It is sunny, warm and the breeze is blowing gently through your new satellite office location, however there is trouble brewing. The weather will change, your patience will lessen and office claustrophobia will set in. #workfromhome

Canadians are beginning to question whether return to the office is eminent or are the harsh realities of COVID – 19 going to remain a deterrent to a return to the traditional workplace. For many, the indecision comes from the delays in bringing a mass produced Vaccine. According to LinkedIn’s latest Workforce Confidence Index, which is based on a survey of over 5,000 members in June and July, only about 20% responded positively to a return to the traditional office.

This from a report from Riva Gold, an editor at LinkedIn daily news which also stated that:

  • Some 63% of respondents cited exposure to others who aren’t taking enough precautions as a primary concern about returning to a physical workplace.
  • Professionals working in education were the most likely to say they would return willingly, although many expressed a feeling of obligation.
  • Canada’s overall Workforce Confidence Index score dipped slightly in July after a spike in June, falling to +31 from +35 previously.

A handful of other workers would consider a part-time return however you have to be comfortable in your own choice.

This brings us to the next question of how patient will companies be with employees who don’t want to return. Is there going to come a period of time before it could negatively impact your progress within a company? According to the Government of Canada website, Jun 24, 2020 “The right to refuse work for health and safety reasons. Under the Canada Labour Code, employees have the right to refuse to do a job if there is reasonable cause to believe that the job presents a danger to themselves or another employee. Employees must be at work in order to legitimately refuse to work.”  It is a bit ambiguous if you don’t have the confidence in your work environment or you are not comfortable going back.

What new protocols would you look to have in place before you would return to your workplace? There is no denying that social distancing, face masks, constant hand washing and a greater sense of your surroundings are a path to better health but until there is a vaccine and the confidence that the virus has been defeated, a return to the “new” yet remarkably similar to the old “reality” is not forthcoming.

Pandemic or not, you need to understand what options employers have with respect to requesting your return to the workplace. According to employment lawyers Muneeza Sheikh and Stuart Rudner who were questioned by the CTV for a May 7th web story, if precautions are taken, an employer has every right to expect you at your desk in a reasonable period of time.

“If work is available, you are expected to be there,” Rudner said. “And failure to attend for your regularly scheduled work hours [will be seen as] basically abandoning your job.” Rudner added there may be exceptions to the rule.

“Most provinces have job-protected leaves in place if you have COVID-19-related reasons for not going back into work,” he said. “If you are immunocompromised, you may need the accommodation of your employer. Or if the workplace is unsafe, and you can prove that it is unsafe, then you may not have to go back to work.”

Alexandra Mae Jones staff writer at CTV goes on to explain many of the other complications and issues that have further clouded the issue. Many of which I believe will be challenged at all levels as we progress. Things like Doctors notes, reaction to lax safety procedures, not enough physical room to distance or difficulties in actual configuration of the office are things to be considered and weighed. However, concludes Sheikh, “While [employers] do have a legal obligation to accommodate a valid reason for not being at work, whether it’s medical leave, or whether it’s family status related … what [employers] don’t have an obligation to do is accommodate someone’s fear and anxiety about getting COVID-19 in the workplace,”   

What will the pressure on employers be if they feel they have done everything they can to be safe? Sheikn continues the thought “But if a workplace has the proper precautions in place, workers won’t be able to remain home without being penalized by employers. “If [physical distancing] is not possible, and sometimes it’s not, you’re going to take whatever steps you can,” Rudner advised employers. “Constant cleaning, providing soap, providing hand sanitizer, providing masks potentially, gloves.”

Without a clear indication of the labour laws and how they will relate to a post COVID world, cases and companies will have to will have to be settled on an individual basis.

What do you need to set up the perfect home office? Here are some suggestions in no particular order:

1)            Space to stretch out. Many people are confined to a smaller living space without adequate room to spread out all your work Accoutrements.

2)            Proper ergonomic chair to maintain proper posture and comfort.

3)            All the basic office supplies that you would reach into a drawer for.

4)            Business level equipment. Laptops, printers, shredders, MFP copiers just to name a few and the space to put them.

5)            Robust enough Internet.

6)            Ability to change your prospective. Can you get up and walk to the printer or position yourself for a different view.

7)            Human interaction. Talking to Fido grows very old very fast.

8)            Live Video blowback. You can only do so many meeting over the internet.

9)            Reduced attention span with a difficulty focusing on work for long periods.

10)         Doing household chores instead of your tasks.

A few benefits you would hate to give up going back to the Office.

1)            Not having to get dressed up for work

2)            The walk from your bed to the kitchen and your computer.

3)            No more warm home cooked meals ready on time

4)            No Transit or Traffic

5)            No Make-up, Brushing your hair, Face Shaving

6)            Being able to shamelessly eat a quart of Ice Cream on a bad day.

7)            Laundry not done

8)            Not having to see everyone

Only time will tell. Need technology for your home office? Reach out to us today!

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