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Several factors need to be weighed when considering a hybrid working model

Linda Duxbury says the type of job, type of industry and type of employee all need to be considered
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One expert says hard conversations need to take place as companies plan their return to office.

At this point, some employees have been working from home for more than two years.

Linda Duxbury from Carleton University's Sprott School of Business has been examining data from 26,000 participants throughout the pandemic's remote work experience.

She said over 60 per cent never had the benefit of working from home, but when it comes to the other 40 per cent, there's no clear cut consensus on what is wanted from a potential hybrid model.

"One-in-four want five days at the office, one-in-four want total home, and about one-in-four want two days at the office, so it's some days at the office and some days at home," she told CityNews Halifax.

She said managers and executives need to have hard conversations to figure out if a hybrid model should be implemented at their work place.

"You're going to have to say under what conditions does it work; for what type of jobs, for what type of industries and what type of people," Duxbury explained.

She said if the job involves more of a team environment with a lot of interaction and brainstorming, some time in the office will likely be necessary, but if it's a more solitary position requiring writing, thinking and concentration, that person may be better off spending more time at home.

"Then look at the people because some people are more attracted to working from home than others," she said.

If an employee has a difficult time shutting off work at the end of the day because they have an office in the home, that could quickly lead to burnout. On the other hand, others struggle with personal distractions while working from home.

"The people who want to return to the office want structure, they want to know when do I start, when do I stop and when is it fair to contact people. People at home want complete and utter flexibility to do the work when it's most convenient," Duxbury said.

"And the other thing is, we are obsessed with ... work location flexibility, but our data says a lot of people want work time flexibility," she added. "They're quite happy to work through their lunch and be done at the end of the day a lot earlier. We keep forgetting those options."

Duxbury has been telling employers, unions and employees to be prepared to compromise because nobody will get 100 per cent what they want.

"I would suggest all executives talk to their managers, then all managers have to talk to the people who report to them ... but you've got to start with analyzing the jobs, then you bring the people into the discussion," she suggested.

"And then don't forget, in Atlantic Canada, you've got a lot of businesses that rely on people showing up ... they go 'all the discussion is about those privileged people who got to work from home,' they want some discussion on them."


Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the editor for CityNews Halifax.
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