64% of downtown Toronto employees say they’re comfortable returning to the office: survey

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WATCH ABOVE: A recent survey suggests a majority of people who work in Toronto’s downtown core are ready to return to their offices. While some business are figuring out how to make the transition back, other companies say they plan to continue to leverage a work-from-home strategy for their employees. Katherine Ward reports. – Mar 2, 2021

Working from home is a newfound skill many people have spent the past year refining amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

When it comes to getting back to the actual office, however, a new survey suggests many people who work in Toronto’s downtown core are comfortable returning.

According to the survey conducted by Nanos for the Toronto Region Board of Trade, 64 per cent said they are comfortable returning to work.

When it comes to some of the reasons, 16 per cent cited they like the energy and culture, 14 per cent said convenience was top of mind, and 13 per cent said they liked the amenities available.

As for potential challenges: 23 per cent said they had no concerns about going back, 13 per cent said traffic was a worry, and 12 per cent said COVID-19 was a concern.

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Read more: How working from home is changing Toronto’s landscape

Ashley Dresser works in the downtown core as a criminal lawyer. She said when working from home started last year she was excited, but now she’s ready for a change.

“I was happy about it in the beginning because it forced me to take a break, now I’m sick of it,” she said.

Dresser said one of the things she misses most about everyone working at the office is the ability to easily consult with others. “It’s really important to be able to bounce ideas off of your colleagues, and to discuss cases, so that’s missing when you’re at home, it’s not the same to get a quick answer.”

Some companies have said they plan to take a cautious approach when it comes to reopening up their office doors. Eric Huang, CEO of Advanced Analytics and Research Lab, said he is excited to bring his team back together, but wants to do this slowly.

Read more: Coronavirus: How working from home is changing the physical landscape in Toronto

“We will probably do it stage by stage, bringing people in maybe one day a week to start, and then maybe try to ramp that up,” Huang said. “I am not really sure if I will bring the full team back full time until we have all the vaccine roll out.”

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Other CEOs said the pandemic has permanently shifted the way they plan to run their businesses.

Erin Bury, CEO of Willful, said her company won’t be returning to the downtown core in the same capacity, and will continue to have employees working remotely. For them it’s a win, because they don’t need as much space.

“We will keep that smaller office long term,” Bury said. “No matter how many people are working for us only a few might be in on a day-to-day basis so it will be big enough even for a growing team.”

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