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Remote work is here to stay: BDC study

Nearly three-quarters of business owners plan to offer employees the opportunity to work remotely after the pandemic

Key findings:

  • 74% of SME owners say they will offer their employees the opportunity to continue working remotely
  • 55% of employees say they prefer to continue working remotely as much or more than they do now
  • 54% of employees say access to remote work will be a determining factor in applying for, or accepting a new job
  • 48% of those who have moved since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic factored remote work into their decision

Montreal, June 15, 2021 – BDC, the bank for Canadian entrepreneurs, released a new report today, which examines the perception of remote work among Canadian businesses and employees, after more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey revealed that 74% of entrepreneurs plan to keep offering their employees the ability to work remotely, even once it is safe to return to the office. The report, titled What’s next for remote work? Views of Canadian businesses and employees, surveyed more than 700 small businesses and 2,000 Canadian workers in February and March 2021 to discover how they view the rise of remote work.

Remote work will play a key role in employment, with 54% of employees saying that access to remote work will be a determining factor when applying or accepting a job, and 27% of small and medium-sized business employers saying that remote work gives them access to a bigger talent pool, the study found.

“For more than a year, many Canadian entrepreneurs have pivoted to remote work to limit the spread of the virus. Our findings show that for most businesses, the benefits are so important that they want to keep offering it even once the pandemic is over,” says Pierre Cléroux, BDC's Vice President, Research and Chief Economist.

BDC’s findings noted that the proportion of SMEs with at least half of their employees doing remote work has doubled, from 21% pre-pandemic to 42%. The average number of days that employees worked remotely was 3.9 per week in March.

The report also looked at the perceived benefits and disadvantages of remote work for both employers and employees.

For employers:

  • the main advantages are flexible working hours (54%); improved employee retention (35%); and reduced operating costs (34%).
  • the main disadvantages are its impact on communication, interaction and collaboration (13%); the fact that it is not applicable to all roles (11%); and its impact on productivity and efficiency (9%).

For employees:

  • the main advantages are the reduced commuting time (84%); flexible working hours (62%); and improved life balance (58%).
  • the main disadvantages are the difficulty to interact informally with colleagues (53%); increased screen fatigue (45%); and the difficulty of not seeing colleagues at work (44%).

“The impact of the shift towards telework should not be underestimated,” Cléroux warns. “Remote work can give employers the opportunity to hire qualified candidates they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, especially in a tight labour market.”

To find out more about the latest report, visit bdc.ca/remotework.

About BDC

BDC is the bank for Canadian entrepreneurs. It provides access to financing, as well as advisory services to help Canadian businesses grow and succeed. Its investment arm, BDC Capital, offers a wide range of risk capital solutions. For more than 75 years, BDC’s only purpose has been to support entrepreneurs in all industries and at all stages of growth. For more information and to consult more than 1,000 free tools, articles and entrepreneurs’ stories, visit bdc.ca.

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