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Return to Office updates

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Just curious what everyone's firms have stated in terms of the return to office. As school returns and cases spike, it has to be expected that some firms, especially those in big office buildings, will start considering a medium to long-term work from home policy. Through the grapevine, at least one large firm has considered extending its work from home policy to two years. Other large firms are currently making the return voluntary and capping the number of people in the offices.

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I don't work for a big firm any more, but I work with a lot of them. And if they're doing what the rest of corporate Canada is doing, nobody who has been working fine from home from March through now will be forced to go to work in their offices any time soon. People who want to return a few days a week or full time probably can (or are already allowed) but it won't be required of people until next summer at the earliest I would guess.

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36 minutes ago, Jaggers said:

I don't work for a big firm any more, but I work with a lot of them. And if they're doing what the rest of corporate Canada is doing, nobody who has been working fine from home from March through now will be forced to go to work in their offices any time soon. People who want to return a few days a week or full time probably can (or are already allowed) but it won't be required of people until next summer at the earliest I would guess.

This reflects what we’ve been told.

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My firm and many others in Vancouver have a voluntary return to office policy, with numbers capped at 25-50% per day. Some have informal "schedules", but people tend to drop in to the office on whatever days suit them (which is, for some people, none at all).

I know one firm has instituted a mandatory return to office 2 or 3 days per week for its lawyers and staff, and I've heard from credible sources that the particular firm in question now has its first confirmed in-office COVID case. If I were firm management, i'd tread carefully about pushing anyone to return to office just yet. although I do think there's going to be more of a return-to-office push incoming in BC  this fall with kids returning to school (plus large investment banks starting to tell 50%+ of their staff to start coming back into the office every day, which might trickle to other professional services).

My bet is most large firms end up at a 4/1 or 3/2 office/home split after COVID "ends".

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Medium sized firm that’s implemented a mandatory return for everyone a few days a week. I think they’re getting pushback so we’ll see if they actually try and enforce it in any way.

Edited by Blurg

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From a student perspective in Vancouver, I've heard of many firms where there's an expectation that articling students go in every day (unless there's a specific reason they should be working from home, like being immuno-compromised). The WFH policy at my firm explicitly applies to students as well

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My office has a voluntary RTW policy with a cap at 30% office capacity. I don't work in the downtown core though - I imagine it's different for people working at, say, Commerce Court, who would need to share those elevators with 1000 other people every day. 

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34 minutes ago, beyondsection17 said:

My office has a voluntary RTW policy with a cap at 30% office capacity. I don't work in the downtown core though - I imagine it's different for people working at, say, Commerce Court, who would need to share those elevators with 1000 other people every day. 

That and transit are major issues for the downtown towers. I think 25-30% capacity is probably workable with the elevators and the subway. I don't think much more than that is workable given the elevator restrictions, especially for people on higher elevator banks.

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Our office returned to work as of Monday.  Masks in all public areas - but our offices are behind locked doors and are thus not public - so just masks in the entrance and elevators.  Max 3 people per elevator.

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I haven't been in our office tower, but our landlord sent us a letter saying it would be four people to an elevator, and masks mandatory in common areas. The entire PATH is mask mandatory as well, like a shopping mall. The Toronto Financial District BIA has been promoting a video showing what to expect when working in the towers, but I can't seem to find it.

Edit: Made a coffee and opened twitter, and it was at the top of my feed:

 

Edited by Jaggers
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1 hour ago, Jaggers said:

I haven't been in our office tower, but our landlord sent us a letter saying it would be four people to an elevator, and masks mandatory in common areas. The entire PATH is mask mandatory as well, like a shopping mall. The Toronto Financial District BIA has been promoting a video showing what to expect when working in the towers, but I can't seem to find it.

Edit: Made a coffee and opened twitter, and it was at the top of my feed:

 

I come in and out of the office as required (I am in the office today, in fact), and the Financial District is still a ghost town.

The video says that most PATH shops are open. Actually, I think more than half are permanently boarded up. The ones that aren't gone are closed, or open only some days of the week. The only thing consistently open throughout the week is the Starbucks in the FCP, so at least this area is still somewhat habitable.

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I live close, so we walk through the financial district once in a while. Dineen is always crowded. I haven't been in the Path since we started working from home.

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We have a small firm in Toronto and have been working from home since mid-March. We have been operating remotely without any major issues, so we will keep our physical office closed until at least the New Year. Funny enough, our lease expired in May and the landlords wanted to increase our rent significantly so we moved out. It was pretty unbelievable and the space is still sitting empty. We have a new office, but because of COVID we have yet to work there. 

I anticipate that when we do return to work, it will be on a rotation so we don't have a full house at any given time. I am a big fan of the virtual office now. It works well with our practice and client-base. It has definitely been harder to collaborate from home, but there hasn't been a drop in our productivity and everyone seems to like having more flexible hours. We also have some lawyers/staff with toddlers, so having more flexible hours and working from home has been a welcome change. 

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We were told to expect to WFH as we have been until 2021, at least (which is basically  here, I guess but still sounds far away!).

We can go in if we want to but... I don’t. Turns out that as much as I was militantly against WFH in previous posts, if you have a good set up it’s just... nicer.

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11 minutes ago, easttowest said:

We were told to expect to WFH as we have been until 2021, at least (which is basically  here, I guess but still sounds far away!).

We can go in if we want to but... I don’t. Turns out that as much as I was militantly against WFH in previous posts, if you have a good set up it’s just... nicer.

I was always against working from home pre-COVID, but am now a big fan!

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Before having a baby I used to work from home once a week. I'd save up some hard thinking work and block the time off so I could do it without interruption. Having a baby at home isn't conducive to that, so I was in the office five days a week for the while leading up to March. Long term I'd like to go back to 1-2 days at home, as long as it's quiet here!

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1 minute ago, Jaggers said:

Before having a baby I used to work from home once a week. I'd save up some hard thinking work and block the time off so I could do it without interruption. Having a baby at home isn't conducive to that, so I was in the office five days a week for the while leading up to March. Long term I'd like to go back to 1-2 days at home, as long as it's quiet here!

Yeah having a baby at home makes it really hard to work. From March until August, I was only able to work early in the morning, during nap time, and after my spouse was done working. Lots of late nights. Thankfully I have a supportive law partner and my toddler is back at daycare so I am able to work regular-ish hours. I still do a lot of work after she goes to bed. I miss the ability to work in the office and not be disturbed, but to me the benefits of working from home really outweigh the drawbacks.

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3 minutes ago, Viszlaw said:

Yeah having a baby at home makes it really hard to work. From March until August, I was only able to work early in the morning, during nap time, and after my spouse was done working. Lots of late nights. Thankfully I have a supportive law partner and my toddler is back at daycare so I am able to work regular-ish hours. I still do a lot of work after she goes to bed. I miss the ability to work in the office and not be disturbed, but to me the benefits of working from home really outweigh the drawbacks.

This is exactly it. Pouring a fresh cup of my own own, cheap (per cup) coffee at 8:56am, making my own meals, and deciding to go for a run at 4:15pm because it’s a beautiful day in November and literally the last one like it for the year are and I can just work later on is... better than grinding the same number of billables in a tower in a suit. 

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I live a 10 minute walk from my office, so it's never an either-or for me. Pre-baby I would even do half days if that's what made sense - go in for a few in person meetings in the morning, then work on something more intensive at home in the afternoon. Making my own lunch means I eat healthy and tasty stuff, but I miss lunches with friends in greasy food courts (or nice restaurants) too.

There are things I really like about both, and I'm looking forward to being able to mix them again.

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