There is overwhelming support for an official Work From Home Day in Canada on June 1, according to a survey by Workopolis. Given all the benefits associated with teleworking, 88 per cent of 1,001 workers agree there should be government support for a nationally recognized day, with 52 per cent strongly agreeing.
"Work is not a place you go anymore, it's something that you do and increasingly something for many workers that can be done anytime and from anywhere," said Gabriel Bouchard, president of Workopolis. "Technology is changing the very nature of work. Forward-thinking employers are waking up to this new reality, changing their approach and seeing the benefits of new smarter working practices, including remote working, which also reduces transportation costs."
The most commonly perceived benefit of working from home for Canadian workers is cost savings, found the survey. Greater flexibility, such as choosing which hours to work, working on their own terms and reducing stress, was the second most popular benefit for workers. This was followed closely by the ease of caring for others (a pet, children, an ill or disabled family member or an elderly parent). And 88 per cent of those who work from home at least once per week agree they are more productive.
"A flexible work environment that recognizes the need for balance between the demands of work, family and personal life will have positive impacts on employee mental health. Having a national Work From Home Day can help spread that message to more workplaces in Canada," says Peter Coleridge, national CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).
Nearly three of every four (73 per cent) Canadians said they would seriously consider switching jobs if given the option of working from home, found the survey. And if presented with two job opportunities, with all other things being equal, 88 per cent said they would chose the one offering the option to work from home.
For employers, the benefits include greater access to qualified employees, increased employee productivity, an improved image of the company as a flexible employer, increased employee retention and, potentially, reduced operating costs for things such as rent and transportation, said Workopolis.
Greater access for workers with disabilities or health issues, family responsibilities or accessibility challenges along with those nearing retirement ranked as top societal benefits, and these will become increasingly important as the labour market tightens. Environmental benefits due to less pollution also rank highly.
"High gas prices, growing concerns for the environment and a desire for greater work-life balance, are coming together to create the perfect storm for a remote culture for Canadian workers," said Bouchard. "Smart employers will have this on their radar. With a looming labour shortage it is becoming increasingly important for employers to set themselves apart to attract and retain top talent."
Four in ten (43 per cent) of the Canadian workers surveyed said their employer encourages working from home. However, 43 per cent of workers also said they don't know how to raise the topic with their employer.
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