Why Most Cannabis Workers Are Returning To Their Workplaces After COVID

By Andrew Ward

Cannabis hiring leaders tell Benzinga that much of the industry has already returned to pre-COVID personal work arrangements.

Some of the market sideline activities have turned and adopted the new digital regulations. However, this has not been the case for many and does not seem to be the reality for most in the future.

Photo by Helena Lopes via Unsplash

Multiple sources stated that cannabis and its early maturation require workers to be personal in order to create products, build relationships, and increase sales through face-to-face interactions. Because of this, Working from home is hardly an option for a large part of the workforce.

Many cannabis users never leave the office

Much of the industry received its essential status early on during the pandemic. The distinction allowed producers, growers, retailers, and others to stay open to social distancing using modified protocols.

“Many of these operations actually added additional workers on site and distributed them to additional shifts to ensure safe social distance,” said Kara Bradford, CEO of Viridian Staffing.

Bradford found that a packaging facility customer was relocating its operations and dividing its ten-person staff into two shifts to comply with social distancing rules.

Still, some roles in non-plant contact capacities and ancillary fields went home during the height of the pandemic.

There is a possibility that cannabis companies let their employees work remotely, but most don’t see this result.

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Danielle Schumacher, Co-Founder and CEO of the THC Staffing Groupthat looks to work from home on one condition. “I think many will allow their employees to continue working from home as long as it saves the company money,” she predicted.

Other HR managers, including Liesl Bernard, CEO of the Cannabiz team, believe that most employees will go back to the office if they haven’t already.

“We just haven’t seen the same level of disruption as we have seen in other industries, and cannabis will definitely recover faster in terms of personal workplace,” said Bernard, adding that workers from different sectors, from cultivation to retail to retail on compliance, go ahead and admin, are already working on site or can expect to return soon.

She added that some clients switched select roles to remote working during the pandemic, but now specifically state in job postings that they are interviewing face-to-face and working in the office.

Set equal standards for women in the cannabis industryPhoto by Heath Korvola / Getty Images

“We see this as another strong indicator of where the industry mindset is,” added Bernard.

A company that is committed to this vision is 4Front Ventures Corp. (OTC: FFNTF). Like much of the market during COVID, 4Front operations remained open so that a majority of the employees could work in person.

“As an essential business, our cannabis retail and manufacturing facilities have never closed,” said Jill Vipond, 4Front Human Resources Manager.

For most, the future of cannabis work will stay in the office

While much of the market could return to the office, not everyone considers the decision to be the most efficient.

Like Schumacher, Bernard said that when evaluating cost centers versus revenue generators, “these groups don’t necessarily have to return to the office after COVID as long as the infrastructure is in place” to support their work. She highlighted roles in marketing, accounting, payroll, and recruiting as potential long-term home office candidates.

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Bernard noted that the aforementioned roles, as well as legal and marketing, could also appear in a hybrid employment relationship. That said, most won’t have the option.

“It’s a very personal industry based on meeting people in person and building a foundation of trust and connection,” said Bernard. She added, “This is difficult to do online or remotely.”

Vipond stated that 4Front has asked all of its employees to return to the office, with a few exceptions due to location, regular travel and those who have a purely technology-based role.

She cited relationship building and collaboration as the main reasons for returning to the office.

She added that most employees do best in an office setting. “The vast majority of employees need structure and socialization in order to excel and contribute and move the company forward,” said Vipond.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and was republished with permission.

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