More than a quarter (29 per cent) of Canadian employees say they want to reduce in-office work, with three-quarters (76 per cent) citing saving time and money from less frequent commuting as top reasons for doing so, according to a survey by Robert Half Canada Inc.

The survey, which polled more than 1,300 hiring managers and 1,100 employees, found more than a quarter (28 per cent) of workers said their No. 1 concern with going back to the office was their commute.

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“Cost of living has gone up, so the ability to pay for daycare, gas and to care for vehicles is now considered a perk for work,” says Sandra Lavoy, regional vice-president at Robert Half Canada. “A lot of people gave up daycare, parking or their bus pass, and they aren’t prepared to spend more money to do their job. Some of them moved out of the city where they could buy more affordable homes and they’re willing to go into the office once in a while, but not every day.”

Despite this concern among workers, Lavoy says her recruitment team is seeing fewer employers hiring for fully remote working positions anymore compared to at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, just eight per cent of hiring managers said their team is working fully remotely, compared to more than half (54 per cent) who said their team has adopted a hybrid-working arrangement and 38 per cent who said employees have returned to the office full time.

Among employees, half (49 per cent) said their team has adopted a hybrid-working arrangement, while more than a quarter said they’re working completely in-office (28 per cent) and a fifth (22 per cent) said they’re working fully remotely. Lavoy says this discrepancy between the number of employees and hiring managers working remotely could be due to the in-person nature of company leaders’ roles.

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“As a hiring manager, you need to be present for mentoring or coaching and available for projects. Leaders need to be present, and, while it doesn’t mean they have to be in the office every single day, working fully remote and not connecting and engaging with an employee in most companies is not always [conducive] to the demands of their roles.”

Meanwhile, a separate survey by Robert Half Canada found roughly two-thirds (65 per cent) of employees said they have more effective relationships with colleagues whom they’ve met in person versus those they haven’t met. More workers said they’re comfortable collaborating in person (47 per cent) versus virtually (34 per cent) and two-fifths (40 per cent) of remote workers said they’re concerned about being visible for project opportunities and promotions.

Lavoy says she’s also beginning to see some disparities in project and career growth opportunities between remote and in-office workers, which she says stems partially from the fact that many leadership opportunities require some in-office component. If remote workers aren’t able to make it into the office a set number of days, they may miss out on those opportunities, she adds.

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