• Johal, S. (2023) Out Of Office: The Public Policy Implications of Remote Work. Canadian Standards Association, Toronto, ON.

Executive Summary

In April 2020, just weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly 40% of Canadian employees were working primarily from home as compared to 4% in 2016. While that number has declined, 19% of Canadians were still working exclusively from home in April 2022, with another 5.8% in hybrid arrangements.

Is remote work going to become a permanent feature of work in Canada moving forward? Most of the discussion around this issue has focused on the employer–employee dynamics of particular companies and whether remote work is a much-needed transformation for employees or an impediment to the productivity and collaboration that foster stronger workplace cultures.

Evidence is now coming in on the impacts of remote work from around the world. In Canada, remote work touches several economic, environmental and social questions that should be factored into the conversation about its future.

This paper will assess opportunities for public policy to shape the emerging benefits and challenges related to remote work across a range of environmental, health, social, and economic areas in the years ahead. Specifically, the report touches on the following broad-based interventions worth considering:

  • Enable accessible and affordable digital infrastructure throughout Canada, with a focus on rural, remote, and Northern areas;
  • Update federal and provincial labour laws to account for the rise in remote work;
  • Review and assess tax and revenue issues related to remote work; and
  • Optimize policy frameworks, ranging from immigration to skills-training, through a lens of talent attraction and retention.