In the News: Workers Push Back as Return-to-Office Plans Roll Out

May 2, 2022 | Hamilton, ON
Contributed by Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press

Businesses are issuing return-to-office plans across the country, calling white-collar workers back to their cubicles after two years of working from home.

As pandemic restrictions are lifted and case numbers ease, some companies want workers back in the office five days a week. On the other side of the spectrum, others are vacating pricey leases in prime downtown areas and asking employees to work remotely for good.

Many others are adopting a hybrid model, varying from a flexible come-when-you-want approach to mandating specific days workers must report to the office for duty.

Yet after more than two years of Zoom calls and Slack chats from home, wearing comfy “soft” pants and having more time for kids or exercise or reading, employees may be resistant to returning to the office.

“Some employers just want to flip a switch and turn back time to how things were,” said Catherine Connelly, human resources and management professor at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business.

“It’s wishful thinking,” she said. “If you look at any other past pandemic … behaviours just did not reset to how things were.”

A return to the office doesn’t affect all workers equally, said Connelly, also Canada Research Chair in organizational behaviour.


Read the full article in the Toronto Star.

Catherine Connelly

Catherine Connelly

Professor, Human Resources & Management

Dr. Catherine Connelly holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Organizational Behaviour, and is a Member Emeritus of the College of New Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). She is a former associate editor for Human Relations and currently serves on several editorial boards including the Journal of Organizational Behavior, Human Resource Management Review, the Academy of Management Discoveries journal, and Human Resource Management. Her research focuses on the attitudes, behaviours, and experiences of non-standard workers (e.g., temporary agency workers, contractors, temporary foreign workers), the effects of leadership styles on leader well-being, and knowledge hiding in organizations. Catherine also conducts applied research with several Canadian organizations in both the private and non-profit sector. In addition to her research success, Catherine is a past winner and frequent teaching award nominee for her teaching in the MBA and PhD programs. She has made presentations about her research to industry and academic groups across Canada and the US, and in Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. Her research has been featured in the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, and on CTV and CBC radio and TV.

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