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Just over half (56 per cent) of Canadian senior managers said they’ll expect their teams to be onsite full time once restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic completely lift, according to a new survey by Robert Half Canada Inc.

While a complete return to in-office work is the preference of survey respondents, almost a third (29 per cent) said they’ll allow employees to divide their time between the office and another location. In comparison, only 13 per cent said they’ll give staff the complete freedom to choose where they work.

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There are varied views on where white-collar employees should work once the pandemic ends. The managers most likely to favour flexibility (with the highest percentage allowing employees to be remote part or full-time) work in technology departments (48 per cent) and large organizations with 1,000 or more employees (53 per cent).

In addition, managing hybrid teams has challenges for organizations of all sizes, with almost a quarter (22 per cent) of surveyed managers saying the top challenge to hybrid work is trusting employees to get their work done. That was followed by 21 per cent that said communicating effectively with team members was challenging in a hybrid environment and 20 per cent that said finding time for team development is difficult. Gauging workloads, helping staff avoid burnout and effectively recognizing and rewarding employee accomplishments were also top challenges for 18 per cent of mangers in a hybrid model.

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While the majority of managers are keen on a full return to the office post-pandemic, employees are more bullish on a hybrid model. Earlier this year, a separate survey by Robert Half found just over half (51 per cent) of employees said they prefer a hybrid arrangement and 33 per cent currently working from home due to the pandemic said they’d look for a new job if required to be in the office five days a week. Additionally, another survey by the firm found 30 per cent of workers feel much more productive when working remotely versus in the office.

“As companies develop, implement and refine their office re-entry plans, managers need to carefully consider employees’ preferences,” said David King, Canadian senior district president of Robert Half, in a press release. “In today’s candidate-driven market, workers have options and providing continued flexibility will be critical to keeping valued employees on board well into the future.

“Although successfully adopting a long-term hybrid approach requires significant commitment and collaboration from teams across the organization, this effort will help to foster a strong corporate culture while supporting companies’ efforts to attract and retain top talent.”

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