When the pandemic ends, over three-quarters (77 per cent) of Canadians want the flexibility to work in the office and remotely, finds a recent survey of 2,003 respondents by KPMG in Canada. Indeed, 71 per cent believe a hybrid workplace, or hybrid office, should be the standard model for all organizations.

Canadians, though, worry about how this reinvention of the workplace will be handled by their employers. Four in five (81 per cent) expressed concern that their bosses aren't prepared nor equipped to manage hybrid workplace models – the 'in-groups' and 'out-groups' – and nearly half (49 per cent) feel they could be overlooked for promotions or face discrimination if they wanted to continue working from home.

A similar number – nearly half (45 per cent) – believe their employer does not understand the implications of a hybrid workplace model.

"Although the novelty of everyone working remotely for months on end has worn off, Canadians definitely crave the flexibility to stay at home or go into the office when required," says Doron Melnick, partner and national leader of KPMG's People and Change practice. "It's equally clear that Canadians have a lot of concerns about how that will work. For many organizations, it's uncharted territory. But, the risks can be addressed with supports, such as training, technology, guidelines, and policies."

Key poll findings:

  • Over three in four (77 per cent) Canadians like the idea of a hybrid workplace model
    71 per cent believe a hybrid workplace should be the standard
  • 81 per cent say their managers need to be better trained to effectively manage a hybrid workplace team
  • 49 per cent are concerned they could be discriminated against or be overlooked for job opportunities if they wanted to keep working remotely
  • 46 per cent feel their managers would treat them differently or penalize them if they didn't go into the office every day
  • 45 per cent don't think their employer really understands the implications of a hybrid workplace model

Want to go back but worries linger

Over three in five (63 per cent) Canadians say that they want to return to their physical workplace or office.

"This isn't surprising given that our previous research showed the pandemic is negatively impacting Canadians' mental health and many feel overworked and burnt out," says Leigh Harris, a management consulting partner, who leads KPMG's federal government practice. "COVID-19 lifted much of the inertia around challenging the what, how, when, and where people work, and organizations now have an opportunity to articulate and plan for the future shape of their workforce."

And, while previous KPMG research showed that the pandemic has proven that most people can work independently and three in five find more purpose in their work, fewer people today feel satisfied with their current work-from-home setup or environment and are feeling less productive than they were during the first lockdown last year.

Nonetheless, they remain worried about contracting COVID-19 variants, with 72 per cent reluctant to take public transportation – virtually unchanged from a similar KPMG Return to the Workplace poll conducted last year. Three in five (59 per cent) remain worried about travelling for work within province, Canada, or abroad.

The biggest worry about returning to the workplace for Canadians is the risk that that they will contract the disease from colleagues coming to work sick or asymptotic. Nearly seven in 10 (68 per cent) Canadians identified this as a top three concern.

While there's much debate about the rights and obligations of vaccine passports, Ms. Harris notes that the KPMG poll shows Canadians are looking for some degree of assurance from their employers that their workplace is safe. In fact, over half want their employer to require vaccine passports and nearly six in 10 think employers should have the right to demand staff be vaccinated before entering the workplace.

Other findings:

  • 63 per cent of Canadians want to return to their physical workplace
  • 72 per cent are worried about taking public transportation, up by 1 percentage point from last July. In Ontario, 77 per cent are worried about using public transport.
  • Three in five (59 per cent) worry about travelling for work within province, Canada, or abroad
  • 68 per cent ranked contracting COVID from colleagues coming to work sick or asymptotic as a top three concern about returning to the workplace
  • Two-thirds (67 per cent) are satisfied with their current work-from-home environment, down from 76 per cent a year ago
  • 51 per cent feel more productive / effective working in a virtual work environment (vs. 59 per cent last year)
  • Over half (54 per cent) believe that their employer should require proof of vaccination or vaccine passports
  • 57 per cent think employers have the right to demand staff be vaccinated before allowing them to enter the workplace
  • 72 per cent would agree to be tested regularly for COVID in the workplace

KPMG surveyed 2,003 Canadians aged 18+ from March 26 to 30, 2021, leveraging Delvinia's AskingCanadians panel through its methodify online research platform. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

About KPMG in Canada

KPMG LLP, a limited liability partnership, is a full-service Audit, Tax and Advisory firm owned and operated by Canadians. For over 150 years, our professionals have provided consulting, accounting, auditing, and tax services to Canadians, inspiring confidence, empowering change, and driving innovation. Guided by our core values of Integrity, Excellence, Courage, Together, For Better, KPMG employs nearly 8,000 people in over 40 locations across Canada, serving private- and public-sector clients. KPMG is consistently ranked one of Canada's top employers and one of the best places to work in the country.

The firm is established under the laws of Ontario and is a member of KPMG's global organization of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International, a private English company limited by guarantee. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. For more information, see home.kpmg/ca.


For media inquiries:

Caroline Van Hasselt
Corporate Communications
KPMG in Canada
(416) 777-3288