Telework during COVID-19 lockdown in Canada

New Report Release, May 27, 2020.

This report analyzes the prevalence of work from home (telework) and its impact on transportation and real estate in urban contexts. Relying on data from two recent surveys conducted by Statistics Canada, the report compared work environments before and during COVID-19 and found massive adaptive transformations. Almost 40% of Canadian workers over 15 years of age reported working from home in March and April of 2020. In total, more than 60% of those surveyed reported being home either working or absent from work.

Telework could enable workers to live in affordable neighbourhoods in remote (satellite) towns. Given that teleworkers will not be required to commute daily, they may opt for desirable dwellings, in quality and volume, in places where prices and rents are commensurate with median incomes.

As cities across Canada have started to reopen the economy, there are two likely paths forward. The first path is a return to the pre-COVID-19 scenario of gridlocked roads and crowded transit vehicles and platforms. The supply-side approaches to address mobility constraints by constructing more infrastructure have fallen short of reducing traffic congestion.  This scenario will also see a return to housing affordability concerns in large cities. Even during the pandemic, while housing transactions collapsed in April 2020, housing prices were still holding out. The second path capitalizes on the current shifts in the work culture where telework has risen from approximately 12% before the pandemic to 40% during March and April of 2020. Widespread adoption of telework could help to moderate the demand for travel by motorized modes. Also, telework offers the additional benefit of affordable housing choices in remote suburbs. Collaborative efforts by public and private sector agencies can incentivize the adoption of telework to find new pathways through the gridlocked economy.

Click HERE to access the report.