The Shifting Workplace: Hybrid, Remote, & In-Person Work

By January 12, 2022 Advisor, Blog, Consumer, News
woman working at desk at home using laptop, holding baby on her lap

The COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably shifted our world, changing how we live and interact with people. One aspect of our day-to-day life that has also pivoted for many Canadians has been the way we work.

For many workers who can perform their job in a digital space, remote work scenarios became the new reality as a measure to safely distance employees during the pandemic. According to a study from Statistics Canada, more than 30% of employees did most of their work at home between April 2020 and June of 2021. Compare that number to 2016, when only 4% worked from home, which signifies a considerable shift.

As we navigate and adapt our working styles to the worst of the public health crisis, many employers are left wondering whether their workplace should be pivoting back to in-person arrangements or if hybrid or remote work environments should become the new norm in a post-pandemic environment.


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How COVID-19 Supercharged Remote Work

With nearly a third of the workforce working remotely, employees could examine what office life meant for them. Workers got a glimpse into a workday without a commute or conversations around the water cooler and, for some, the freedom and comfort of never having to change out of their pajamas!

What all these changes have added up to is employees craving more flexibility. At the same time, there is a counterpressure from employers trying to retain top talent, maintain oversight of employees, and ensure productivity remains high.

As public health guidelines shift amid rising vaccination rates and Canadians feel more comfortable assembling, there is tension between those who want to return to the office and those who don’t. Some businesses are unsure how to appease their talent and maintain a cohesive, collaborative workplace.

We’re diving head-first into this debate by examining three work models – in-person, remote, and hybrid models – and sharing the benefits to employees and employers.

Please remember that these changes are relatively new and that this data reveals people’s initial reactions and feelings towards a significant shift in workplace dynamics. Some of these sentiments may change as workplaces learn to better adapt to new working models. As an employer or employee, it’s up to you to decide which model offers the most benefits to your current situation.

The Remote Workplace

Remote work means working fully from your home or another desired location. There is no need to live close to an office and brave the elements or traffic on your daily commute. Not all workplaces can switch to a fully remote model, but about one-third of Canadian workers experienced this form of work at the outset of the pandemic.

The biggest worry for employers is productivity, given the limited oversight of their employees, but workers report the opposite. According to a survey from last year, most remote workers report being as productive at home as they were in the office. One-third of those surveyed felt they were more productive working remotely.

The movement to a remote working arrangement is not without drawbacks for employers. The same Statistics Canada report revealed that 35% of respondents, especially managers, worked longer hours.

Working Remotely
Pros Cons
  • Flexible working hours
  • Some workers feel more productive
  • Fewer distractions and workplace conversations
  • Possibility of facilitating childcare and eldercare
  • A greater feeling of autonomy
  • Eliminating commuting time and expenses
  • More free time
  • Freedom to live in the community of your choosing
  • Potential tax write-offs


  • Lack of interaction with co-workers
  • Difficulty accessing some work-related information
  • Not having an adequate workspace
  • Difficulty with internet speed
  • Onboarding as a new employee may feel challenging
  • A challenge separating personal and work spheres can lead to working longer hours
  • Employers may not support remote work or may not have a remote-work strategy

The In-Person Workplace

An in-person workplace involves going to the office every day. The pandemic challenged this traditional work model and forced many employers to adopt a formal structure for remote work to keep their employees safe.

Initial data suggests that about 20% of remote workers prefer to work most or all hours in the office. The main reason to work outside their home is a lack of productivity in a remote scenario. This desire to return to the workplace was especially true for teachers, with 54% expressing interest in getting back to in-person school, three times higher than workers in other sectors.

Working In-Person
Pros Cons
  • In-person team building and interactions
  • Networking
  • Promotions may be easier since you’re more visible
  • Some may feel more productive in the office
  • A clear line between work and life


  • Commute every day
  • Less flexibility
  • Less autonomy
  • Office distractions
  • Expenses for lunch and coffee
  • Should live reasonably close to the office

The Hybrid Workplace Model

A hybrid model involves employees going to the office a percentage of the time and spending the rest of their time working from home. It is a flexible model that could translate to a fixed number of days per week or visiting the office on an ad-hoc basis for important meetings or check-ins with the team.

41% of Canadian workers who pivoted to work-from-home arrangements during the pandemic indicated that they would prefer working about half of their hours at home and the other half in the office. The hybrid working model makes these preferences a reality, allowing these workers to enjoy the conveniences of working from home while enjoying the benefits of a social, collaborative working environment.

Hybrid Work
Pros Cons
  • Balance of childcare and having an office space away from home for deeper focus (without family distractions)
  • Limited commuting
  • Feelings of autonomy
  • Some visibility in the office
  • Some interactions with colleagues


  • Employers may not have the technology to manage some employees at home and others in the office
  • Lack of a commitment to a remote model and investing in collaborative digital tools and software
  • Challenges making a hybrid model seamless
  • A disconnect between in-office and remote employees

The Future of Work

The pandemic drove the massive shift to a remote-working model. The next steps in the evolution of the workplace will be more intentional and purpose-driven.

Employees are gaining a deeper understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of working outside the traditional office. Employers are learning how to balance the needs of the business while maintaining working arrangements that help retain and attract valued talent. That calls for continued collaboration between companies and workers to determine what approach best serves their unique situation.

The important thing is to be open and adaptive as everyone navigates these new shifts. Many employees have finally adjusted to the transition to a remote working environment after more than 18 months of working from home. Expect that they may not be willing to jump back into a fully in-person arrangement just yet. Conversely, as an employee, understand that the business may have suffered throughout the pandemic and that your employer may be eager to have you back in the office. Be open to working together to develop a mutually beneficial arrangement. Change takes time, and any successful model – whether remote, hybrid or in-person – will only be successful if it is built upon communication and feedback about what is working well and what could use some work.

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