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COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, but it likely won’t stay that way

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A majority of Canadian companies have adopted remote work environments for their employees as well as offered appropriate supports, a new survey has found. (File)

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    CALGARY — Before the pandemic hit, few Canadian companies implemented plans to allow employees to work remotely.

    Now, more than three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, that idea has surged to the point where two-thirds of Canadian businesses have at least 60 per cent of their workforce working remotely.

    That’s just one of the findings in a report sent out by the Conference Board of Canada this week.

    The research group published its findings in its new Remote Work Support Survey, saying that before COVID-19, most companies had less than 20 per cent of their workforce working remotely.

    The Conference Board says it’s not clear when workers could be called back into the office, but forecasts indicate it will happen sometime.

    "Many employers are still considering their long-term plans, but early results suggest that many employees will eventually be called back to the workplace," said Allison Cowan, director of human capital, in a release.

    The report also found companies have done quite a bit to help their employees transition into their new workplaces. More than half of the companies polled in the survey said they allowed workers to take home work resources such as computers, office supplies and even their chairs.

    The Conference Board says this means remote work is likely to continue, at least for the foreseeable future.

    remote work, covid-19, working from home, computer

    About 40 per cent of employers have also offered reimbursement or an allowance for the costs incurred as a result of the remote working conditions, the survey showed.

    Reimbursing their employees expenses was the more popular approach, the Conference Board found, but those organizations offering payments either went with a lump sum allotment between $100 and $500, or monthly allowances of up to $300.

    When it comes to how things will look in the future, the poll found 55 per cent of companies will keep their employees working remotely until at least a vaccine is found for COVID-19. However, the majority of businesses say they are considering their approach to how employees will make their way back into the office.

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