The future of work: how to support remote and hybrid teams

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By Michelle Micuda, president, Staples Professional

The pandemic has completely upended the way Canadians approach work – where it takes place, how we meet, when we log on, and off – and much more. In partnership with Angus Reid Group, Staples Professional surveyed office employees and senior decision-makers at businesses of all sizes across Canada to better understand the current and future landscape of work.These critical insights were unveiled in the Future of Work Trend Report with the aim of helping organizations as they navigate this new world of work.

As Canada’s largest business-to-business supplier, we work with mid-size and large organizations to ensure their needs are met. The study we did with Angus Reid Group to inform the Future of Work Trend report had some surprising revelations about the Canadian workforce’s passion for flexibility, work-life balance, and a workplace structure that regenerates productivity. Below are a few notable key findings. 

• Most remote/hybrid employees feel good about what their employer has provided to allow them to work effectively from home.

• Employees have a wide variety of home office setups, and while not all have a dedicated office, most rate their working-from-home setup highly. Better equipped employees are happier with their work-from-home setups overall, in particular those who say their setup is ‘good’ or ‘perfect’ are much more likely to have a dedicated desk, adjustable chair or proper lighting.

• Stipends for equipping home workspaces are not common, with only one-in-five employees having received one. Furthermore, only half of those receiving a stipend say it covers everything they need, leaving one-in-ten employees overall having received sufficient funds to fully equip their home office.

• Improved equipment is the top thing remote/hybrid workers say would improve their experience working from home. In particular, those rating their employers lower in terms of providing them with home office setups are substantially more likely to say they need better equipment for their home workspace.

• The most common items employees are missing to make their home workspace more usable are more comfortable/ergonomic chairs or desks – over half of employees say they could use one of these. Meanwhile, ergonomic assessments and basic training on ergonomic setups are seldom provided by employers.

Workplace productivity is an indicator of business health and workplace culture: it increases when employees are happy, supported and have the right equipment to perform their work tasks. We highlighted a few strategies below from the report that organizations could adopt to boost productivity.

• Being able to choose what hours of the day employees come into the office.

• Having spaces that meet different needs when they arise, including dedicated office space free of distractions and dedicated collaborative, gathering spaces for connections and teamwork for various sizes of teams

• Having more colleagues in the office on the same day(s).

• Having a quieter overall office environment.

• Better defined structuring of collaboration time while in the office.

• Having dedicated in-office equipment so employees don’t need to bring equipment with them from home.

• Better technology in meeting/conference rooms for communicating with both in-office and remote employees.

We want to help business leaders work with their employees to identify what they really want when it comes to incentives and to avoid rolling out “one size fits all” solutions. Our goal is to understand what it takes for employees to return to an office environment that allows them to collaborate and connect with their colleagues and teams

Today’s employees expect more flexibility from their employers. This means 100% remote roles for some and for others it means working in hybrid environments. For organizations, having flexibility around workspaces and the resources to support that flexibility is very important and below are a few ways employers can support hybrid work.

• About half of employers have offered incentives to encourage employees to return to the office more often; something employees say would be most likely to improve their in-office experience.

  • Incentives offered include:
  • Offering in-office perks
  • Offering flex hours when in the office
  • Creating workspaces in the office that allow for collaboration and culture building is also key to ensuring productivity while at the office. 
  • Creating collaborative settings for varied sizes of gatherings (2,4,10 people) 
  • Settings for casual discussion 

A company’s biggest asset is its employees and productive employees are what make a company successful. However, hybrid environments are a new way of working, so it’s essential for organizations to create a work environment that supports their employees. Whether it means providing hybrid work solutions including ergonomics, wellness solutions or the adoption of connected and mobile solutions at home or in the office, the Future of Work Trend Report will be a useful resource for many organizations to not only understand the sentiments of employees but the different ways they can be supported.

As President of Staples Professional, Michelle Micuda is responsible for leading the Canadian business-to-business organization. Michelle’s focus is on growing the organization by providing an outstanding customer experience delivered by a cohesive team of engaged associates across a wide variety of exceptional products and services.

Michelle holds an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University and an Honours Bachelor, Mathematics from the University of Waterloo. She is also an alumna of Rotman’s Judy Project and Queen’s Workplace Mental Health Leadership Program. Michelle is currently on the Board of Directors of Ontario Great Lakes Goodwill Industries.

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