3 in 4 employers to keep offering remote work

But location, sector of employee still factors in telework offerings

3 in 4 employers to keep offering remote work
A majority of organizations are planning for a maximum of two or three days of telework per week.

Nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of employers plan to keep offering employees the ability to work remotely, even once it is safe to return to the office, according to a report from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).

And 91 per cent of organizations have adopted a formal telework policy or plan to do so, according to a separate survey by Normandin Beaudry. Only 26 per cent of employers had such a policy in place prior to the pandemic.

More than half (54 per cent) of employees say that access to remote work will be a determining factor when applying for or accepting a job, and 27 per cent of small and medium-sized employers (SMEs) say that offering remote work gives them access to a bigger talent pool, according to BDC.

"For most businesses, the benefits are so important that they want to keep offering it even once the pandemic is over," says Pierre Cléroux, vice president for research and chief economist.

Seventy-three per cent of workers say employers will lose out on talent if they don’t offer flexible or remote working positions, according to a previous report.

Pros and cons

Having remote work options in place provides a lot of benefits, according to the report. For employers, the main advantages are flexible working hours (54 per cent), improved employee retention (35 per cent) and reduced operating costs (34 per cent).

For employees, the main advantages are reduced commuting time (84 per cent), flexible working hours (62 per cent), and improved life balance (58 per cent), according to BDC.

Working from home helps combat burnout, according to another report.

But there are also disadvantages. For employers, these include the impact on communication, interaction and collaboration (13 per cent); the fact that it is not applicable to all roles (11 per cent); and its impact on productivity and efficiency (nine per cent).

For employees, these include the difficulty to interact informally with colleagues (53 per cent); increased screen fatigue (45 per cent); and the difficulty of not seeing colleagues at work (44 per cent).

Sectoral differences

But there won’t be a blanket adoption of work from home across all industries. The nature of the jobs is the primary criterion that determines eligibility to work from home for 85 per cent of organizations, regardless of the sector, according to the Normandin Beaudry report.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of employers with such a policy have established or will establish a maximum number of telework days per week. This statistic increases in the information, culture and entertainment sector (77 per cent) and the educational services (86 per cent) sector, since being physically present is required to ensure that operations run smoothly.

The majority of these organizations are planning for a maximum of two or three days of telework per week. 

Only 17 per cent of organizations with a telework policy are ready to allow employees to work from home as many days per week as they want. Some sectors, like electronic games and telecommunications, are more flexible in this respect: for 67 per cent of these organizations, a weekly maximum will not be implemented.

Question of location

There is also a question of work location for people working from home, according to Normandin Beaudry. 

Nearly three in 10 (29 per cent) of organizations allow working from home within the province, 15 per cent will allow it within Canada and six per cent will allow it from abroad.

“Allowing employees to telework from anywhere they want has limited acceptance. Several administrative and tax aspects need to be taken into consideration and require further analysis before proceeding,” says the firm.

Salaries for staff who choose to relocate will be determined by the company's office location (68 per cent) and the employee's new location (22 per cent), according to a previous report.

Meanwhile, smaller organizations (fewer than 200 employees) are more flexible with regard to this practice and allow it according to percentages of 35 per cent, 20 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively. 

“Smaller organizations often have fewer decision-making processes, which leaves more room for flexible management,” says Normandin Beaudry.

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