Many Canadians want to continue working from home and are even willing to change jobs to find an employer that would let them, a new Ipsos poll has found.
The survey, conducted exclusively for Global News, found one in three (32 per cent) Canadians saying that they’d look for another job if their employer forced them to work exclusively at an office, a sentiment more widely shared among those aged 18 to 34 (42 per cent) than those aged 35 to 54 (29 per cent) and 55 and over (22 per cent).
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“The pandemic has had a profound impact on the workplace, and many Canadian workers don’t want to go back to the way it was before. This is one lasting change, lasting impact of the pandemic,” said Sean Simpson, senior vice-president of Ipsos.
“Many appreciate the new flexible working environment, want it to stay that way, and are willing to change jobs to find it,” he added.
In the past year, the survey has shown that 15 per cent have already changed jobs so that they could continue to work from home, a pattern once again found to be more common among those aged 18 to 34 (24 per cent) than working Canadians aged 35 to 54 (11 per cent) or 55 and over (six per cent).
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“The big thing is that commuting takes time and money…and for younger people, if they can save money by staying home, that’s something they want to do,” said Simpson.
According to the poll, nearly half (44 per cent) of Canadians surveyed acknowledged that their employers have adopted flexible working arrangements that didn’t exist prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Simpson also thinks that choosing to work remotely is very much linked to Canada’s housing crisis.
“Young people are struggling to save up for down payments and to purchase homes…Younger people are saying, ‘If I can save money by eating at home and by staying at home instead of commuting to work, why wouldn’t I do that? ‘”
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The survey showed that workers in Ontario are most likely (51 per cent) to say their workplace has adopted a flexible model, followed by those living in Atlantic Canada (43 per cent), BC (43 per cent), Quebec (38 per cent). ), Alberta (34 per cent) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (28 per cent).
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“I think it’s because in Ontario…the price of housing is so high, we know a lot of people have moved further afield from their office,” said Simpson.
“Their commute is greater. It takes longer to commute in Ontario just because of congestion than in many other places in the country,” he added.
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Many Canadians are willing to give up some of their pay in order to achieve flexibility: nearly four in 10 (36 per cent) say they would take a job for less pay if they could work at home instead of the office, the survey found.
While Canadian youngers are seeing the benefits of working from home, a recent study shows that it might be impacting productivity and creativity.
A study entitled Virtual communication curbs creative idea generation published in Nature on April 27 has found that videoconferencing at work makes it harder for employees to come up with creative ideas because the creative process focuses people on a screen, which reduces cognitive focus.
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The results of the study, which was based on a field experiment across five countries, including Europe, the Middle East and South Asia, suggested “that virtual interaction comes with a cognitive cost for creative idea generation.”
“When two individuals look at each other’s eyes on the screen, it appears to neither partner that the other is looking into their eyes, which could affect communication coordination,” the study said.
However, despite the study suggesting that there is a unique cognitive advantage to in-person collaboration, researchers still acknowledged that the use of virtual teams helps is lessening the cost of commuting and real estate.
“There are concrete and immediate economic advantages to virtual interaction,” researchers stated. “To capture the best of both worlds, many workplaces are planning to or currently combine in-person and virtual interaction…Our results indicate that, in these hybrid setups, it might make sense to prioritize creative idea generation during in-person meetings.”
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The Ipsos survey showed that despite the economic advantages, not all Canadians want to permanently work from home. In fact, four in 10 (42 per cent) say that the pandemic has made them realize that they are happiest when working in office.
“Perhaps surprisingly, nearly half (48 per cent) of those aged 18-34 say this is the case,” the poll stated.
Simpson said that the pandemic has created differences among younger Canadians.
“Nearly half [of younger Canadians] say that [the pandemic has] impacted them in some way…so it’s creating this dichotomy for younger people where half are saying that they like the flexibility and the other half say they have experienced ill effects of being more isolated at home,” said Simpson.
He said the Ipsos survey doesn’t see that level of divide among older generations.
“It’s really younger people who are split more evenly down the middle,” Simpson said.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between April 14 to 19, 2022, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 585 working Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 4.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all working Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
— with files from Global’s Anne Gaviola
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