Governments and businesses in the National Capital Region are beginning to set return-to-work timelines

A return to office life looms on the horizon as infections of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 decline, large corporations prepare to welcome their employees back to the National Capital Region in the coming coming months.

For many businesses across Canada, at the height of the pandemic, sending staff home to work remotely has become a habit. Andrew Dagenais was one of those workers, in one of those companies, and he enjoyed the benefits.

“About six months into COVID, when everything was happening, I stayed home for about four months,” Dagenais says. “When you’re at five, you’re at five and you don’t have a commute and save gas, so that part is amazing.”

Now Dagenais has returned to the office and says that while it hasn’t always been apparent, there are some reminders of its benefits.

“Socialization alone,” he says. “And a certain sense of the norm too. I mean just stopping by Tim Hortons on the way home, those are the things you don’t think about and miss.”

Lisa Pepper, community manager at Co-Workly, explains that in recent weeks there has been an increase in demand for the shared office space that the company rents to individuals.

“Certainly people are feeling a little crazy, what we usually hear is that some people are okay with working from home, but not all the time,” Pepper says. “People are starting to rethink their working day and the way they work and what works best for them and one of the little things we don’t even think about when we’re working from home is that there’s no one there. who’s watching over you. Knowing that you’re sitting next to someone working and concentrating, it encourages you to work and concentrate, and at Co-Workouts there’s a great mix of skills, so there there’s a lot of networking, innovation and sharing of ideas that can happen.

As Omicron’s fears fade, big companies are motivated to bring their workers back.

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce plans to bring back Canadian staff who worked remotely to the office starting March 21. Most of the company’s Canadian employees who are now working remotely will return to the office on a hybrid basis, said Sandy Sharman, group leader. people, culture and brand, in an emailed statement Tuesday.

“Our hybrid model will allow our team to benefit from the flexibility and productivity that can be achieved by working remotely, while combining this with the benefits of working in person with colleagues to further strengthen the culture and collaboration,” Sharman said.

National Bank of Canada will allow its offices to be filled to 50% capacity from February 28 at the latest, a spokesperson for the institution said, adding that the company will adapt its hybrid model more widely in April. .

In Quebec, provincial office buildings will soon be filled, along with their municipal counterparts as the city of Gatineau opens offices later this month.

However, the federal government has yet to release a timetable for the return of its employees, and in Ottawa it is the city’s largest workforce, with around 150,000 workers.

All those empty buildings can mean empty pockets for industries that rely on government personnel.

“It is imperative that large companies bring their employees back to the office,” said Michelle Groulx, executive director of the Ottawa Business Improvement Areas Coalition. “They’re basically the supporters of the small businesses around them and small businesses rely on them, so they’re a key part of the economy.”

Dagenais is happy to return to work in the office, but also appreciates the flexibility of his employers to be able to work from home if necessary.

“It’s been pretty seamless so I don’t see that being a problem and it’s nice to know the option is there.”

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