More than half (54 per cent) of Canadian employees said they’d leave their employer if current flexibility in schedule and work location isn’t extended post-coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey by EY Canada.

“Whether you know — and accept — it or not, your employees have been forever transformed and walking back this sea of change isn’t an option,” said Darryl Wright, partner in people advisory services at EY Canada, in a press release. “Employees have embraced the flexibility that tech-enabled remote working has made possible. And they don’t expect it to stop in the aftermath of the pandemic. This is a critical moment for collaboration among all senior executives . . . to reimagine a model that supports both a safe transition and physical transformation to the workplace.”

Read: Half of employees placing more value on flexibility than hours, location since pandemic: survey

Even when offered the option of having onsite amenities at an assigned office, 67 per cent of survey respondents said they’d still prefer to control where and when they work, with respondents being 1.4-times more likely to opt for having control over working hours.

“While early data suggests employees are just as productive working from home and they value newfound flexibility, the jury is still out on the long-term effect of working remotely — including what’s been lost from the disappearance of in-person interactions, including coaching and mentoring,” said Wright. “Considerations need to be given on how you configure office space, how you encourage certain work practices and how you can better support employee physical and mental well-being. Acting on these will be critical to building a strong organizational culture with a competitive advantage.”

The survey also found that three-quarters of respondents rated job satisfaction at least a seven on a scale of one to 10. And a further 48 per cent said they believe their company culture has improved since the beginning of the pandemic, with the utilities sector showing the highest positive change and those in transportation and health care rating among the lowest.

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“Organizations will need to continue leveraging the reach of technology and the gains of flexibility to cultivate teaming and a culture that supports innovation and productivity, in both physical and virtual environments,” said Wright. “Because while nearly half have seen a positive change in culture, there’s still the remaining half that have seen no or negative change — and that needs to be addressed.”

Part of that culture shift is the expectation that employers be transparent, take a stand and actively enable health and safety, noted the release. Indeed, nearly two-thirds said they expect their company to require vaccinations of all employees before returning to physical workspaces.