Canadian Underwriter

What employers and employees can expect of each other in a hybrid future

June 15, 2021   by Adam Malik

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It’s reasonable for your boss to ask you to dress appropriately for video calls with clients, but brokers can also reasonably ask for flexible work hours, says an expert from Aon.

No matter what the expectations may be, companies and staff need to take into consideration a proper balance of what employers need and what staff want as preparations are made for a return to something resembling the workplace of two years ago, explained Robin Daddar, Toronto-based vice president and senior consultant of fleet, safety, health and environment, risk control services at Aon.

For example, it’s reasonable for employers to expect that their staff will remain visibly professional during video conference calls.

“You always need to keep it professional,” Daddar advised over a video call with Canadian Underwriter. “We’re in a call now; we should we really be a professional. We shouldn’t be sitting here in our pyjamas. We could, but we shouldn’t be. That’s a reasonable expectation. Especially of myself, for example. I have a lot of client meetings, so I want to present a professional image. You just don’t want to be casual all the time.”

For employees, asking for flexibility around work hours shouldn’t be met with too much resistance from bosses, Daddar observed.

“The same amount of work you’re doing at the office, you’re doing at home — if not more,” he said. “Obviously, there are distractions at home — you have your kids and maybe family and other [distractions such as elderly parents, television, and more]. Plus, you also can work at all different times and hours.”

But there are distractions at work, too, as Daddar points out. Consider, for example, all of those chance conversations with colleagues while passing each other in the hallway. By working from home, you can gain back some time back from those workplace conversations, in addition to not having to commute to the office, or go out for an extended lunch break and discuss non-work-related topics.

In other words, the same time-suck activities existing in the office also exist at home, just in a different form.

All things considered, workers “expect some sort of flexibility and are saying, ‘Wait a minute, I’m working a little bit harder or longer now, so I need a little more time off. I’m in my office here at home, but home things still need to function,’” Daddar said. “You still got to address those while at the same time work as well.”

It’s important to have that key distinction between home and work life, and an understanding of when one starts and ends. That’s easier to accomplish when there is an office separate from home.

At home, as Daddar points out, “sometimes work carries on much longer than expected. I’m pretty sure most of us have been working well after 6, 7, 8, or even 9 p.m., saying: ‘Just let me get this done.’ But if you go to [the office], come five o’clock, you know you’ve got leave now to beat the traffic.”

It all comes down to balance and understanding on both sides, Daddar explained.

“This a two-way street. Employers have to understand that, and the workers or employees have to understand that too as well,” he said. “There has to be a good understanding between the two groups.”


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