British Columbia

Hybrid work-from-home model likely in post-pandemic world, says B.C. business council

Jock Finlayson, senior policy analyst with the Business Council of British Columbia, says more people could be working from home more often post-pandemic.

'I think we are not going to go back to the pattern seen in 2019'

A senior policy analyst with the Business Council of B.C. says more people could be working from home more often post-pandemic. (OPOLJA / Shutterstock)

If you have are dreading the idea of returning to a long morning rush hour commute in a post-pandemic world, then the future could work out in your favour.

Jock Finlayson, senior policy analyst with the Business Council of B.C., says he expects many employers to adopt a hybrid work-from-home model once the threat of mass COVID-19 exposure in the workplace has passed. This model, he said, would see people working from home at least some part of the week.

"I think we are not going to go back to the pattern seen in 2019 when two to three per cent of employees on any given day were working from home," Finlayson said, speaking Monday on CBC's On The Island.

Not only is staying home attractive for some workers, Finlayson said it can also be to the employers' benefit as well if they can downsize office space and reduce their overhead.

"I think we are going to see some downward pressure on lease rates and rents in central business districts," Finlayson said. "There may be a bit of a day of reckoning for the owners of these assets."

'Zoom fatigue is real'

Finlayson does have some concerns about a post-cubicle workplace though.

Without people congregating together, he says companies could lose out on the innovative ideas and brainstorming that he says can be better in person than when done via video conferencing.

Virtual meetings are also exhausting for many who have known nothing but for months.

Researchers at Stanford University considered what it is about video conferencing that causes such mental exhaustion. (Girts Ragelis/Shutterstock)

Researchers at Stanford University recently considered what makes videoconferencing so tiring. Their work was published in the journal Technology, Mind and Behavior and pointed out four factors:

  • The unnaturally prolonged simulation of close-up eye contact. 
  • The mental strain of watching other attendees for visual cues. 
  • A reduction in mobility from staying in the same spot. 
  • Constantly seeing yourself in real time. 

"There's a reason why TED talks are 18 minutes," said Anthony Bonato, a Ryerson University mathematics professor, referring to the popular series of online lectures. "Zoom fatigue is real."

While a hybrid model could reduce reliance on platforms like Zoom, Finlayson says it could be a while yet before people are back in offices having group brainstorming sessions.

"There is going to be a wariness of congregating for a long time."

LISTEN | Jock Finlayson on the future of work in B.C.: 

Kathryn Marlow spoke with Jock Finlayson, the Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer with the Business Council of BC, about the future of work. 10:25

With files from On The Island, Thomas Daigle

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