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Work from home Canada statistics

The key facts and figures you need to know regarding the growing work-from-home trend in Canada.

Trying to determine the “new normal” for work is hard. While pandemic-induced lockdowns are now in the past, many companies and their employees are still trying to negotiate the myriad working situations.

Whether it’s remote work, work from home or a hybrid, the concept of not going into a centralized place of business is fast becoming a negotiation tool, even as many Canadians return to core office space. In the past 12 months, strike actions and union requests in the public sector and the private sector have included work-from-home demands, among other employee concerns.

To understand the relevancy of remote work in the current marketplace, it’s best to examine how the work-from-home in Canada trend evolved and grown in the last few years.

Key work-from-home Canada statistics

  • 14.4% of Canadian workers work exclusively at home(1)
  • 10% of Canadian employees work under a hybrid work arrangement
  • More than 2 in 5 workers in professional, scientific and technical services were exclusively work-at-home employees(2)
  • 39% of Canadians have jobs that can be completed through work-from-home arrangements(3)
  • 37% of employees in Canada worked from home during the pandemic(4)
  • 65 minutes is the average amount of time Canadian employees save when they work from home(5)
  • Over 10% of job postings in Canada, Australia, the UK and the US now offer remote work(6)
  • 78% of work-from-home Canadians like it a lot better than working in their regular workplace(7)
  • 45% of work-from-home employees complain about working all the time and having no time for themselves or their family(8)

Latest work-from-home Canada statistics

In Statistics Canada’s May 2023 Labour Force Survey, 14.4% of workers worked exclusively at home. A further 10% had a hybrid work arrangement, allowing them to work at home part of the time.(9)

People in the professional, scientific and technical services industry were most likely to use a home office, with 2 in 5 (41.3%) working from home. Ontario had the highest percentage of workers who worked exclusively at home or using a hybrid work arrangement (27.3%), followed by Quebec (26.2%), while Saskatchewan (14.8%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (14.7%) had the lowest percentage of work from home employees.(10)

A report from WFH Research, released in June 2023, examined employees working from home in 34 countries. The report revealed some interesting results about the gap between expectation and reality for Canadian employees:

  • 2.5 days —Average number of work-from-home days a Canadian full-time employee wants, per week
  • 1.7 days — Average number of work-from-home days a Canadian full-time employee gets to work-from-home
  • 1.8 days — Average number of work-from-home days employers plan to provide employees(11)

COVID work-from-home snapshot

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic caused huge disruptions to the way Canadians worked. Almost a third of Canadians (28%) worked at home at some stage in the last three years because of the pandemic, according to a 2023 study by the Angus Reid Institute. A further 10% of people already worked at home before the onset of COVID-19.(12)

It’s estimated that 39% of Canadians have jobs that can be worked from home.(13) In May 2020, 37% of employees in Canada worked from home.(14)

As a general rule, the higher an employee’s level of education, the more likely the employee was to work from home.(15) The industry you work in also plays a part — some 85% of workers in finance and insurance, for example, can potentially work from home, but only 6% of workers in accommodation and food services can join them.(16)

Many Canadians returned to the workplace after the pandemic

From the highs of May 2020, when about 37% of the workforce worked from home, the percentage of employees working from home dropped to about 22% by December 2021.(17)

In May 2020, around 43% of Canadian female employees worked from home, compared to 31% of males. But by December 2021, just 24% of female employees worked from home, and just 21% of male employees.(18)

In a 2023 study of people who have returned to the office after working from home over the past three years, 52% said it was their employer’s decision for them to head back to the workplace, while 36% made the choice on their own.(19)

Do Canadians prefer working from home?

Among Canadian employees who worked at home during the pandemic, at least for a portion of the week, 78% say that they like working from home a lot better than working in their regular workplace. This data is from the Survey on Employment and Skills, which is conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research.(20)

Conducted in four waves from 2020 to 2022, the study examined the effects of the pandemic on working arrangements. The survey found that 76% of workers thought that, once the pandemic is over, their employer should continue to allow them to work from home. In fact, 42% said they’d like to keep working from home almost every day.(21)

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Meanwhile, a 2023 study from the Angus Reid Institute found that the desire to work from home could motivate Canadians to change jobs. 21% of people who currently work from home would start looking for a new job if their employer ordered them to return to the office full-time, while a further 31% would consider switching jobs.(22)

In the same survey, 51% of employees said they would like to be working from home more than working on-site.

What do Canadians like about working from home?

The biggest benefit of work-from-home is good or great work-life balance, according to 81% of Canadians; however, 54% of on-site employees also report good or great work-life balance.(23) Interestingly, productivity isn’t affected by where employees do their work, with roughly the same number of workers saying they are productive in the office (77%) and at home (81%).(24)

In a 2023 study that examined employees working from home in 34 countries, respondents identified the top benefits of working from home:

  • 60% — No commute
  • 44% — Savings on gas and lunch costs
  • 42% — Flexibility over when they work(25)

Avoiding a long commute is a key consideration for people who prefer to work from home. A January 2023 study by the US National Bureau of Economic Research revealed that the average daily amount of time saved by working from home in Canada was 65 minutes. Of the time they save, workers devote 40% of it to work, 34% to leisure activities, and 11% to caregiving activities.(26)

By commuting less, working from home could also potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One study found that if all Canadian workers who could do their jobs from home were allowed to do so, the reduced commuting would lead to a reduction in annual emissions of greenhouse gases of about 8.6 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. For reference, that’s equal to 6% of the direct greenhouse gas emissions from Canadian households in 2015.(27)

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What do Canadians like about working at their place of employment?

In a 2023 study that examined employees working from home in 34 countries, respondents identified the top benefits of working at their employer’s business premises:

  • 62% — Socializing with co-workers
  • 54% — Face-to-face collaboration
  • 43% — Clearer boundaries between work and personal time(28)

Connection with co-workers is commonly cited as a key benefit of working in a regular workplace. In a 2023 study, 84% of people who work on-site said their connection to their colleagues was either good or great. That’s significantly more than the 50% of the work-from-home workers who said the same thing.(29)

In the Survey on Employment and Skills, negative experiences with working from home were less commonly reported in the fourth wave of the study than in earlier waves. That said, there were still some significant issues:

  • 45% said that when they work from home, they feel like they are working all the time and never have time for themselves or their family
  • 35% worried that working from home would negatively affect their career
  • 34% said it is impossible to do their job well when working from home
  • 40% of workers with children felt they couldn’t be good parents and also be good at their jobs, when working from home(30)

Will more Canadians work from home in the future?

A 2023 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research in the US examined job postings from 2019 to 2023 in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. During that period, the study found that job postings allowing remote or hybrid work increased at least five-fold in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK, and increased three-fold in the US.(31)

Given the increase in the number of positions and firms that now offer remote or hybrid remote work options, it appears that work-from-home options are here to stay for Canadians.

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