We wanted to learn about your concerns regarding returning physically to work at SFU and what you’re looking for in hybrid work arrangements. Below are the results from our recent survey on hybrid work arrangements at the University. Read on to learn why we chose specific questions, what the answers mean for you and how we will use them to support you, our members.
How You Responded
We had 728 members respond to the survey, which is approximately half of our membership.
61% of you said you could only work from home because of the pandemic. Many of you clarified that working from home wasn’t standard practice before the pandemic, although you may have done so occasionally. Some of you also pointed out that you started working for SFU during the pandemic, so you’ve always worked from home.
“Pre-pandemic I was able to occasionally work from home, if necessary because of life circumstances (e.g. repair person coming to the house), but no consistent arrangement.”
Over 80% of you felt that collaboration tools made it easy for you to do your work. Many of you did experience Zoom fatigue as you had back-to-back meetings with no breaks or transition periods (please note that this portion of the data is from the return to work survey sent in May 2021).
We also wanted to learn what your ideal preference would be on a number of work tasks post-pandemic. Most surveyed members preferred to meet in person for smaller group meetings or one-on-one, though many qualified that it depended on what was happening in those meetings. Generally, the larger the number of people at meetings, the greater the preference to have that event virtually. Virtually doesn’t have to mean “at home” either.
“Virtually from campus (not to be in the crowd, not running between buildings).”
The results will help us plan for the AGM and professional development. It also gives us a better understanding of what you want your meetings with us to look like in the future.
Most of you want to have the option of choosing where you work. 43% of you think it’s unlikely or very unlikely that SFU will put a policy in place on hybrid work arrangements. Even more of you (52%) believe that it will not align with your ideal choice, even if there is a policy. You felt that the University sought little to no input from you (80%) and that your input wouldn’t be applied (79%).
This information is crucial to us. We want to know your ideal work arrangement and work towards attaining this for you. The more data we can collect to support why we are asking for change, the better our position will be during discussions with the University.
The final two questions were also essential for us to pose.
We wanted to know if our members’ concerns would be best put forward in advocacy meetings with University representatives, formal negotiations, or the Central Health and Safety Committee. We asked you to rank the importance of why you preferred a hybrid work arrangement (if you did). While health and safety was third in the ranking and still a concern, your number one reason for hybrid work arrangements was for flexibility and independence in your work arrangements. Work-life balance was your second choice.
Our final question on how should flexible work arrangements be decided was difficult to answer. Still, we wanted to know what you felt would be an equitable policy given the diversity of job roles and needs on all campuses and within individual faculties or departments. So even though “by my direct supervisor” was the most chosen (30.43%), there were many qualifications and comments.
Some comments of note included:
“By SFU policy with role differentiation (student-facing vs. non-student facing, online vs in-person services) and with input from the staff member based on their lived experience and particular circumstances. BIPOC and minority staff who are facing issues on campus/getting to campus that are neither reflected nor considered by most institutional policies, to adopt an anti-racist and equitable position SFU needs to listen and provide unique and culturally responsive supports...”
“This is the challenge. I think there is such variety that unless the SFU-wide policy is about individual unit discretion and a way to continue to have conversations and equity, then I think that this will be meaningless. I am concerned about the disconnect between employee groups, and I am concerned about some people having supervisors who don’t make this a priority at all, so I think there has to be an SFU-wide policy, but that this needs to include individual and department contexts.”
It was imperative to hear what you need in your workplace and why a hybrid work arrangement is a priority for you. The pandemic has been traumatizing for many. It has also given us a new perspective on what is important to us in our lives.
Rest assured; we’ll advocate for you to have a workplace that offers you as much flexibility and independence as possible. We’ll update you as soon as possible on the progress that we’re making.