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Engaging the Canadian workforce post-pandemic

By Josh Olson, Global Head of Experience Solutions Software Sales

As Canada’s workforce emerges from the pandemic, organizations have worked hard to build flexibility and digital agility into their organizations, and they are understandably eager to usher in the next chapter of their post-pandemic strategy.

To assist in these preparations, we thought it would be useful to update our 2020 survey on remote work and provide some insight into how Canadian employees are feeling about the changes that have taken place. This year’s data highlighted just how quickly Canadians adapted to remote work, and how that experience has changed their views on the role of the office. 

While organizations deserve credit for providing the support necessary to make their employees successful, there are also some notes of caution on employee communication and engagement, as many employees remain unsure about what their future workplace looks like, and what expectations for them will be.

The role of the office and the future of work

A big finding in our survey was that 79% of Canadians feel that the role of the office has changed, and 74% believe that employees shouldn’t be expected to work full-time from an office now that the technology has been proven, an increase of 15% over the past two years.

This finding tracks to their own individual preferences as well, with two-thirds of those currently working remotely, hoping to continue working remotely most of the time. Notably, a full 38% of respondents wanted to work entirely remote, a big increase from only 11% in May 2020.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, companies who offer increased flexibility will have a clear advantage in a competitive labour market. 70% of Canadians enjoyed working from home more than they expected, and this flexibility will be a critical consideration when searching for new opportunities or deciding to stay at their current organizations.

Providing the tools to ensure productivity

A big reason that views on the office have shifted is that Canadians are now much more comfortable working remotely. In 2020, only half of respondents (52%) believed they had the right technology, and only 33% felt they were more productive working from home.

Today, 68% of Canadians feel they have the technology they need, and a full 63% of Canadians say that they are more productive working from home.

Companies stepped up to provide employees with the technology needed to do their work remotely, and they are reaping the benefits. However, in most cases, organizations have only upgraded to technology solutions that were already available years ago.

In essence, employees have moved from the horse and buggy to a Model T. This has made them much happier and more productive, but they remain unaware how much more is possible. Organizations that engage a true digital optimization solution, will make the equivalent leap from a Model T to a jet airplane – increasing productivity and satisfaction exponentially.

It is time to communicate a new workforce strategy

One area of caution in our survey, is that only 40% of Canadians feel that expectations around a return to the office have been clearly explained to them by their employer. This lack of clarity is particularly acute for those over 55, where only 28% feel that the workplace strategy has been clearly articulated.

As hybrid and remote working conditions become the norm, it will be important to communicate expectations effectively to the entire workforce, including remote, hybrid and in-person employees. 52% of Canadians say that their employer has communicated that the workforce will be more flexible – but a lack of clarity could hurt employee engagement and morale.

A word of advice here, “be transparent!”

Teams appreciate leaders who are honest about expectations and share as much information as possible. But how you communicate is equally important. A forthright and honest email that gets buried and is only seen by half of your staff can’t have the intended effect.

VMware Can Help

Over the last few years, organizations globally have experienced a series of market and regulatory shocks. As leaders look to improve digital agility and support the workforce of the future, VMware can help.   

A couple of specific solutions that are relevant to the findings in the survey are as follows:

  • Workspace ONE allows employees to sign on to any device with their credentials, while also enabling corporate resources and allowing them to act on workflows, communicate with teams, and, most importantly, work in a more personal and empowered manner.  It also allows IT teams to leverage Artificial Intelligences and Machine Learning techniques to anticipate what the employee needs before they need it.
  • For employee engagement, Workspace ONE Hub Services helps organizations engage employees through a secure intranet that not only removes digital friction, but ensures more eyeballs see your updates. By leveraging the built-in security, privacy and notifications frameworks, you can call attention to company-wide, regional or departmental updates relevant to the employee. Hub can be a powerful tool, centralizing how your employees not only get updates, but how they can act swiftly on them, through digital links and connections that are already enabled.
  • To improve employee recruitment and make a seamless transition to the onboarding experience, we have partnered with Cravey, to build the Action Logics Candidate Experience in conjunction with Workspace ONE. The solution transforms Workspace ONE Hub app into a candidate app that anticipates what candidates need, when they need it. The result is a seamless experience where the candidate has access to a secure platform to receive transparent communications and upload their personally identifiable information like shirt, pants, shoe sizes, home address and more. Through automation, you can remove much of the manual work for the hiring manager and provide a brilliant, secure and GDPR compliant first impression to the new candidate. The solution will then seamlessly turn the new employee’s Workspace ONE Hub app into their “digital work unification” app and continue to provide curated HR pathways and digital nudges for the employee throughout their employment journey at the company,  helping to maximize the Employee Lifetime Value.

If you’d like to talk about the findings of the survey, or how VMware can help instill that flexibility and digital agility, please reach out at experience@vmware.com as I’d love to chat.

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