Winnipeg: The Frontier Centre for Public Policy today released Telecommuting and Working at Home in the Emerging Work Environment. This policy study describes how prevalent working from home has become, along with associated trends and issues. The central conclusion of the study is that the rise of telecommuting could offer the economy, businesses and government agencies a level of flexibility that could improve national productivity and contribute toward improved international competitiveness.
- Between the year 2000 and 2008, the overall share of people working at home in Canada rose 15.1 per cent. In 2008, 19.2 per cent of employees and self-employed individuals in Canada worked from home at least some of the time.
- Among the 35 metropolitan areas in Canada with more than 100, 000 people, the 2006 census indicated that 6.2 percent of all employed Canadians reported their residence as their usual place of employment.
- The percentage of employed Canadians who worked primarily from home differed substantially between metropolitan areas. Vancouver had the highest working-at-home share of any metropolitan area with more than 500, 000 residents. In 2006, 8.4 per cent of employed Vancouver residents worked primarily from home. Winnipeg had the smallest work-at-home market share of Canadian cities with at least 500, 000 residents (5.1 per cent).
- Among the 35 largest metropolitan areas and agglomerations in Canada, Kelowna had the highest working-at-home market share (10.4 per cent) followed by Victoria (9.0 per cent).
- Continued growth in telecommuting can help expand social inclusion in Canada, by giving people who do not have access to a car and people constrained by disabilities the potential to enter the workforce. This can contribute to lower poverty rates, less government spending on social programs and happier lives for people who are better positioned to access employment by working from home.
- The research on telecommuting indicates improved productivity and lower costs. Employers that are able to make their work more efficient using working at home can reduce overhead expenses such as the cost of office space and equipment. For example, at Sun Micro Systems, about one half of the workforce telecommutes at least part of the time. The company has realized office space and utility savings of approximately $400-million.
- The growth of working from home can lead to a reduction in Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Working at home is by far the most sustainable mode of employment access, because it eliminates the need for work trip travel, reducing traffic volumes and vehicle emissions.
- Working at home reduces work-trip travel which can reduce traffic congestion. This can help address the fact that traffic congestion is estimated to cost urban areas in Canada between $2.3- billion and $3.7 –billion each year in wasted time and the cost of wasted fuel.