Montréal, September 2, 2021 – The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal today released the highlights of its second survey on the return of workers to downtown offices. Conducted with Léger, the survey asked how employers and workers who work on the Island of Montréal felt about returning to the office, telecommuting, transportation and incentives that would make back-to-work more attractive.
This second survey is part of the Return to the Office Towers project of the "I love working downtown" initiative, supported by the Ministère de l'Économie et de l'Innovation. It follows our previous survey in June and our declaration of commitment on returning to work, published in midsummer.
A gradual return to the office is already underway
As the summer season draws to a close, many companies have already started the back-to-work process. 47% of workers have now started back to the office, up from 28% in our June survey. 19% are back full time and 28% part time.
Businesses continue to prepare: 63% of employers have shared back-to-work plans with their employees (up from 48% in June). Of those employees who have been given a plan, 71% are satisfied with the measures their employers have taken. This back-to-work dynamic is supported by 68% of workers who say they are comfortable with returning to the office. Among workers who have not yet started the process, the majority consider that the best time will be in the fall of 2021.
The vaccination passport as a solution for a safe return
With the uncertainties related to the risk of a strong fourth wave affecting mainly the unvaccinated, safety and health are the workers' main concerns about returning to the office. When asked what would reassure them, half of the respondents asked for a limit on the number of employees present at any one time. The next priority was a solid return plan by the employer (48%) and a strict hygiene and cleaning protocol (43%).
The need for safety also affects how people intend to travel. The majority of respondents (51%) said they would use their cars when returning to the office, an increase of 5 percentage points from the pre-pandemic period. There is a corresponding increased reluctance to use the métro – 47% used it before the pandemic, compared to 40% now.
The survey also highlights the issue of whether coworkers have been vaccinated. 70% of respondents were worried about returning alongside unvaccinated people, and half of the workers might rethink the process if they were unsure of their coworkers' vaccination status.
The CCMM has strongly promoted the idea of a vaccination passport in Québec for several months, including for checking the vaccination status of employees. This reflects the fact that 70% of workers were in favour of its use in the workplace when the survey was conducted.
Workers would prefer a flexible and hybrid return
This survey confirms last June's findings: workers would prefer a hybrid return formula that combines working at the office with working from home. Half of them (51%) would support going in two or three days a week. Despite a slight decline, teleworking remains popular: 78% of those surveyed are satisfied with this way of working, once again citing savings in travel time and a better work-life balance.
In addition to hybrid work days, flexibility in scheduling is the most cited incentive for employees to return to the office (72%). Among the other ways employers could entice them back, 47% of workers would welcome working with the whole team on site and 45% would appreciate an employer contribution to the cost of travel.
While most workers felt generally positive about working from home, many of them pointed out certain disadvantages. A weakening of team spirit came up regularly (43%), followed by the risk of social isolation (39%) and the difficulty of separating professional and personal life (32%).
Data for this survey was collected from August 2 to 12, with a sample of 1,079 respondents. The CCMM will continue to survey its network members on a regular basis in the coming months.
Consult the survey