Canada’s tech industry is growing and hiring at a record pace, bolstered by mega rounds of funding that the Globe and Mail deemed a ‘unicorn stampede.’
New opportunities to work remotely, although preferred by certain employers and employees, present novel challenges. With the advent of remote and hybridized work, the competitive field has been broadened – demand and competition for talent can more easily extend beyond geographic boundaries, and international tech companies increasingly have their eye on the Canadian labour pool.
So, how can Canadian tech employers capitalize on the shift towards remote work, while defending against the increasing competition for talent? With soaring valuations, bringing with them attractive compensation packages, how can smaller employers compete to attract and keep talent?
Progressive employers are developing thoughtful return-to-work playbooks to capitalize on the needs of their current teams, and delivering physical and virtual frameworks that will help them expand over the coming years.
Embrace hybrid work and offer flexibility
The feedback from employees is clear – while the majority don’t want to be forced back to the office full-time, most would prefer not to work remotely for 100% of their week. Canadian tech companies have the opportunity to draw talent by offering their employees the best of both worlds.
The leaders of tech giants like Apple and Google are preparing to shift towards hybrid work, based on feedback that flexibility is the top consideration for their teams. According to a study done by Civic Science in February of 2021, 41% of people would rather take a pay cut than work in an office full-time. Some are even predicting a resignation boom as we shift back into the post-pandemic world. New talent will opt for the offer that brings them the flexibility of location that they are seeking.
Keep the office space, but don’t force it onto your team — and provide hybrid options that suit your business.
Support your existing team members first
Before planning for your future hires, remember to first support your existing team members.
Those who relocated their homes during the pandemic, for more space and better quality of life, may not want to return to the office full-time. Work with them to keep them on board. Ask your employees what they want to do and create a broad strategy, and provide special accommodations as needed.
Identify trends within your own company’s demographics and use them to create an appealing structure that is based on trust instead of control. Let each employee find their cadence; then empower them to report on what they're accomplishing, what is/isn’t working, and what they need from their manager/team.
Enjoy a new ocean of talent
Canadian tech employers view the expansion of international companies as both an opportunity and a threat. This pull of talent from other markets also represents an opportunity at home: While international companies can hire in Canada, Canadian companies can hire internationally and from the U.S.
During the pandemic, we observed domestic companies such as Hootsuite hire C-suite leaders from the U.S. with a track record of growing multi-billion-dollar companies. This is a massive opportunity for the expansion of Canadian tech. Previously, growing Canadian tech employers struggled to gain access to ideal applicants for executive positions; they can now hire leaders from any city in the world without forcing them to relocate.
In-person workplaces remain in demand
Despite the flexibility we have come to enjoy, employees don’t want to be fully isolated. They also don’t want to revert to their old schedules or their commutes. Local hubs in exciting and convenient neighbourhoods remain in high demand as employers flex to accommodate.
Many of our clients have continued to hire aggressively over the past 12 months, and they now have more people than seats. In some cases, these companies have 20% - 50% more employees than they have desks in their former offices, with plans for further growth as they return to the physical workspace.
A recent study executed by Microsoft showed that 66% of business decision-makers are considering redesigning their physical spaces to better accommodate hybrid work environments. Companies are actively weighing their options, from scaling up their spaces, to encouraging in-person interactions, to creating rotation schedules to bring people together in a more intentional way.