Montréal, December 1, 2021 ‒ The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal today released the highlights of its new survey on the return of workers to downtown offices, conducted in collaboration with Léger. The survey describes the behaviours and comfort levels of managers and employees in the Greater Montréal area with returning to the workplace, particularly with regard to mental health, use of the vaccine passport and the resumption of in-person work.
This survey was conducted as part of the “I love working downtown” initiative, supported by the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation du Québec. It follows two previous surveys, conducted in June and August.
The return to the office is accelerating for workers
“Our new survey shows once again that the return of workers to the office is underway, with 61% of respondents indicating that they are back, whether full time (29%) or a few days a week (32%). This is a clear improvement over the rate of return observed in August (47%) and June (28%) and a very promising step forward for the revitalization of downtown Montréal,” said Michel Leblanc, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal.
Worker confidence remains strong: 71% of workers say they are comfortable with returning to in-person work. Similarly, among those who have begun this return, 70% are satisfied with the experience offered by their employer. Flexible office hours are central to this experience, with 62% of respondents reaffirming their importance as a major incentive to return.
Internal communication of return plans to employees is a good practice that is critical to the success of the organization of hybrid work. Our survey shows that the communication rate of the return plan by employers is increasing and has now reached 65% of the companies surveyed. These plans are appreciated by most employees who consider them to be in line with their needs (76%). More generally, the resumption of in-person business events is also widely approved. A majority of workers are keen about taking part in professional networking events (63%), attending conferences or conventions (63%) and working with their colleagues in person (74%).
Telework is still desired, but has major limitations
Despite a slight decline, more than three quarters of workers continue to value teleworking (76%, compared to 78% in August and 84% in June 2021). But after more than a year of the pandemic, respondents report difficulties with teleworking. Among these, three negative effects stand out: loss of team spirit (40%), social isolation (35%) and the difficulty of maintaining a separation between private and professional life (29%).
The hybrid mode remains popular, and respondents indicate a preference (41%) for two or three days a week at the office.
Workers’ mental health is fragile
Our survey data points to a weakening of workers’ mental health and well-being. Only one in two employees rate their mental health as good professionally (51%) and personally (52%). As a result, almost half (49%) would be interested in corporate programs or tools to help with mental health. Fifty-eight percent said that such programs already exist in their organization. This finding is of concern because it demonstrates the negative impact of the pandemic on mental health. Employers need to be aware of this situation and implement adequate support mechanisms.
Restoring trust in safe environments
The survey found that 72% of respondents are concerned about potential contact with unvaccinated colleagues. As a result, more than half of respondents (53%) would be willing to stay home to avoid potential contact with people who are not adequately protected. Accordingly, the vaccine passport is increasingly popular among workers, with 79% now approving its use in the workplace, up from 70% in August.
Lastly, the use of public transit by workers is still below the pre-pandemic level. While public health authorities have not identified any outbreaks related to public transit use, only 53% of respondents say they are confident that public transit is safe. Efforts are still required to continue reassuring workers.
Data collection for this survey took place from October 26 to November 5, 2021, and reached 604 respondents. The CCMM will continue to survey its network members on a regular basis in the coming months.
About the “I love working downtown” initiative
“I love working downtown” is an initiative of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal carried out with support from the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation. Its objective is to accelerate the revival of downtown Montréal.
About the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM)
With a network of 8,000 members, the CCMM is active on two fronts: being the voice of the Montréal business community and delivering specialized services to businesses and their representatives. With its finger on the pulse of current events, it acts on issues that are decisive for the prosperity of the city’s businesses. With the support of the Acclr experts, the CCMM’s goal is to accelerate the creation and growth of businesses of all sizes, at home and around the world.
Advisor, Media Relations
Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal
Tel.: 514-871-4000, ext. 4052
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