RBC: Majority of Canadians Want To work-from-home, and It Will Change Cities

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The vast majority of Canadians want to work-from-home, according to a new analysis from Canada’s largest bank. In RBC’s 2021 outlook, the bank’s economists note millions more now work-from-home as of last October. The forced shift to remote work, now has the majority of Canadians hoping to work-from-home, at least part of the time. Despite […]

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The vast majority of Canadians want to work-from-home, according to a new analysis from Canada’s largest bank. In RBC’s 2021 outlook, the bank’s economists note millions more now work-from-home as of last October. The forced shift to remote work, now has the majority of Canadians hoping to work-from-home, at least part of the time. Despite employers largely opposed to the idea, the bank believes it’s going to happen anyway, changing the way cities operate. 

Over 2.4 Million Canadians Worked From Home That Usually Don’t

The first lock-down forced millions of Canadians to work-from-home. Months later, millions are still doing it. During the initial lockdown, Canada saw 5 million employees work-from-home. By October, over 2.4 million employees that don’t regularly work-from-home, are still doing it. The forced exposure has a lot of people wondering if they can work-from-home more permanently.

Most Canadians Want To work-from-home, As Least Sometimes

Most Canadians want to work-from-home, at least part of the time. The survey found 80% of employees wanted to work-from-home. About a third want the majority of work to be done at home – 12% entirely remotely, and 22% mostly remotely. Another 29% want a half-home, half-work situation. Then another 17% would prefer to be mostly at the office, with some at-home work. Only 20% of employees were entirely opposed to the idea of working at home full-time. There’s significant demand for more work-at-home arrangements. 

Fewer Than 1 in 5 Employers Are Onboard

Employers aren’t so fond of the work-from-home model though. Only 10% said they were very likely to adopt a work-from-home model. Another 4.1% said it was just “likely” they would offer remote work-from-home. That’s it. Fewer than a fifth of employers were onboard.

Most said it wasn’t even relevant to their business, coming in at 50.3% of employers. That makes sense in the case of things like restaurants, and other social venues. Ditto with construction and utilities, since none of those things can be done from home. Not all jobs can be done at home, but the reason those jobs are done in certain places can shift. Demand for many services are based on the location of employees. If the work shifts, so does the local demand for services.  

There were a good portion of employers that just don’t like the idea. Almost a quarter, 24.6%, said it was “very unlikely.” Another 4.9% said it was unlikely. That’s a significant number of employers that aren’t into the idea.

RBC Thinks The Trend Will Shift Anyway, Changing Cities

The majority of people want to work-from-home, but employers don’t. So that’s settled, right? No one’s working from home. That’s not RBC’s take, they think the work-from-home trend is here to stay “to some extent.”

Canada usually has a tight labor market, with job creation focused in the knowledge economy.  RBC believes employers will become much more flexible to compete for labor. Employees will also be more mobile in this environment. That gives them a little more negotiation when setting the employment terms. RBC notes this will have implications for commercial and residential real estate markets. 

The majority of workplaces can’t work-from-home, with just a few workplaces even capable at this time. However, the movement of high income, marginal consumers can impact where workplaces are. There’s little point in having a bar to cater to an afterwork crowd in City centre, if no one’s around after work. The shift of high income knowledge consumers to secondary cities, will shift their consumption with them. This can force locational obsolescence for companies that depend on those consumers.

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