Ok, so it’s not feeling that way right now. Plenty of people have been financially impacted here in Atlantic Canada and, even though we might be feeling a bit better now that the summer weather is here and we can finally get out to (safely) mingle a bit, the road to economic recovery remains long and daunting. In the meantime, people are wondering what the ‘new normal’ will ultimately look like. Well, the early projections suggest that the new normal could see the Maritimes come out of this with some increased competitive advantages.
The virtual workforce is on the rise, from the historical 30% of people working remotely to north of 50% expected. Rented commercial office space will continue to decline as companies and staff effectively adjust to video conferencing and other means of remaining productive from home. People are going to start enjoying that freedom, the less structured, less corporate feeling, as they manage their days from home. Knowledge-based professionals in particular are going to want to enjoy their lives more, coming out of this with a new appreciation for flexibility and work-life balance. More freelancers will emerge, looking to dictate their own hours or plan their lifestyle around completing projects, rather than the more rigid 9 – 5 expectations.
It is also expected that talent will care less about working for a marquee brand or market disruptor and more about the company’s social responsibility. As economic disparity widens, social activism will increase and discerning candidates will want to know what a company stands for, what their values are, and if they truly are living those values. Companies will need to embrace those expectations to cater to the talent demands.
The global shift may see new nations emerge as economic powerhouses and political tensions increase. Those tensions among countries, along with additional threats of COVID-19, may reduce immigration between certain countries, as we have already seen with recent US visa suspensions. In the meantime, leisure travel will also subside. People are preparing to plant roots so they can enjoy more quality of life in their own backyard, while also experiencing less volatility.
We had already been seeing more and more professionals relocate to Atlantic Canada over the last few years to enjoy an improved quality of life along our ocean coastline, with our beautiful landscapes, warm hospitality, reduced commutes, balance of rural and urban lifestyle, and lower housing costs. With an increasingly virtual world, talent ecosystems will be catered to by employers globally who adapt to meet expectations of elite talent. While remote working will see less of a need for bricks and mortar offices to follow, organizations may choose to invest in our region to make their brands more prevalent and accessible to talent they want to attract. The way we do business is transforming, being on board with that transformation and willing to adapt your usual policies will be a key element in the hiring success of your company and the economic prosperity of Atlantic Canada.
As the lines between the regional ecosystems blur and the global talent ecosystem becomes more the norm, the lifestyle advantages we already enjoy here may see Atlantic Canada may become that much more important to the virtual workforce of tomorrow.