New studies examining employer and employee perceptions about remote working arrangements brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic suggest that the majority of employers will offer employees the opportunity to work remotely after the pandemic, as well.

The Business Development Bank of Canada surveyed more than 700 small businesses and 2,000 Canadian workers in February and March 2021, to discover that 74 per cent of business owners say they will offer their employees the opportunity to continue working remotely in the future, while 55 per cent of employees say they would prefer to continue working remotely. 

More, they found that 54 per cent of employees say access to remote work will be a determining factor in applying for or accepting a new job in the future. Of the small and medium-sized business employers surveyed, 27 per cent said offering remote work arrangements gives them access to a bigger talent pool.

The report, entitled What’s next for remote work? Views of Canadian businesses and employees, also found that companies with at least half of their employees doing remote work has doubled, from 21 per cent pre-pandemic to 42 per cent today. The average number of days that employees worked remotely was 3.9 per week in March 2021.

A smaller survey of 340 Canadian organizations, meanwhile, this time conducted by Normandin Beaudry Actuaires conseil inc., found that only 26 per cent of organizations had adopted a formal telework policy prior to the pandemic. That number jumps to more than 91 per cent of organizations who have since adopted such a plan or plan to do so. Among the organizations that had not implemented a formal telework policy before the pandemic, 12 per cent do not plan to adopt one.

Only 17 per cent of those surveyed with a telework policy are ready to let employees work from home as many days per week as they want. Similarly, they add that allowing employees to work from anywhere they want has limited acceptance: 29 per cent of organizations will allow employees to work remotely from within the province, 15 per cent of organizations will allow it within Canada. Only six per cent of organizations surveyed said they would allow employees to work from abroad.

“Several administrative and tax aspects need to be taken into consideration and require further analysis before proceeding,” they write.