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National study shows working from home new norm, even after pandemic

A new report from the Business Development Bank of Canada suggests that working from home may be here to stay.

Among the small business owners surveyed, 74 percent plan to offer their employees the opportunity to work remotely after the pandemic

Other findings include:

  • 55 percent of employees say they prefer to continue working remotely as much or more than they do now,
  • 54 percent of employees say access to remote work will be a determining factor in applying for, or accepting a new job,
  • 48 percent of those who have moved since the start of the pandemic pandemic factored remote work into their decision

The report, titled ‘What’s next for remote work? Views of Canadian businesses and employees,’ surveyed more than 700 small businesses and 2,000 Canadian workers in February and March 2021 to discover how they view the rise of remote work.

“For more than a year, many Canadian entrepreneurs have pivoted to remote work to limit the spread of the virus. Our findings show that for most businesses, the benefits are so important that they want to keep offering it even once the pandemic is over,” says Pierre Cléroux, BDC’s vice president, research and chief economist.

BDC’s findings noted that the proportion of SMEs (Small & Medium Enterprises) with at least half of their employees doing remote work has doubled, from 21 percent pre-pandemic to 42 percent. 

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The average number of days that employees worked remotely was 3.9 per week in March.

The report also looked at the perceived benefits and disadvantages of remote work for both employers and employees.

For employers:

  • The main advantages are flexible working hours (54 percent); improved employee retention (35 percent); and reduced operating costs (34 percent).
  • The main disadvantages are its impact on communication, interaction and collaboration (13 percent); the fact that it is not applicable to all roles (11 percent); and its impact on productivity and efficiency (9 percent).

For employees:

  • The main advantages are the reduced commuting time (84 percent); flexible working hours (62 percent); and improved life balance (58 percent).
  • The main disadvantages are the difficulty to interact informally with colleagues (53 percent); increased screen fatigue (45 percent); and the difficulty of not seeing colleagues at work (44 percent).

“The impact of the shift towards telework should not be underestimated,” Cléroux warns. “Remote work can give employers the opportunity to hire qualified candidates they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, especially in a tight labour market.”

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