Along with the adaptability Canadians have shared between many virtual calls and remote meetings, an important conversation about workplace structures has emerged in recent years. Companies have not only managed to survive the alternative work measures imposed by the pandemic, but many have discovered the unforeseen benefits of remote and hybrid work. Is the future of work in sight or has it already begun?
“The pandemic just sped up the conversation about evolved labor standards and what the future of work might look like,” says David Boone, chief executive of Staples Canada. “Businesses were already looking for new ways to keep employees engaged and productive.” In partnership with the Angus Reid Group, Staples Canada conducted an online survey among a representative sample of 1,010 employees and 505 employers within Canada to produce the Future of Work Trends Report. The result is a detailed portrait of Canada’s workforce interested in flexibility, work-life balance, and workplace structures that regenerate productivity.
in discussion with Canadian businessBoone shares key findings from the Future of Work Trends Report, what it means for Canada’s small businesses, and the tools they need to set themselves (and their employees) up for success.
Why is now such a pivotal time for the future of work?
The pandemic served as a catalyst, driving the conversation around where, when and how we work. As we continue to adapt to new work norms, we see that some companies still lack a clear plan for how they work in the future. Being flexible and finding the right combination of office work versus hybrid work is a real balancing act. Additionally, The Future of Work Trend Report found that 65% of respondents are currently working fully remote or hybrid.
Is hybrid work here to stay?
The short answer is yes. Whether a business is operating in a hybrid model or its clients, it’s safe to say that most will require some flexibility regarding workspace and protocols. Hybrid work isn’t just about the number of days in the office versus at home; it’s about the ability of an organization to have the protocols in place to support hybrid work, through things like virtual meetings and workplace setups. It is also about flexibility in working hours, with 70% of respondents stating the importance of flexibility with different work models.
What role does productivity play in defining the future of work?
After getting used to working from home without interruptions, 50% of employees worry about being distracted at the office and losing productivity, something that employers underestimate. People want to work smarter, not harder.
How is Staples approaching productivity in the midst of the future of work?
Home office setup has a huge impact on productivity and many employees get by without employer support. A key finding from the Report was that a quarter of hybrid and remote employees describe their workspace as just adequate or subpar, and are less likely to have basics like a dedicated desk or adequate lighting. Additionally, 55% of employees are missing an ergonomic chair or desk. the ErgoCentric Collection at Staples is a solution designed to provide adequate support for healthy work spaces.
Based on the findings of the Future of Work Trends Report, what are the most pressing issues? about small Canadian businesses and their employees?
Respondents to Angus Reid’s survey told us that only 35% of employers had communicated clear guidelines for remote and hybrid work beyond 2022. This number was a huge wake-up call for us as we think about how we serve consumers. and the companies that depend on us.
How does Staples support Canadians in their home offices?
Our business priority at Staples is to provide hybrid work solutions that include ergonomics, wellness solutions, and connectivity adoption and mobile solutions. Ultimately, our goal is to provide them with the tools they need to succeed. Canadians can find a wide selection of home office equipment including technology, adjustable ergonomic chairs and dedicated desks so they can feel well supported and productive wherever they are working.
Outside of products, Staples also has the expertise to support Canadians in hybrid work. We brought together a group of experts to be part of our Work Anywhere Advisory Boardthat helps us provide valuable information and practical solutions for the new world of work.
How do you suggest that small and medium-sized businesses embrace flexibility in the office?
Leaders of all organizations, regardless of size, must work with their employees to identify what they really need in terms of incentives and not implement a one-size-fits-all solution. At Staples, our goal is to understand what our employees will need to return to an office environment that allows for collaboration and connectivity with colleagues and teams. Flexibility, a dedicated workspace and provision of dual monitors are just some of the solutions we support.
Can incentives really make a difference?
Based on our findings, the top three factors that drive employees to the office include special benefits, flexible days in the office, and having a dedicated space free of distractions, which represents an area of opportunity for many employers. While only about half of employers currently offer incentives to encourage a return to the office, there is certainly a demand for it.