While just 12 per cent of Canadian office workers say working entirely at a physical workplace is their ideal scenario moving forward, 43 per cent say they’d be likely to look for a new job if their current employer mandated a full-time return to the office, according to a new survey by Amazon Business Canada.

The survey, which was released as the coronavirus pandemic marks its second anniversary, also found only half of respondents who had shifted to remote work due to the pandemic had returned to working from their office before the Omicron wave struck in late 2021. About a third (31 per cent) of those who had returned said Omicron sent them back to working exclusively from home/remotely, while another 29 per cent said it increased the amount of time they worked away from the office.

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“It’s clear that the role that the physical office plays in the day-to-day work and satisfaction of employees has changed dramatically during the pandemic,” said Nick Georgijev, country manager for Amazon Business Canada, in a press release. “Canadian employers will need to consider not just how and when to bring their employees back to the office, but if they should and how to set that talent up for success from anywhere if they don’t return entirely.”

The survey also found 57 per cent of respondents said they’d prefer to either split their time equally between in-office and remote (27 per cent) or work mostly remotely (30 per cent). When asked what would entice them to return to working in the office full time, respondents cited salary increases, more flexible working hours, more vacation and better benefits.

Indeed, flexible working hours and the ability to work remotely were also among the top five important factors that Canadian offices workers would look for in a new job, more important than workplace culture, opportunities for growth, advancement or training and development and in-office perks.

Read: 55% of working Canadians value flexible work arrangements over career progression: survey

The survey also found 32 per cent of respondents that shifted to remote work during the pandemic said they received a stipend to purchase home office equipment and supplies to help them work from home. Only 31 per cent from that group said they believe those stipends will continue moving forward. For those who received a stipend, a quarter (27 per cent) received $500 or more, while 26 per cent received less than $200.

“Employers need to reconsider everything about their physical working spaces to meet the changing demands of their current and future workforce. That includes everything from their real estate footprint to procurement to technology and supplies,” said Georgijev. “Those that adapt best and quickest will have a strong advantage, particularly if they provide their teams the means to thrive while working remotely.”

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