Canadians are uncertain about the future of their place of work as they head into 2022, with only half of those currently working from home expecting to return to the office with some regularity, a new Ipsos poll says.
The survey, published on Dec. 26, asked working Canadians about their experiences in 2021 and their expectations for 2022, as evolving public health policies continue to pose uncertainty around work and daily life.
Overall, 64 percent of working Canadians agree—15 percent strongly and 49 percent somewhat—that they achieved a better work-life balance in 2021.
Among them, Quebecers (77 percent) are the largest group that holds this belief, followed by those living in Atlantic Canada (69 percent), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (68 percent), British Columbia and Ontario (60 percent), and Alberta (49 percent).
However, the survey shows that that many are still struggling to achieve this balance, as roughly four in ten (39 percent) of working Canadians agree that they would be fine earning 20 percent less money if they could work 20 percent fewer hours than they do now.
The survey found younger workers to hold this belief, with 49 percent for those aged 18–34, followed by the age group of 35–54 (35 percent) and those aged 55 and older (34 percent).
As the nature of work morphed throughout 2021 in accordance with public health restrictions to address the COVID-19 pandemic, 9 percent of respondents say they have started working remotely or from home, 7 percent have returned to the office, and 15 percent have continued to work from home for an extended period of time, according to the poll.
Among the 11 percent who started a new job, 72 percent agreed it was their choice to do so, while 28 percent disagreed—which suggests that they were laid off, fired, or needed to start a second job to make ends meet, Ipsos said.
However, the survey found that those working from home have “enjoyed the flexibility” and want to continue with this work style on a regular basis, even if they have missed their colleagues.
Among them, 88 percent agree that they have enjoyed working from home more often in 2021, while just 12 percent disagree. And 58 percent agree that they miss working with their colleagues in person, while 42 percent do not.
Darrell Bricker, chief executive officer of public affairs at Ipsos, told Global News that while a consistent number of Canadians have expressed reluctance to return to working at the office, their reasons for wanting to do so have changed with time.
“Part of it seems to be concern about safety, but an increasing part of it—and this is the really interesting finding here—is about a preference,” Bricker said.
“It’s no longer about ‘I’m not going to go back to the office because I don’t think it’s safe.’ It’s ‘I’m not going to go back to the office because I feel like I actually prefer to work at home.’”
Half (50 percent) of those working from home said they expect to return to the office on a regular basis in 2022, while the other half disagree. Only 44 percent agree that they want to return to the office on a regular basis in 2022, while a majority (56 percent) disagree.
Conducted on behalf of Global News, the Ipsos poll surveyed 1,001 Canadians aged 18 and older between Dec. 10 and 15, 2021. The poll was conducted online, with an accuracy of within ± 4.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.