Office work could be changed forever by COVID-19. Here’s why that matters

posted on September 25, 2020

September 7, 2020

By Brandie Weikle, CBC News

Only a fraction of employees who began working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic have returned to full-time office work, and that has ramifications for everything from how workplaces are run to where we live — and whether the small businesses that surround office buildings survive.

Nearly three-quarters of the 3.4 million Canadians who began working from home at the start of the crisis were still working remotely in August, according to Labour Force Survey data released by Statistics Canada on Friday.

And another survey suggests many of those new remote employees would like to continue working from home indefinitely.

That research, conducted by Maru/Blue on behalf of ADP Canada, found that 45 per cent of survey respondents would prefer to work remotely at least three days a week. Another 15 per cent would like to work remotely one or two days a week.

“It seems remote work is here to stay, or at least the majority of us want it to be,” said Heather Haslam, vice-president of marketing at ADP Canada, a human resources company.

That’s in part because of fear of the virus itself, the survey found. Of the 12 per cent who said they were anxious about returning to their former work locations, 56 per cent said they were worried about contracting the novel coronavirus.

Another 13 per cent said they didn’t know how they could meet their COVID-era family responsibilities while working outside of the home — things like caring for elderly family members or children whose schools could close if there’s an outbreak, Haslam said.

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