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

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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  • LT 3 years ago

    haha. Why do I keep hearing “most” people want to go back to work from experts, when the data shows that’s not true?

    • Trader Jim 3 years ago

      Same companies that are saying people don’t want to work from home are reducing commercial real estate holdings as risk in their quarterly filings. This isn’t because they don’t see the trend, it’s because they’re trying to retain lease value for disposal, before adopting the trend.

  • Ethan Wu 3 years ago

    Consumer brands are spending billions to shift production of consumer goods, from commercial products. If this was a short-term trend, companies like Proctor & Gamble wouldn’t be retooling for consumer production.


  • NM Ayer 3 years ago

    Here because of the Elon tweet. haha. Great takes.

    Any chance we can see more stuff on the American economy?

  • SH 3 years ago

    It’s about ego. Senior managers – especially Boomers who refuse to retire – like to boss people around in person. For them it just isn’t the same doing it remotely. This is primarily why they want all the junior level staff back to be at their beck and call.

    However, if even a few companies shift towards flexible work arrangements there will be a beeline of talented workers heading straight for those forward-thinking companies. It only takes a few (change begins at the margins), and other companies will have to become more flexible or risk settling for underachievers who will gladly put in lots of face time but do little that’s productive.

  • Rick Hyne 3 years ago

    Be careful what you ask for.

    Working from home will eventually drive the cost of labour down as corporations look to hire domestically, use contractors, contract internationally either to individuals or by using remote firms.

    Small businesses will be destroyed, courier companies and places like Amazon and various other delivery services will thrive.

    On the other hand, the cost to get from point A to point B will become too expensive as Trudeau drives the price of transportation into the stratosphere.

    • Paul 3 years ago


      How do you outsource labour internationally?

  • Mike 3 years ago

    In Waterloo the major insurance companies are all shifting big time to work from home.

    • backwardsevolution 3 years ago

      Right before they start shifting to lower pay.

  • Herry 3 years ago

    ” majority of Canadians want to work from home “. Really ? Funny, how the stupid bank believes this is what I want. Nobody asked me anything. No questionnaire, no poll, no survey. Conclusion; stupidity and corruption are on the rise. Big time. And, this is what Turdo wants.

    • Paul 3 years ago

      Let me guess you are over the age of 50? Correction. This is what the majority of young families want as they will actually see their kids grow up rather than staring at the tail end of a car for 10 hours a week.

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