Survey shows strong support for flexible, remote working post-coronavirus

Nearly half (45 per cent) of working Canadians said they’d prefer to work remotely at least three days a week, while more than a quarter said they’d prefer to work flex hours, according to a new survey by ADP Canada Co. and research firm Maru/Blue.

The survey, which polled more than 1,500 working Canadians, also found 55 per cent of respondents said their employers have continued to allow remote and flexible working throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

While the findings show strong support for flexible and remote working options, 69 per cent of respondents said they aren’t willing to accept reduced compensation for the changes. In addition, only four per cent of respondents said they’d consider accepting reduced compensation to work reduced hours — for example, a four-day work week. About half (45 per cent) of respondents said they feel remote workers have equal opportunity for job promotion and career advancement.

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

“It’s clear that employees want to choose how and when they work,” said Heather Haslam, vice-president of marketing at ADP Canada, in a press release. “Employers that embrace flexibility within their culture may improve employee engagement, retention and performance. However, flexible work requires the appropriate tools to support collaboration, productivity, workplace culture and engagement in a remote environment.”

The survey found the younger generation of employees is particularly drawn to remote work, with 61 per cent of respondents aged 18 to 34 saying they prefer to work remotely at least three days a week, compared to 43 per cent of those over age 35. As well, only 13 per cent of workers aged 18 to 34 said their job doesn’t allow remote work, compared to a quarter of workers over age 35.

While 44 per cent of survey respondents said they don’t think the workplace will change drastically in the future, a quarter believe their employer will offer more flexible working options, nearly a quarter believe most employees will work remotely and six per cent believe the workplace will be entirely virtual.

So far, 53 per cent of Canadians surveyed have returned to the workplace. Among those who haven’t, 13 per cent said they’re looking forward to returning, 12 per cent said they’re feeling anxious about returning and 15 per cent said they don’t want to return at all.

Read: Successful return-to-work processes even more essential in time of coronavirus

Of those who are feeling anxious about returning to the workplace or who don’t want to return, the majority (73 per ent) said it’s because they would prefer to work remotely. More than half (56 per cent) said they’re concerned about catching the virus, while 30 per cent said they’re worried their employer may not take the necessary steps to protect them.

Despite these findings, most survey respondents said they believe their employers have taken the necessary precautions to protect employees from the virus. About two-thirds (66 per cent) said their employer has increased sanitization and cleaning of workspaces, followed by social distancing measures (64 per cent) and protective barriers and equipment (51 per cent).

“While it appears most employees feel their employer has taken the necessary precautions to protect them, ongoing communication and education can help ease additional anxiety Canadians may be experiencing,” said Haslam. “By sharing a clear re-opening plan and setting expectations, employers can mitigate health and safety concerns and ensure employees are aware of new policies and what to expect when they come back to work.”

Read: Considerations around employee safety, privacy, leave during the coronavirus crisis