Flexibility is now table stakes for Canadian workers, especially women.

A new study by Abacus Data on behalf of The Honest Talk finds that the pandemic has significantly changed the way Canadians view work and the workplace. The survey of more than 1,300 working adults in Canada reveals that 69% of respondents feel their work-life has changed in some way as a result of the pandemic and nearly half say that change is for the better.

The study found that flexibility is key when it comes to current employment and future opportunities, especially for women. 72% of female respondents said that work-from-home (WFH) flexibility is extremely or quite important when searching for a job today.

If given the choice, women would choose to work from home 65% of the time, which is 13-points higher on average than men. The gender gap holds for parents with younger kids (under 15). Moms want to spend 64% of the time working from home compared with 51% among dads.

When asked to choose between money and several other factors, being able to WFH had the biggest pull. 36% of respondents would give up more money if it meant they could work from home as much as they like. Among women, this rises to 42%, which is 10 points higher than men.

The study also found that Canadians welcome many of the changes caused by the pandemic with open arms because they made their lives better overall, not just their working life. Half (48%) of those who said their work-life changed because of the pandemic reported that those changes were positive. Only a minority (20%) say their work-life is worse off because of the pandemic. 51% say the pandemic had a positive impact on their work-life balance, 53% said it had positive changes on the amount of free time they had, and 56% said it had a positive impact on the time they spent with their family. 41% said it had a positive influence on the relationship between work and mental health.

Canadians would rather stick with their new, post-pandemic work life than go back to how things were.  41% would keep the changes that have happened, 35% would want things how they were before the pandemic, while 24% are unsure what they would prefer. Women were more likely than men to prefer keeping the work-life they have today than going back to how it was before the pandemic (44% vs. 39%). Employers who want to recruit and retain women must recognize that flexibility is now table stakes.

The Upshot

The study suggests that flexibility in working arrangements, particularly the ability to work from home, is highly valued by Canadian workers, especially women. For some, the ability to work from home at least some of the time is more important than how much money they might make. We have clearly entered the Flexibility Era and in a labour market with almost a million job vaccines, those who can offer flexibility will be seen are more appealing – especially since most Canadian workers think their work lives are better today than before the pandemic.

For the full report or a briefing from our team, please contact Yvonne Langen.


The survey was conducted with 1,313 working Canadian adults 1from January 12 to 16, 2023. A random sample of panelists were invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.8%, 19 times out of 20.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population of working adults according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Abacus Data follows the CRIC Public Opinion Research Standards and Disclosure Requirements that can be found here:  https://canadianresearchinsightscouncil.ca/standards/

The survey was sponsored by The Honest Talk.


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