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Talent & CultureTrends & InsightsThe Growing Popularity of Canadian Flexible Work Arrangements

The Growing Popularity of Canadian Flexible Work Arrangements

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Canadian flexible work arrangements, also known as flex work or flexplace, have become increasingly popular in Canada over the past few years. Flexible work refers to work arrangements that allow employees to vary the time, location, or amount of work they do. Examples of flexible work include remote work, hybrid work models, flexible scheduling, part-time work, job sharing, and phased retirement.

According to a 2021 survey by ADP Canada, 86% of Canadian employers said their organization now offers some type of flexible work option, up from 76% before the pandemic. Additionally, a 2022 survey by Robert Half found that 75% of Canadian office workers would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible work options in Canada.

The increased adoption of flexible work in Canada has been driven by several factors, including:

  • Desire for better work-life balance
  • Changing workforce demographics and preferences
  • Advancements in technology enabling remote work
  • Competitive talent market requiring attractive employee benefits

Canadian flexible work arrangements provide a wide variety of benefits for both Canadian employers and employees when implemented thoughtfully. For employers, flex work can lead to improved talent attraction and retention, increased employee engagement and productivity, lower overhead costs, and access to an expanded talent pool.

For employees, the benefits of flexible work include better work-life balance, reduced commuting time and costs, increased job satisfaction, schedule flexibility for caregivers, and new remote work opportunities in Canada.

This article will explore the growing popularity of flexible work in Canada, outlining the different types of arrangements, benefits, implementation best practices, and the future outlook for flex work.

Flexibility on the Rise: Exploring the Growing Popularity of Canadian Flexible Work Arrangements IDC
Flexibility on the Rise: Exploring the Growing Popularity of Canadian Flexible Work Arrangements

Types of Canadian Flexible Work Arrangements

There are several different types of Canadian flexible work arrangements that are becoming increasingly common in Canada:

Remote Work

Remote work, also known as telecommuting jobs in Canada, allows employees to work from home or another off-site location for all or part of their workweek. According to Statistics Canada, the percentage of Canadian employees who worked most of their hours from home jumped from 4% pre-pandemic to 28% in 2021. Jobs most amenable to full-time remote work include computer programmers, accountants, graphic designers, and writers.

Hybrid Models

Hybrid work models blend on-site and off-site work. A typical hybrid schedule involves working from home 2-3 days per week and on-site the remaining days. 65% of Canadian employers now offer some type of hybrid work model, according to research by Randstad Canada. Hybrid arrangements help employees limit commutes while still facilitating in-person collaboration.

Flexible Scheduling

Flexible scheduling provides employees control over their work timing while still working full-time on-site. Options include:

  • Flextime: Employees can choose their start and end times within set limits (e.g. 7am-7pm).
  • Compressed Workweeks: Working full-time hours over fewer than 5 days (e.g. 4 10-hour days).
  • Time Off In Lieu: Earning extra time off for working beyond normal hours.

Part-Time Work

Part-time roles involve working less than 35-40 hours per week. 22% of Canadian employees currently work part-time, reports RBC Economics. Part-time arrangements allow employees to reduce hours while maintaining continuous employment.

Job Sharing

With job sharing, two or more employees share the responsibilities of a traditionally full-time role. Job sharing provides flexibility for employees seeking part-time hours in roles requiring full-time coverage. 5% of Canadian companies offer job sharing, according to Benefits Canada.

Phased Retirement

Phased retirement programs allow older employees to gradually reduce their hours and workload as they transition toward full retirement. 28% of Canadian employers now offer formal phased retirement programs, reports the Conference Board of Canada.

These various types of Canadian flexible work arrangements provide Canadian employees with more options to choose schedules meeting their needs and life stages. The most popular flex work types are remote and hybrid models.

Why is Flexible Work Growing in Canada?

There are several notable factors fueling the growth of Canadian flexible work arrangements among Canadian companies:

Desire for Better Work-Life Balance

85% of Canadian workers say achieving greater work-life balance is a top priority, according to research by Wrike. Flexible schedules and locations enable employees to better manage personal needs alongside work commitments. Parents and caregivers particularly benefit from flex work.

Changing Workforce Demographics

Millennials now make up over 35% of the Canadian workforce, reports Statistics Canada. Younger generations strongly favor flexible work options. 55% of millennial employees say flex work is a priority when job searching. Employers are implementing flex options to attract and retain top millennial talent.

Rise of Technology Enabling Remote Work

Advances in video conferencing, cloud-based systems, laptops, and smartphones allow a wider range of jobs to be performed remotely. 77% of Canadians reported having access to the tech needed for remote work during the pandemic, according to the Future Skills Centre. This technology foundation supports ongoing remote and hybrid work.

Competitive Talent Market

Canada’s talent market is increasingly candidate-driven with low unemployment. Offering flexible work is becoming necessary to compete for skilled employees. A 2022 survey by Owl Labs found that 52% of Canadian employees would look for a new job if they were not offered flexibility by their current employer.

As these factors continue to shape the Canadian labour market, more employers are embracing flex work to attract talent, boost retention, spur innovation, and better meet diverse employee needs.

Benefits of Flexible Work for Canadian Employers

Shaping the Future: The Surge in Popularity of Flexible Work Arrangements in Canada. IDC
Shaping the Future: The Surge in Popularity of Flexible Work Arrangements in Canada.

Implementing flexible work thoughtfully provides a variety of benefits for Canadian employers, including:

Improved Talent Attraction and Retention

Offering flex work makes companies more attractive to in-demand talent who prioritize schedule and location flexibility. Canada has over 1 million tech job vacancies; flex work helps employers compete for tech talent. Remote and hybrid options also expand candidate pools beyond local geographies.

88% of Canadian workers say flex work policies boost loyalty and retention, according to research by Hive. Employees are less likely to leave companies providing desired flexibility.

Increased Employee Engagement and Productivity

Canadian flexible work arrangements lead to higher employee morale, engagement, and productivity. A 2021 study by Enterprise Technology Research found that 80% of Canadian organizations saw productivity rise with flex work. Engaged remote employees tend to work more hours and avoid distractions.

Lower Overhead Costs

With remote and hybrid models, companies can reduce expenditures on office space, furnishings, equipment, parking, and utilities. On average, employers save around $10,000 per remote employee annually, according to Global Workplace Analytics. These cost savings partially offset tech investments to support flex work.

Expanded Talent Pool and Diversity

Flexible work expands talent pools beyond traditional commuting distances to access specialized skills and diversity. Hybrid and remote models make companies more accessible for working parents, caregivers, disabled individuals, and employees seeking geographic flexibility. 71% of Canadian companies with flex work say it has increased diversity, reports Softchoice.

The wide-ranging benefits of flexible work make it a strategic advantage for Canadian employers seeking to emerge stronger from the pandemic. Thoughtful implementation enables companies to flexibly meet needs of both business and people.

Benefits of Flexible Work for Canadian Employees

Along with advantages for employers, Canadian flexible work arrangements also provide important benefits for Canadian employees:

Better Work-Life Balance

Flexible schedules and locations allow employees to more easily harmonize work and personal life demands. Parents and caregivers particularly benefit from flex work for child and elder care needs. 73% of Canadian employees say flex work improves their work-life balance, according to ADP Canada.

Reduced Commute Times and Costs

Employees working from home or on hybrid schedules spend less time commuting and reduce transportation costs. Canadian remote workers save an average of 550 hours in commuting time annually, reports Wrike. They also save on gas, vehicle wear and tear, and public transit costs.

Increased Job Satisfaction

83% of Canadian employees are happier with flexible work options, according to Randstad Canada. Flex work provides employees more autonomy over their schedules and ability to adapt work around personal needs.

Schedule Flexibility for Caregivers

Remote and flexible models enable caregivers to more easily manage work alongside parenting and elder care responsibilities. Parents and caregivers report lower stress and burnout with flex work, according to Wrike.

New Opportunities for Remote Working

Flexible work opens new remote job opportunities that were uncommon pre-pandemic. This geographic flexibility allows some employees to work for companies far from where they live. It also provides options to relocate without leaving a job.

The pandemic-prompted shift to widespread flexible work has yielded tangible quality of life and work benefits for many Canadian employees. As flex options become standardized, even more employees stand to benefit.

Learn more: The Top Remote Work Benefits Companies Should Offer Employees

Remote and Hybrid work arrangements in Canada are the most widely implemented flexible work options by Canadian companies. Here are some key remote work trends in Canada:

  • 28% of employed Canadians worked most of their hours from home in 2021, up from just 4% pre-pandemic, reports Statistics Canada.
  • The occupations with the largest percentages of employees working remotely are computer programmers and interactive media developers (67%), writers and editors (54%), financial auditors and accountants (50%).

By industry, the biggest increases in remote work during the pandemic occurred in professional, scientific and technical services (+60% remote share), finance and insurance (+55%), and information and cultural services (+50%), reports Statistics Canada.

British Columbia has the highest percentage of remote workers at 44%, followed by Ontario at 30%. The provinces with the lowest remote shares are Saskatchewan (15%) and Newfoundland & Labrador (12%).

Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa-Gatineau , and Halifax have the largest percentages of remote workers among metropolitan areas, according to Statistics Canada.

72% of Canadian companies expect the amount of remote work to increase over the next 5 years, reports Wrike. 29% expect a significant increase.

The pandemic-driven shift toward remote work has persisted as hybrid models become standardized. Remote work has moved from a niche to mainstream, with some estimates expecting 50% of Canadian knowledge workers to be working remotely at least 2-3 days per week by 2025.

Work-Life Balance Initiatives by Canadian Companies

Adapting to Change: A Deep Dive into the Growing Trend of Flexible Work Arrangements in Canada. IDC
Adapting to Change: A Deep Dive into the Growing Trend of Flexible Work Arrangements in Canada.

Along with Canadian flexible work arrangements, some other notable work-life balance initiatives offered by Canadian employers include:

Flexible Hours and Scheduling

  • 66% of Canadian companies allow employees some control over choosing start and end times, reports ADP Canada.
  • 43% offer compressed 4-day workweeks, while 28% provide time off in lieu of extra hours worked.
  • Bank of Montreal, KPMG, and Sun Life allow employees to purchase extra vacation time beyond their standard entitlement.

Extended Parental Leave

Companies like Deloitte, IKEA Canada, and Telus Health offer new parents paid leave top-ups beyond government benefits that extend time off with partial income from work.

Wellness Programs and Services

TD Bank, Air Canada, and Shopify provide on-site fitness facilities, wellness workshops, mental health resources, and health benefits that support work-life balance.

Professional Development Opportunities

  • Starbucks, Google, WestJet, and other leading Canadian employers offer tuition assistance programs to support employees’ educational goals outside of work.
  • These initiatives complement flexible schedules and locations to further promote employee work-life balance. They empower people to thrive both personally and professionally.

Keys to Successful Flexible Work Programs

Maximizing benefits of flexible work for all parties requires thoughtful program design and implementation. Key best practices include:

Clear Policies and Eligibility Guidelines

  • Document detailed flex work policies specifying eligibility, scheduling protocols, expectations, technology, and data security.
  • Clarify whether arrangements are temporary or permanent, especially under hybrid models mixing on-site and remote work.

Manager Training on Supporting Remote Teams

  • Train managers on effective communication, engagement, and performance management for remote and hybrid teams.
  • Provide tools to help managers lead dispersed teams successfully.

Open Communication and Collaboration

  • Use multiple channels to facilitate frequent communication and ensure remote employees stay connected.
  • Build opportunities for virtual social interactions through video calls or digital events.

Performance Management Focused on Outcomes

  • Focus performance reviews on measurable deliverables rather than time spent working.
  • Gauge productivity by assessing task completion and goal achievement.

Maintaining Company Culture Remotely

  • Find creative ways to adapt defining elements of your culture like values, rituals, and celebrations to virtual mediums.
  • Profile remote employees to reinforce their inclusion and belonging.

With thoughtfully designed policies, strong manager capabilities, employee input, and flexible mindsets, companies can make flex work productive and sustainable.

The Future of Flexible Work in Canada

Work Redefined: Unveiling the Popularity Surge in Canadian Flexible Work Arrangements. IDC
Work Redefined: Unveiling the Popularity Surge in Canadian Flexible Work Arrangements.

Multiple indicators point to Canadian flexible work arrangements only becoming more prevalent in Canada in coming years:

95% of Canadian companies say flex work is here to stay in their organization, according to PwC Canada. Many flex policies now have permanent status.

A 2021 survey by Angus Reid found that 51% of currently remote-working Canadians expect to keep working from home after the pandemic versus just 10% who expect to return to the office full-time. This points to hybrid models becoming the norm.

74% of Canadian employees want a hybrid remote-office schedule moving forward, according to Achievers Workforce Institute. Fully on-site or fully remote will be less common.

Advances in virtual collaboration technology will further enable effective hybrid and remote work. 5G connectivity will also expand possibilities.

Regulatory changes may strengthen employee flex work rights – The federal government is exploring making the right to request remote work part of the Canada Labour Code.

While the future magnitude of remote work is uncertain, flexible models balancing employee flexibility and business needs are poised to displace rigid 9-to-5 office-bound roles. As flex work evolves from pandemic necessity to preferred benefit, the emphasis will shift toward maximizing productivity and worker wellbeing through this new mode of working. Companies who adopt flex work thoughtfully and creatively will gain competitive advantage in attracting top talent, spurring innovation, controlling costs, and enabling their people to thrive personally and professionally.

The Future is Flexible: Realizing the Full Potential of Canadian Flexible Work Arrangements

The rapid expansion of Canadian flexible work arrangements represents a potential watershed moment in the evolution of work in Canada. While still an adjustment for many companies, flexible work has demonstrated benefits for employers, employees, and society when executed deliberately.

Striking the ideal balance between employee flexibility, business needs, inclusiveness, and innovation will be an ongoing journey. However, companies who lean into flexible work thoughtfully can emerge as both employers of choice and drivers of Canada’s economic recovery and competitiveness.

With strong leadership, communication, and empathy, a new era of work combining productivity and flexibility can become a competitive advantage and inclusive norm.

Realizing the full potential of flexible work models requires foresight, empathy, creativity, and agility. Progressive companies will continually solicit employee input and monitor program success. They will also proactively identify skills, technologies, and management techniques needed for flex work to keep evolving.

IDC Insurance Direct Canada - a trustworthy agency for employee benefits 2024
IDC Insurance Direct Canada – a trustworthy agency for employee benefits

As flexible work becomes the new normal for Canadian employers, another essential step is reviewing employee benefit plans. With remote employees dispersed across cities or even provinces, current plans may not provide protection. Partnering with an insurance provider experienced in flexible work arrangements ensures employees have coverage that meets their needs.

IDC Insurance Direct Canada is one such leading provider enabling the future of flexible work in Canada. As a premier personal and commercial insurance agency, IDC Insurance understands the unique coverage needs of remote employees and hybrid workforces. The IDC Insurance team has deep expertise designing customized plans compatible with popular flexible work models that protect employees wherever they are based.

By selecting IDC Insurance Direct Canada as a benefits partner, Canadian employers can complement their flexible work programs with coverage giving both on-site and remote employees peace of mind. As the future of work rapidly takes shape, IDC Insurance provides the insight and solutions today’s flexible companies require to support, protect, and engage tomorrow’s workforce.


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Article Sources

At Ebsource, our mission is to provide Canadians with comprehensive and truthful information to help them make informed choices about employee benefits. We tap into the expertise of seasoned financial professionals to ensure our advice follows industry best practices. The statistics we cite come from reputable government and industry sources like Statistics Canada and the CLHIA to guarantee accuracy.

Our recommendations are based on rigorous, unbiased research of the major employee benefits providers in Canada. This allows us to tailor suggestions to individuals’ specific budgets and needs. We uphold high standards of objectivity, transparency, and independence in all our materials. We pride ourselves on offering guidance readers can trust by referencing credible sources and adhering to editorial principles. As Canada’s most reliable outlet for employee benefits news, we are dedicated to empowering Canadians to make the best benefits decisions.

Flexible work arrangements: What was heard – canada.ca
What Is a Flexible Work Arrangement? (With Benefits) – ca.indeed.com
Fueling your business growth with flexibility – imercer.com

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