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New Survey Reveals the Post-COVID Workplace: Flexible Working, Social Distancing & Lots of Anxiety

A new survey commissioned by software company Foko Retail and conducted by Nanos has revealed that the post-pandemic workplace is likely going to look, feel and function markedly — and in some cases completely — different than it has in the recent past.

The survey asked C-suite and executive level decision-makers to share their expectations and concerns regarding staff returning to the workplace. The key findings include:

Managing Employees 

  • 79% of decision-makers predict that flexible working (i.e. employees working from home at least part of the time) will become permanent in their company. 
  • Overall, decision-makers say that their five biggest concerns about their employees returning to the workplace are: ensuring safety of working environment and that proper safety procedures are in place; possible exposure/bringing COVID-19 into the workplace; maintaining social distancing; implementing policies and procedures and ensuring they are being followed; and morale and culture in the workplace/establishing a new normal. 
  • Overall, decision-makers believe that biggest challenges they will face as employees return to work are: ensuring safety of working environment and that proper safety procedures are in place; maintaining social distancing; maintaining productivity; communicating effectively virtually and in new office setup; and retaining good/enough employees.

Health & Safety 

  • 79% of decision-makers feel that their employees are anxious about returning to the workplace. This aligns with a separate new survey commissioned by CTV News and conducted by Nanos, which found that 40% of Canadians say their mental health is worse now than it was in April during the early stages of the pandemic.
  • 31% of decision-makers say that they feel “awkward” communicating with their employees about returning to the office. 
  • Overall, decision-makers believe that the five safety procedures that will be the most difficult to implement are: enforcing social distancing; convincing employees that it is safe to return to work; enforcing the use of personal protective equipment (PPE); managing office capacity; and maintaining cleanliness of shared spaces. 
  • Overall, decision-makers report that the five most important health and safety protocols that they have already implemented or plan on implementing immediately are: providing hand sanitizer to employees; conducting more frequent cleaning of common/shared spaces; limiting the number of employees who can be in a shared space at the same time; limiting the number of employees in the workplace; requiring all employees to wear face coverings.  

Future Plans

  • 50% of decision-makers say that they do not expect their company to reduce the size of their workforce as a result of COVID-19. However, 22% believe that they will reduce the size of their office space (the average anticipated reduction is 34%). 
  • 37% of decision-makers expect all of their teleworkers to return to the office (at least part of the time) in the first half of 2021.  
  • 14% of decision-makers say that none of their currently teleworking employees want to return to the office, and 9% of decision-makers do not expect any of their teleworking employees to ever return to the office. 

Survey Methodology

The survey of 435 C-suite and executive level decision-makers in Canadian companies with 50 employees or more was conducted online. Participants were drawn from a non-probability panel between August 4 and August 12, 2020. Download the full survey report from:

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