Canadian Manufacturing

Hybrid work expectations differ between employers and employees: Research

The Canadian Press

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Many companies are transitioning to hybrid work schedules from the work-from-home policies that developed by necessity in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For public relations executive Terance Brouse, the office is where creativity flows.

On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, employees at Maverick PR work from the firm’s office — a converted red brick Victorian home in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood.

“We come to the office on the same days because we need a quorum,” said Brouse, the firm’s vice-president of client services. “That’s when the brainstorming and those ‘aha’ moments happen.”

On Thursdays and Fridays, employees work from home on different tasks. “It’s when we put our heads down to focus on writing and getting work done,” he said.


Many companies are transitioning to hybrid work schedules from the work-from-home policies that developed by necessity in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet how to strike a balance between office life and remote work remains an enduring challenge for many businesses nearly three years after lockdowns upended how many Canadians work — one that’s made more difficult by the differing expectations between employers and employees.

Some organizations offer workers the freedom to choose which days they go into the office.

Others have a set number of office days, with attendance varying from informal guidelines to rigid mandates.

“Everyone is trying to find that happy medium or that hybrid work sweet spot to make this really work,” said Maria Pallas, director of strategy and optimization for Lauft, a network of on-demand workspaces.

“But everyone’s not always on the same page.”

Indeed, new research has uncovered a disconnect between employee work preferences and the expectations of employers.

A survey by Cisco Canada released on Feb. 16 suggests that while employees increasingly expect flexibility, employers continue to see hybrid work arrangements as a perk.

The poll, conducted by Angus Reid in December, found that 81 per cent of Canadian workers want a flexible work arrangement — and are willing to leave their current job to get it.

In fact, flexibility emerged as a top priority among workers polled, second only to salary.

But the survey found that the majority of employers were tightening hybrid work policies and ushering in mandatory office days.

The research illustrates a gap between employee and employer expectations as work is redefined in the post-pandemic era.

“At the highest level, there’s satisfaction overall with hybrid work amongst both employees and employers,” said Shannon Leininger, president of Cisco Canada.

“But when we dig into the numbers, there’s a tension between the expectations of employees and employers,” she said. “Employers feel like hybrid work is a benefit. Employees feel like it’s expected.”

Workers seem to be resisting the transition back to offices for two main reasons: time and money.

Canadians who work from home save an average of 65 minutes a day normally spent commuting, research published last month by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research found.

The Cisco survey found that women are more likely than men to value flexibility, with 59 per cent of women saying flexibility and choice in how, when and where they work was a top priority, compared with 51 per cent of men.

Research by Cisco released last year found that employees saved $11,100 annually on average working in a hybrid model.

Experts say finding the right hybrid work schedule ultimately comes down to what works best for both an organization and individual workers.


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