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Hybrid work here to stay: Canadians are more productive, happier and wealthier

But there’s room for improvement for employers, says new Cisco research

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The future of work is hybrid, as a majority of Canadians say it has made them happier, healthier, more productive and even thousands of dollars richer, according to Cisco research.

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According to Cisco’s Hybrid Work Study, nearly three-quarters of Canadians say they’ve seen improvements in work-life balance by splitting their time between home and the office. And the benefits of this newfound flexibility have extended to all aspects of people’s lives.

“Our data shows that work has changed forever, to the point of improving employee well-being, improving work-life balance, improving performance,” said Shannon Leininger, president of Cisco Canada, in an interview.

Flexible hours eliminated daily commutes and 61% said they saved four hours a day because of it. This made it easier for people to connect with loved ones, improving overall well-being, according to the study.

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Canadians also save money — and lots of it. According to the survey, working from home part-time resulted in savings of $11,000 per year for the average person as they avoid commuting and spend less on gas, public transit and food.

The hybrid workers also said their newfound flexibility made them healthier, giving them more opportunities to exercise and eat better.

Mental health is also seeing an improvement, with 77% saying their stress levels are improving or staying stable under their new flexible hours.

But it’s not just employees who are reaping the benefits of hybrid working. Productivity is also on the rise, according to the study. More than half of workers said they thought they were more productive on a hybrid schedule, and 50% said they produced better work.

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Put it all together and hybrid working and the flexibility it brings is no longer a benefit, but something that workers expect from employers in the future. Indeed, more than half of workers said they want to maintain hybrid working in the future, compared to 35% who want to stay strictly at home and 10% who prefer a full return to the office.

Employers will need to understand this if they want to retain staff, Leininger said.

If we don’t allow people to work the way they want, they will leave companies

Shannon Leininger

“Hybrid is here to stay and we all have to accept that,” she said. “If we don’t allow people to work the way they want, they will leave companies.”

Other studies confirm this. In a study released by Cisco Canada in October, 77% of Canadian employees said flexibility was a key factor in keeping them in their jobs. A study by Microsoft Corp. conducted earlier this year also suggested that workers would quit if they felt their welfare was not a priority at work.

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Still, the transition to hybrid working hasn’t been easy for many companies. Only one in five Canadians think their employer is “well prepared” for the realities of hybrid working. Employees point out that inclusiveness, engagement and greater flexibility need to be improved. Wider access to technology platforms for networking also needs to be improved, according to the study. Trust is another problem that appears in organizations. The Cisco study found that only 59% believe their co-workers can be trusted to be productive while working from home.

This highlights the challenges managers face in uniting their teams working in separate locations. Leininger said organizations are missing an important element in their quest to achieve a good hybrid culture: leadership development.

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“A lot of the transformation that needs to happen moving forward needs to happen with leaders and helping them learn to lead differently in this new environment,” she said. “I don’t know if everyone knows how to do this. We need to focus and redouble our efforts on the leaders and help them find their way.

Communication and experimentation will be key, Leininger said, to help companies build trust among their staff. This means organizations will need to be open to error and also open to hearing employee feedback. Companies will need to ask staff what their expectations are, and then be prepared to try new things based on those conversations.

“Experimentation is going to be very important moving forward to maintain work-life balance. It’s about listening, giving your employees choices about what works for them…and then d ‘really trying things out and being flexible with how we approach work,’ she said.

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Despite all this trial and error, a hybrid way of working could very well offer the best of both worlds for employees and employers alike. Workers will be able to maintain the flexibility and work-life balance they had working from home, while enjoying the benefits of being with colleagues in person, which Leininger says has been “joyful” for workers. teams in his organization.

This means that leaders will have to be intentional in creating reasons for people to come to the office, instead of asking them to come only to waste their days in virtual meetings.

“Organizations really need to rethink what hybrid working looks like in the future. Part of that is flexibility and experimentation, and how to fit that into your environment. And then also making sure leaders are leading with empathy , as well as that flexibility,” she said.

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