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The future of the workplace, 2 years into the pandemic

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Two years into the pandemic, many companies are trying to determine what the future of their workplace looks like. Marney Blunt looks at the big decisions they have to make and what the best fit is for their employees – May 27, 2022

Two years into the pandemic, many companies are trying to determine what the future of their workplace looks like.

Patrick O’Reilly is the president and CEO of Padraig Coaching & Consulting, which provides leadership development to companies. He says the pandemic has certainly changed staff expectations of their employers.

“Some people love working from home, some people hate working from home,” O’Reilly told Global News.

“But at the end of the day, what we know is that work can get done in different ways than it has before, so there’s a lot of expectations of employers now to be more flexible in their work arrangements with their staff.”

O’Reilly says many employers are trying to find a balance between flexibility for their staff and ensuring the company is working together cohesively and collaboratively.

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Read more: City of Winnipeg considers permanent remote working plan for employees

“Now, two years into it, I think a lot of organizations are learning that they need teamwork, they need new ideas that come from people just casually talking together at the workplace,” he said.

“And so there’s a balance that needs to be found. We need people working cohesively together, we also need to be flexible to recognize that some people have come to learn (they) don’t appreciate the commute to the office, they don’t appreciate buying lunch every day, that sort of thing.”

O’Reilly says they’re seeing a mixture of employers continuing with remote work, calling everyone back into the office, and creating a hybrid of the two. He says in some cases, employers have even provided incentives like bonus pay for when employees work from the office, to accommodate for additional expenses like the commute, parking and lunches.

However, he says the most successful situations usually involved a combination of remote and office work.

“From our experience with the clients we work with, the most successful organizations transitioning out of the pandemic are providing some sort of combination of those two things — providing some flexibility to those who want it, but also providing structure to those who need it as well as to the company that needs it,” he said.

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O’Reilly says he believes the office workspace will never look the same.

“I think everything has changed in the working world, for good. We will definitely never be able to easily go back to saying to people, ‘You need to be in the office 9 to 5,'” he said.

“I know there’s a lot of companies trying it right now, I don’t think that’s going to work for very long. People are going to vote with their feet.”

Read more: Remote work has not delivered the climate benefits some firms expected. Here’s why

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ says it’s also hearing from companies that are trying to provide a balance for their employees, bringing them back to downtown office settings while also providing some flexibility.

“We know that people are going to want kind of that flexible schedule and maybe hybrid model as we move forward,” said Pamela Hardman, the director of marketing, engagement and communications for the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.

Hardman says the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ intends to bring back its Rework Space — an outdoor workspace along Broadway — this summer, with hopes it will attract more people working remotely to downtown.

“But we do know based off some recent data from a survey that our downtown large employers are committed to downtown and they want to bring their employees back at least part-time,” she said. “So recognizing that we know that options are going to be really important moving forward for the future of the workplace.”

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