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Planning for the Future of Flexible Work in Canada

Eric House - Aug 18 2020
Published in: Mobility
As research shows that Canadian workers have embraced remote work, employers will need proper planning to ensure that they’re prepared for the future.

As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, companies around the world have had to shift the way they work to keep their employees safe. For many employers, providing the option for or requiring remote work is the optimal solution. With some countries slowly returning to normal business operations, there remains uncertainty around how we work in the near future. For example, research from Canada shows that while employees have embraced these new changes, not all employers have committed to a future with flexibility.

Canadian Workers Have Embraced Remote Work

VMware Canada conducted an online survey of 989 working Canadian residents from May 12 – 14. Nearly nine in 10 (87%) of the respondents who began working remotely for the first time due to the pandemic believe it will have a long-term affect on how we work. They’ve embraced remote work in a big way, with fewer than two in 10 new remote workers wanting to only work in an office environment in the future. Further, six in 10 (59%) prefer remote work more often than before, and 26% of workers don’t want to return to they way they used to work before the pandemic.

That’s not the only study revealing major changes to the way Canadians might work in the future. Research from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute in June revealed that among those working remotely, only thirty-six per cent say they will likely go back to their place of work when COVID-19 concerns subside.

Uncertainty Surrounding the Future of Remote Work – and How Mobility can Help

The VMware Canada survey also revealed that not only are Canadian workers embracing remote work, six in 10 (62%) do not think employees should be expected to return to the physical office space now that its been revealed that many roles can be performed remotely. At the same time, only seventeen per cent of employers have articulated a clear return to work plan.

Is the future of work in Canada going to be distributed and virtual? Andrew Caprara, Senior Vice President, Strategy & Business Development of Softchoice, a VMware partner, thinks so, telling VMware Canada that “Employers across Canada need to take action now to build more resilient workforces that are technologically equipped to operate effectively in remote settings.”

Mobility will likely play a major role in helping to manage the distributed workforce. Mobility is not only equipped for physical movement of talent but filling in critical roles as well – even the remote ones. Understanding the needs of the employer, recruiting the best talent, and taking the proper steps to fill that role in a remote way is a challenge that mobility professionals can, and must, tackle.

Mobility is equipped to handle the tax compliance issues for employees working remotely, too. In the U.S., remote work can trigger unintended tax implications for employers and employees, such as dual tax liability and increased internal costs for tracking employee movement for payroll purposes.

Employers in Canada, which consists of 10 provinces that have local tax and employment law standards, will also need to understand provincial laws where their employees are working. Mobility’s role in helping to understand and manage employer and employee tax implications for employees in varying locations will be crucial for remote work’s future.

At the same time, employers will need to create plans for their company’s remote work future, taking into consideration the possibility that the future of work may be completely remote. Harvard Business Review recommends that employers weigh the needs of what the company wishes to achieve. Understanding the technologies in place (or not yet created) that you’ll need for workable systems, the many resources you’ll need from policies to people, and the rules and metrics that will need to be created are key to planning for a remote future.

Whether the future is going to be completely virtual remains to be seen. Nevertheless, its likely to play a major role in business operations going forward, becoming the preference of many employees who have taken to remote work’s flexibility. Whichever path a company chooses as the pandemic subsides, proper planning can ensure that employers and their employees are prepared for the future.