How The Global Pandemic Changed Our Jobs & The Way We Work

How The Global Pandemic Changed Our Jobs & The Way We Work

The pandemic caused a massive shift in the modern-day work environment and the job market.

Since 2020, COVID-19 has caused a global ruckus, impacting personal and professional lives. In Canada, as we’re fighting through the pandemic’s fourth wave, millions of Canadians remain uncertain about their jobs, while many have reached a mutual certainty: the workplace needs flexibility.

According to Statistics Canada, 32% of Canadian employees worked from home in January 2021. This work arrangement forced Canadians to re-evaluate their priorities, whether it’s spending more quality time with the family, picking up a new passion project, or switching careers.

Simply put, working Canadians discovered a flexible work-life balance that they are unwilling to give up.

The Hybrid Work Model

Neil Drew, Director for Winchesters, said, “As more companies head back into the office, lots of people aren’t prepared to go back.” In February 2021, a survey by Statistics Canada reported that 80 per cent of respondents want to work at least half their hours from home once the pandemic ends.

“It may be a tug of war between employees and employers,” said Paul Young, Procurement Manager for Winchesters. “Most people are very keen to not give up the flexibility that they’ve been given.”

Many companies started shifting into a hybrid work arrangement this fall. This arrangement allows employees to work remotely while coming into the office on a part-time basis, satisfying their need for a healthy work-life balance. Companies can also benefit from adopting the hybrid model by cutting down costs due to downsizing office spaces, especially for offices located in expensive cities like Toronto.  

Simultaneously, employers would be wise to adapt their roles into a hybrid work arrangement, because during these times, many candidates know what they want: a chance to work at home to savour some type of healthy work-life balance. Every candidate is asking, “How often do I have to go to the office?”

Will Hybrid Work Be Permanent?

Companies remain uncertain as to whether the hybrid model will stay put.

“A lot of companies don’t have a plan yet,” Paul said. “However, there’s no right or wrong answer to it. While most people enjoy working at home, there will be those that like to go back to the office.” 

Adrian Harrison, Taxation Manager for Winchesters, feels that there are more candidates who’d like to remain working at home, full-time. “At a stage where people have families, not many of them are looking to work at an office full-time.” He expects candidates looking for new opportunities to question why they have to go back to the office full-time.  

There are some rumblings around the workplace, with many working Canadians crossing their fingers for a permanent hybrid arrangement. A recent survey found that 1 in 3 companies believe working at home will become a conventional phenomenon. 

However, Neil has a different opinion on the matter.  “It’s naive to think that we’ll stay like this forever, when in fact, it hasn’t been.” 

His sentiment aligns with Goldman Sachs’ CEO, David M. Goldman, who regarded remote work an “aberration” during a conference in February. “I do think for a business like ours, which is an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture, this is not ideal for us. And it’s not a new normal,” he said.

David’s statement is rooted in the belief that in a remote work setting, younger employees and entry-level staff don’t have the direct interaction with a mentor, missing integral management and feedback that is essential to early career development. 

Simultaneously, the office provides more than a desk inside a cubicle; it’s a social environment. Some people look forward to chit-chat at the water cooler. While many Canadians would prefer working from home to spend more time with their kids, others actually like being at work for the social environment. 

In an essay written for NY Times, John Zavitsanos—Co-founder of Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing— said the city’s lifeline depends on its daily commuters, which reflects in his decision to re-open his office.

“We wanted people driving to work and supporting our many energy-sector clients and stopping for coffee and lunch to keep the city’s local economy going. We felt some moral obligation to help our city thrive again.”

Companies may also have to face another looming threat for their offices, in the form of ’The Great Resignation’.

The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation is a term coined by Anthony Klotz to describe people quitting their jobs or changing careers, which was encouraged from the uncertainties brought on by the pandemic.  

As a result, many people quit their jobs, following their desires to switch careers, pursue fulfilling work, or start retirement early.  

So, what does this mean to candidates seeking a new opportunity? 

Taking a Look at the Job Market

Neil predicts several things that may happen to the job market as people leave their current jobs. “There will be a massive shift, where people will be looking for jobs. In turn, this will impact employers and how they recruit.” 

The recruitment process is expected to gain speed in the fourth quarter and next year’s first quarter—assuming a fourth wave remains tame to allow schools (and other services) to remain open.

From October into March of next year, Winchesters anticipates multiple job vacancies to appear, whether it’s due to people leaving their current companies or candidates seeking new career opportunities.

Furthermore, more jobs may be created in sectors related to hospitality, retail, and manufacturing. As these sectors cope with economic loss due to the pandemic, they’ll be recruiting for new hires after losing employees from layoffs in the previous years. However, these sectors primarily involve working at the office, which may not be ideal for job seekers looking for flexibility and hybrid working arrangements.

Job seekers can rejoice: the job market may be wide open for Canadians seeking new opportunities or major career changes. 

“There’s going to be lots of opportunities for people seeking them,” Neil said. 

Share this post