Four in five Canadian public servants working remotely in part or in full, survey finds

By on 09/10/2023 | Updated on 09/10/2023
A picture of someone working remotely
Photo Firmbee from Pixabay

The vast majority of public servants in Canada are working remotely for at least part of their job, Global Government Forum research has found.

An exclusive survey of more than 1,300 public servants found that 82% of Canadian public servants currently work remotely, including 19% who work remotely full-time.

Previous Global Government Forum research found that 89% of Canadian government employees were working away from the office in early 2022 – 70% fully remote and 19% with hybrid working arrangement – and the new research indicates that remote working remains popular for public servants, even as the Canadian government aimed to get more staff back into offices.

In March 2022, the Canadian government began to issue guidance on bringing thousands of public servants back to offices, but such moves formed one of the areas of dispute between staff and employers that led to two-week long strike by 120,000 Canadian public servants earlier this year.

Read in full: Hybrid and Remote Working Canada Public Service Survey 2023

As part of the deal reached to end the dispute, ‘new and improved’ terms for remote work were agreed between the Public Service Alliance of Canada and government that will offer officials additional protection when subject to arbitrary decisions about remote work.

“We have negotiated language in a letter of agreement that requires managers to assess remote work requests individually, not by group, and provide written responses that will allow members and PSAC to hold the employer accountable to equitable and fair decision-making on remote work,” the union said in its statement on the deal.

GGF’s research has also revealed how much public servants value remote working. When asked to identify the most attractive benefits when looking for future employment, remote working is named as the top priority by respondents, highlighted by over three quarters of respondents (76%). Respondents rate remote working above other factors including an attractive salary, flexible working hours and a meaningful propose to their role – although all of these factors were highlighted by more than half of respondents. Over 76% of women see remote working at the most attractive benefit, only 69% of men do.

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Public servants were also asked to identify what they thought were the main benefits of regular remote work. The top response was that it allowed them to be more productive, while a better work life balance and better use of commute time also frequently cited.

While 28% of public servants don’t see any negatives to remote working, one third see the loss of face-to-face interaction with colleagues as the main downside. However, a majority of public servants say there are more benefits than downsides to remote working for them as individuals (80%), and to their team (64%) and organisation (60%).

Read more: Canadian government aims to codify hybrid work model

The survey was designed and carried out by Global Government Forum – the publishing house for civil and public servants around the world. More information on the survey can be found in this summary, If you would like to explore ways that you can become a research knowledge partner, please contact our Commercial Director, George O’Grady: george.o’[email protected]

About Richard Johnstone

Richard Johnstone is the executive editor of Global Government Forum, where he helps to produce editorial analysis and insight for the title’s audience of public servants around the world. Before joining GGF, he spent nearly five years at UK-based title Civil Service World, latterly as acting editor, and has worked in public policy journalism throughout his career.

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