent of employees currently “hot-desk” or share a workstation with other employees. Of those surveyed, 79 per cent indicated they would be more inclined to head into the office if they were given their own assigned desk.

Further, just 31 per cent of Canadian employees like the current ratio of office and home working, while 50 per cent of workers are in the office four or more days a week.

There also appears to be a disconnect between employers and their employees regarding values and needs in Canadian workplaces. The study found that more than half (55 per cent) of the surveyed employees feel reluctant to return to the office, above the global average of 51 per cent.

The main factors include a lack of privacy (34 per cent), lower levels of productivity (29 per cent) and feeling they are less effective in a busier working environment (28 per cent).

This is where the notion of a three-day weekend, rather than the conventional two, was factored into the study. According to the report, 87 per cent of employees polled said they were interested in trialling a four-day workweek (Tuesday to Friday).

The federal government has adopted various hybrid work models since the COVID-19 pandemic.

On December 15, 2022, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat announced adopting a standard hybrid model throughout the federal public service, allowing federal public servants the flexibility to telework two or three days a week, or 40 or 60 per cent of their regular schedule.

“The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we think about how Government of Canada employees work and the types of workplace accommodations that can best support managers and employees in providing critical services to Canadians,” the Government of Canada notes on its website.

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