Hybrid work environments are a growing trend across Canada, but how are they being used and managed? To give office managers insights on hybrid workplace trends, we surveyed over 1,000 employees who work in a physical office space at least on occasion.
In this article
- Most Canadian hybrid workers go to the office 2-3 times a week
- Nearly a quarter of employees have mandatory in-office days
- Over half of surveyed employees in Canada have personal desks
- Close to half of surveyed employees are very satisfied with workplace security
- 3 takeaways for managing a hybrid work environment
The hybrid workplace is a work model that combines elements of both remote work and office work, offering options for where work can be done. The share of workers in hybrid arrangements has more than tripled since January 2022, showing evidence of a trend that’s far from over.
In this environment, the question that office managers should be asking is, ‘How do I manage a hybrid work environment that accommodates every employees’ needs?’ To answer this question, we surveyed 1,021 part- and full-time employees working at least some days from the office.
In part one of this research series, we explored the advantages and disadvantages of two types of workspaces: coworking spaces and private offices. We also provided tips on how to manage offices with the aid of facility management tools that give space managers an overview and facilitate more control over facility usage. In part two, we’ll look at overall hybrid work trends and take note of the amenities, policies, and preferences of Canadian employees in 2023.
For the full methodology, scroll to the end of this article.
Most Canadian hybrid workers go to the office 2-3 times a week
When considering how to set up your workplace, the way hybrid employees in Canada use their physical offices could be informative. According to our survey, a combined total of 69% of surveyed hybrid workers go to their workplace two to three times a week.
Some businesses might think they need to adopt a rigid return-to-work strategy to stop absenteeism, however, this may ‘indicate a disregard for employee well-being’, according to a Toronto Star article. To add support to this argument, as few as 4% of surveyed hybrid workers went to the office less than once a week. On the flip side of this argument, 5% went to the office five times a week or more, showing that hybrid work models are more commonly practised in moderation rather than in extremes.
Tips for attracting workers back to the office
For those wanting to boost in-office attendance, take steps to improve the employee experience in the hybrid workplace. Nearly a third of employees who go to the office less than five times a week (32%) said perks like free snacks and coffee would motivate them to come in more often.
The following top incentives to increase employee attendance were related to the physical space offered. 28% said having private or isolated areas to work in would motivate them to come more often to the office, while 27% said wellness facilities like a gym or relaxation room would have the same effect. Including such spaces in the physical arrangement of the office could serve to reduce distractions as well as support mental health in the workplace.
Nearly a quarter of employees have mandatory in-office days
The ‘return-to-office’ trend after COVID-19 restrictions temporarily closed some workplaces was perhaps influenced by employers who don’t want their investments in physical office space to go to waste. As part of the trend, some businesses have made attendance mandatory, at least occasionally: 23% of surveyed employees in Canada report having company-wide mandatory in-office days. The same amount of surveyed employees said their job department also enforces mandatory in-office days.
Requiring employees to come to the office at least sometimes can be valuable for creating social connections and building trust at work by fostering in-person peer communication. In fact, many employee respondents prefer in-person communication when it comes to meetings with managers and co-workers, as is shown in the graph below.
Tip for office organizers: Respondents showed mixed preferences for where they’d like to host certain types of meetings. Meetings with external parties like suppliers were less likely to be preferred in office settings. However, all employees are different, and if visitors are allowed to drop by the office, visitor management software can help monitor facility safety.
Wherever the meeting is to take place, be sure to offer employees the tools they need to connect successfully, whether it’s meeting room booking software or virtual meeting tools that get the job done.
Meetings aren’t the only aspect of work that employees enjoy using the office for. Many workers also enjoy being at the office for its effect on their productivity: a combined total of 81% reported moderate to very high levels of satisfaction with their productivity levels at the office.
A well-designed and maintained physical workplace can enhance productivity by reducing distractions. Such spaces can provide a reliable and peaceful environment that empowers employees to get their best work done. Employees were particularly happy with three aspects of the physical office: the cleanliness (with a combined total of 87% of survey-takers either moderately to very satisfied), the facilities (with 83% satisfied), and the comfort (with 80% satisfied).
Over half of surveyed employees in Canada have personal desks
Once office managers get the pulse on the facilities their employees will use most, providing them and empowering employees to use them is the next step. The most commonly available amenity for survey-takers is on-site parking (58%), which is a no-brainer; actually getting to the office is quite a necessary part of the ‘return to work’.
Other commonly accessible workplace facilities include:
- Personal desks (reported by 57% of respondents)
- Free coffee (51%)
- Small meeting room(s) (51%)
- Large meeting rooms(s) (44%)
- A full kitchen (39%)
- Individual offices (35%)
Personal desks and individual offices are high on the list of accessible workplace facilities. In fact, amongst the countries who participated in this survey —Australia, Canada, France, the U.K., and India— Canada is one of the leading countries providing in-office personal spaces to employee respondents, topped only by India.
This insight, paired with the fact that only 20% of surveyed Canadians say their company practices digital desk-booking, suggests that some workplaces might not be taking advantage of the hot desking or desk-sharing trend. This can help lower space requirements and office-related costs.
Tip for office organizers: Although hot-desking can be a controversial topic for some, this practice gives added flexibility to your workforce. Employees can organize themselves as they like and exercise control over their own work environment. In addition, employers using desk booking software can identify unused spaces, allowing them to assemble meeting spaces or breakout areas when needed.
Whatever your workplace’s desk policy may be, work with the IT department (as well as utilizing IT asset management tools) to ensure that all necessary equipment is available at every workspace.
Close to half of surveyed employees are very satisfied with workplace security
A large number of employees are also satisfied with their workplace’s security, with 46% stating they were ‘very’ satisfied with this aspect. Over half (54%) reported the use of security cameras at their current office, and 48% say their workplace requires a keycard to access facilities.
Physical security tools aren’t the only ones that could be having an impact on employee satisfaction. A combined total of 83% of surveyed employees reported very to moderately high levels of satisfaction with their workplace policies as well.
When it comes to security and privacy policies at work, the most commonly applied rule is that computers should be locked when employees are not at their desks (reported by 54% of respondents). Following this, 47% of respondents have a policy for reporting security incidents, which is a vital step in any company’s incident response plan.
Workplace policies in offices in surveyed countries
Issues of security go beyond digital practices. Establishing appropriate behavioural guidelines in the workplace can also help employees feel safe and secure at the office.
Employees in our survey reported that their workplaces have the following policies in place:
- A code of conduct policy (reported by 70% of respondents)
- An anti-harassment policy (68%)
- A safety policy (such as a fire safety or other emergency plan) (66%)
- An IT policy (53%)
Amongst all countries surveyed, Canada leads in workplaces that have codes of conduct and anti-harassment policies in place. This could be a testament to the comprehensiveness of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety’s resources, which should be incorporated into your company’s policies and perhaps distributed to employees via training programs or intranet software.
3 takeaways for managing a hybrid work environment
Managing the physical space for an entire workforce is no easy task. It’s even more complicated when the workforce in question is a hybrid one, as hybrid work environments are often in flux. To help keep our list of recommendations top of mind, we’ve compiled a list of takeaways:
- Office attendance seems more likely to be somewhere in the middle instead of always high or low. Entice your employees to visit more by providing the perks that matter most to them —after asking via employee surveys— and empower them to book the resources they’ll need to perform at their best with digital booking tools.
- A changing workforce will have changing workplace needs. Oversight of IT asset management can help ensure there’s enough technology supply to meet employee demand.
- Physical safety at the office is just as important as cybersecurity. Just be sure that employees are in the loop about workplace policies, perhaps using by using different training tools to streamline the onboarding process.
To collect the data for this study, Capterra conducted a survey in August 2023. To do this, a sample of 5,041 people were surveyed in the following countries: Canada (1,021), Australia (1,018), France (992), India (992), and the United Kingdom (1,018). The criteria for selecting participants are as follows:
- Between 18 and 65 years old
- Must be a part- or full-time employee
- Must use a computer to always perform daily work tasks
- Must work in a company with more than 1 employee
- Must not work fully remotely