A year ago, I started as CEO of CPA Canada, in the wake of the pandemic, expecting the unexpected. What an understatement! My first day started with testing positive for COVID-19 and speaking to over 400 new colleagues online from my kitchen table.

While it is human nature to plan for the unknown, accepting change is the best way to succeed.

Three years after the first COVID-19 lockdowns, one of the big questions that employers and employees are still concerned about is the future of workplaces. To impose the return to work in person or not to impose it?

The pandemic has proven that working remotely is possible in many professions and has highlighted the undeniable value of employee health and wellbeing.

CPA Canada has embraced a hybrid environment and given staff greater autonomy while facilitating nationwide recruitment that reflects the national presence of the accounting profession we serve – for example, our Chief Economist, David-Alexandre Brassard, lives in Quebec.

Telecommuting has also helped people who had difficulty getting to the office (due to disability, caregiver obligations, or living in more affordable areas on the outskirts of town) to have access to a large labor market.

However, although we have survived this period, no one can claim that we have prospered, neither as a company nor as an organization. Everyone is aware that the pandemic and its negative economic fallout have disproportionately affected women and minorities present in the labor market.

Hence the urgent need to combine the positive results of the last three years with our lessons learned from the last century. Because there are clear benefits to bringing teams together in person: richer debates of ideas, more understanding and camaraderie, and mentor-mentee relationships that provide new hires with instant feedback.

The job of a CEO is to prepare his organization for what lies ahead, without clinging to the past or old habits. Transformations in the world of work (demographic changes, talent wars, labor shortages, etc.) are also disrupting the accounting profession, which must embrace change and play a leadership role in society.

We have begun to redesign our certification program and consider new pathways to the profession, including innovative learning and assessment methods that will allow us to continue to produce competent and ethical sense that will play a relevant role in today’s fast-paced, data-driven world.

Given the pace at which technology and society continue to evolve, it is clear that our understanding of hybrid working will change further. But hybrid work remains an unavoidable option that makes it possible to reconcile the needs of the organization and the interests of the employees. Companies must board the train, otherwise they will remain on the platform.