Brock’s NCO to present research on remote work as a long-term strategy

To be, or not to be, remote?

That is the question Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) is exploring in its latest research brief on the future of working at home or some office-home combination.

With stay-at-home orders instituted in March 2020 winding down, “we are now at a key transition point that requires deliberate discussion and planning,” says brief co-author Kate Cassidy.

“Pivoting quickly during an emergency is one thing, but building a remote work strategy for the long term is quite another,” says Cassidy, adjunct professor within Brock’s Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film.

The brief, titled “To be, or not to be, remote? Examining the essential factors needed for ongoing remote work success,” explores the benefits and potential downsides of remote work.

Cassidy and co-author Mackenzie Rockbrune, an undergraduate Communications student, identify seven themes, and a series of questions attached to each theme, that aim to guide managers in their decision on whether or not to implement a permanent remote work plan or hybrid workforce going forward.

“For those organizations that do choose some form of remote work, our research suggests that success depends on building a culture rooted in human connection, supported with clear communication plans, the right digital tools and a compatible managerial style,” says Cassidy.

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year saw an estimated 70,000 people in Niagara leave their offices and work primarily at home for the first time.

Meanwhile, labour force reports indicate that about one third of Ontario businesses anticipate some remote work to continue after the emergency ends, says the brief.

“We hope that our research will stimulate conversations that help organizations build a successful long-term plan that works for everyone involved,” says Cassidy.

Cassidy and Rockbrune will be presenting their research findings at an online event Wednesday, Oct. 20 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. A panel of Niagara business leaders will discuss the challenges businesses are facing with the return to working in office.

What: Presentation of the NCO brief “To be, or not to be, remote? Examining the essential factors needed for ongoing remote work success” by co-authors Kate Cassidy and Mackenzie Rockbrune.

When: Wednesday, Oct. 20 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Where: Online using Microsoft Teams. To RSVP, contact NCO Research Co-ordinator Carol Phillips at and a link will be sent the day before the event.

Who: Following the presentation will be a discussion panel consisting of Mishka Balsom, CEO, Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce; Dolores Fabiano, Executive Director, South Niagara Chambers of Commerce; Laurie Ryan-Hill, HR Director, Mainstream Community Support Services; and Stacy Terry, Executive Director, Niagara Distress Centre.

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