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Nearly 20 per cent of tech firms surveyed would work remotely for good, professor says

Of 100 Ontario technology businesses surveyed by a Wilfrid Laurier University professor, 75 per cent say they would have employees returning to the office if COVID-19 restrictions were lifted tomorrow.

Seven per cent say they would end the option to work from home.

Nicole Coviello is the Lazaridis Chair in International Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Wilfrid Laurier University. (Google StreetView)

Of 100 Ontario technology businesses surveyed by a Wilfrid Laurier University professor, 75 per cent say they would have employees returning to the office in some form if COVID-19 restrictions were lifted tomorrow.

Another 18 per cent would have their employees work remotely regardless, Nicole Coviello, professor of marketing and Lazaridis Chair in International Entrepreneurship & Innovation said. 

Those all in on returning to the office are in the vast minority, only seven per cent. 

COVID-19 restrictions were well underway in July as Coviello's project was to looking to collect her third set of data in the two year project. She wasn't sure how receptive they would be to continuing the research, given the new issues they were facing, but most of them were happy to continue.

There were, however, "a very small number of companies that we couldn't reach and my guess is that they're out of business." she said. 

The original intent of the study was to look at what drives the performance of these smaller, Ontario based tech companies. Coviello said all the businesses have fewer than 250 employees.

They looked at "businesse practices, strategies, characteristics of employees, characteristics of top managers and so on," she said. 

The study is still on track, but now new questions have been added to help understand COVID's impact. 

"As a result we're able to capture what's happened pre-COVID, during COVID and we're continuing to follow up in December which is out last round of data collection," she said 

Tech giants like Google have pledged to keep employees home until summer 2021, which is why it's interesting to see these smaller Ontario firms chart a different course, Coviello said. 

"They're finding that there are employees that prefer to be in the office for various reasons," she said

"Accounting for their preferences or circumstances is essential, and I think that's what we're seeing with this sector."

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