An organization advocating for a National Work From Home Day says there is strong support among Canadians for such an initiative.
A recent survey commissioned by Toronto-based Workopolis found that nine in ten (88 percent) of Canadian workers agree there should be government support for a nationally recognized day, with over half (52 percent) strongly agreeing.
The organization says over 75,000 people have joined a Facebook movement to make June 1 a National Work From Home Day.
“Work is not a place you go anymore—it’s something that you do, and increasingly something for many workers that can be done anytime and from anywhere,” Workopolis president Gabriel Bouchard said in a release.
“Technology is changing the very nature of work. Forward-thinking employers are waking up to this new reality, changing their approach and seeing the benefits of new smarter working practices, including remote working, which also reduces transportation costs.”
The most commonly perceived personal benefit of “telecommuting” is cost savings, found the survey, which polled 1,001 Canadian workers over the age of 18.
Greater flexibility, such as being able to choose which hours to work, working on one’s own terms, and reducing stress, was the second most popular perceived benefit.
This was followed closely by the ease of caring for others, such as a pet, children, an ill or disabled family member or an elderly parent. Nearly nine in ten (88 per cent) of those who work from home at least once per week agree they are more productive, possibly due to fewer distractions when working from home.
Peter Coleridge, national CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association, said having a national Work From Home Day would also benefit mental health.
“Mental health is an important part of our overall health and well-being,” he said. “Poor work-life balance can negatively impact an individual’s mental health. A flexible work environment that recognizes the need for balance between the demands of work, family and personal life will have positive impacts on employee mental health.”
The argument for working from home extends beyond the worker to the employer, Workopolis says. These include greater access to qualified employees, increased employee productivity, improved image of the company as a flexible employer, and increased employee retention and potentially even reduced operating costs for things such as rent and transportation.
Greater access for workers with disabilities/health issues, those nearing retirement, with family responsibilities, and with accessibility challenges are ranked as top societal benefits, the survey found. Environmental benefits due to less pollution also ranks highly.
“High gas prices, growing concerns for the environment, and a desire for greater work-life balance are coming together to create the perfect storm for a remote culture for Canadian workers,” said Bouchard.
“Smart employers will have this on their radar. With a looming labour shortage it is becoming increasingly important for employers to set themselves apart to attract and retain top talent.”
When asked about the likelihood of switching jobs if given the option of working from home, nearly three of every four (73 percent) respondents said they would seriously consider it. And if presented with two job opportunities with all other things being equal, 88 percent said they would chose the one offering the option to work from home.
In the run-up to the unofficial National Work From Home Day this June 1, Workopolis offers tips for workers to raise the issue with their employer, such as citing stats from some of the studies showing the many savings that can be realized by having staff work from home occasionally and how this can have a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.