More people could work from somewhere other than home or the office

Accenture's latest survey reveals more permanent changes to expect post-pandemic.

According to the latest global survey from Accenture, as companies fundamentally rethink their workspaces in the post-pandemic “new normal,” they may need to consider another option: that employees may want to work from somewhere other than home or the office.

Among Canadians polled in the survey, 69% would like to occasionally work from a “third space” once the pandemic subsides — a location other than their home or place of employment – including 77% of Torontonians and 73% of telecommuting Montrealers. That could include someplace like a café, bar, hotel or even a retailer with a dedicated space. That’s an idea that seems to have sprung up a result of pandemic pivots where these businesses have had to rethink how they use their space.

“We have seen hotel rooms converted into pop-up restaurants while others have created a ‘third space’ for those looking for a temporary office setting outside of their home,” according to Daniel Bunyan, managing director and travel industry lead at Accenture in Canada.

Moreover, about 30% of Canadian respondents also said they would be willing to pay for the privilege out of pocket to work from a “third space,” with 49% of Montrealers willing to foot the bill themselves, versus 40% of Torontonians. While this is a relatively smaller portion of the population, it also potentially points to a new revenue stream for businesses in food or hospitality that are able or willing to set up a space devoted to remote work.

The shift to this new model coincides with a shift away from traditional business travel: slightly more than half of Canadians (53%) who normally travel for business expect to reduce business travel in the future, and Torontonians are less sanguine about business travel prospects than Montrealers (63% versus 49%).

Accenture’s survey is the latest to examine the permanent changes and innovations that have come about as a result of the pandemic. According to the report, 95% of people have made at least one permanent change to their lifestyles since the pandemic’s onset.

That includes people permanently changing their shopping habits, with the new survey corroborating Accenture’s previous predictions that the dramatic rise in e-commerce is likely to remain or accelerate further. The proportion of online purchases for food, home décor, fashion and luxury goods by previously “infrequent” ecommerce users in Canada — those who used online channels for less than 25% purchases prior to the outbreak — has increased 316%.

“When we get past the pandemic, across retail sectors, companies will need to continue to meet consumer demand for online shopping but also increase the efficiency of the channel to enable profit growth,” says Robin Sahota, who leads Accenture’s retail practice in Canada. “This next retail transformation will require new investments in micro-fulfilment and supply chains, stores of the future, and the future worker, who will drive new experiences.”