Doing our homework

My two sons work from home. Prior to the pandemic, they would commute to their offices and work from there. Both have saved thousands in commuting costs and business clothing. In Canadian cities and towns across Canada many are now working from home attending to the lockdown orders from provincial governments.

Working from home has become a common norm. A recent study by Robert Half – a large Canadian recruiting agency – found that 31 per cent of Canadians working from home would seek alternative employment if they had to return to their office full time. It also found that 51 per cent of Canadians would be happy to work in a hybrid model, allowing work from home with attending to their office one or two days per week. Working from home has shown that employees in urban centres save between $3000 and $6000 annually on commuting costs.

Those savings make daycare more affordable and help reduce the burden of mortgage costs. It is an important consideration for young couples.

These numbers show the impact remote work has had on businesses. Across the District, many employees work from home. For a considerable length of time, the reporters at the newspaper worked from home, interviewing people for stories, and contacting many others for information.

Managers now must ponder how team building will work. Employees must now consider how to relate to new employees joining staffs and working remotely. Almost every business is adapting to this new work model. The remote workforce will continue, and the hybrid model will also displace the pre covid work model.

Councillors in Fort Frances no longer meet face to face for meetings but do so through video conference which electors can watch on their screens. I’m sure many of the councillors would admit that face to face discussions would be better than the current system. My eldest admits the same, saying he misses those collegial conversations in the office.

Working from home already is having big impacts on office rentals across Canada. In Toronto, office rents have dropped as businesses have chosen to cut back on their space requirements. Businesses are now wondering if they require the same office space as before. Millennials who will be able work from home permanently in Canada’s largest cities are looking to move further away from those cities to afford homes to raise their families. The small communities surrounding Toronto are seeing a surge in home prices being driven by young people fleeing city life. There remains two important issues for those moves. The first is great broadband internet service and the second is good links to reach offices for the hybrid model. A third consideration is the question of how remotely people can work from urban offices. Is there an opportunity to attract back young families to Fort Frances, where housing prices are more reasonable than the Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, or Montreal real estate?

Jim Cumming
Former Publisher
Fort Frances TImes

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