Canadian workers want to maintain flexible, remote work after pandemic: survey

While 87 per cent of Canadian employees who started working remotely for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic believe it will have a long-term impact on the way they work, just 22 per cent said their employer has confirmed working arrangements will be more flexible permanently, according to a new survey by technology solutions firm VMware Canada.

It also found 17 per cent of employees said plans to return to the office haven’t been clearly communicated. However, 26 per cent of new remote workers said they don’t want to go back to the way they used to work before the pandemic.

Read: Remote working, distributed workforces could be part of new normal post-coronavirus

“Canadians want more choice and flexibility in how they work post COVID-19,” said Sean Forkan, vice-president and country manager at VMware Canada, in a press release. “The evolution in their thinking is outpacing that of employers — they want to know that flexible working is here to stay. The information gap or ‘virtual vacuum’ that has emerged is a key challenge for business leaders to address. The next normal will and needs to be a distributed workforce — employers need to enable working anytime, anywhere and with any technology because working from an office won’t be the standard anymore.”

The survey also found nearly half (49 per cent) of respondents said they’d never worked from home prior to the pandemic. About two-thirds (62 per cent) said they don’t think employees should be expected to work full time in an office as the pandemic has shown remote work is possible. And more than half (57 per cent) said the absence of a commute has given them more time and energy for their job. However, seven in 10 (70 per cent) miss meeting their colleagues in person.

As well, 48 per cent of the new remote worker cohort said the tools they need to do their job aren’t easy to access remotely, with 50 per cent reporting that they don’t have applications on their phones for the three most important tasks in a work week, outside of email.

Read: How can employers manage work-from-home burnout?