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From Angus Reid Institute

With job market tight, workers continue to resist a return to office

Half who returned to office after COVID-19 hiatus say it was employers’ decision, one-third their own

April 17, 2023 – Canada’s federal government recently joined corporate behemoths Amazon and Disney in announcing a mandatory return (at least part-time) to the office. While these public servants work through this transition, employers in Canada continue to face an uphill battle in getting their own employees to do the same.

A new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds that as employers grapple with a tight labour market – which tends to favour employees – decisions about forcing a return to the office now represent a risky proposition.

For those who currently work from home at least some of the time, one-in-three (36%) say they would return to the office full-time with no qualms if the request were made. That said, a significant group would either return but consider switching jobs (31%) or likely hand in their notice (21%) shortly after being ordered to come back to the office.

Many Canadian workers are adjusting to a new reality as the forecasted short-term trend of working from home has become a long-term reality. With this comes different experiences. Four-in-five (84%) who work on site say their connection to colleagues is either good or great. This, compared to half of those who set up their office at home (50%). On the other end of the benefit spectrum, four-in-five who work from home (81%) give a positive appraisal of their work-life balance, compared to 54 per cent whose job requires them to be on site.

Notably, while there are positive and negative aspects to both work arrangements, productivity does not appear to be overtly impacted. Nearly the same number of workers say they are productive both on-site (77%) and at home (81%).

Suppose your employer demands you return to the office full time, what would you do in this case? (Among those who prefer to work from home)

More Key Findings

Women WFH

Women are more likely than men to prefer to work from home some or all of the time (58% women, 45% men) while those under the age of 35 are less likely than older Canadians to say they want to work from the office all of the time (20%).


Among those who worked from home over the past three years, one-in-five (21%) are back on-site full time or still at home (19%) full time. Similar sized groups are at home more than the office (14%) and vice versa (15%). Fewer than one-in-five (17%) say they split their working hours at home and at the office.

Employer Decision

Among those who have returned to the office after working from home at least some of the time over the past three years, half say it was their employer’s decision (52%), while one-in-three say it was their choice to make (36%). A smaller group (13%) came to the decision another way.

Survey Methodology

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Feb. 9-12, 2023 among a representative randomized sample of 1,622 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

For detailed results by employment and work from home status, click here.

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here

To read the questionnaire in English and French, click here.

Image – Annie Spratt

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From the Angus Reid Institute, Canada’s non-profit foundation committed to independent research.

For detailed breakdown of the results, visit

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