As pandemic restrictions ease, white-collar professionals will find that attitudes and expectations towards fully remote jobs vary across industries, an analysis of Canadian job postings suggests. Tech and marketing workers looking to permanently embrace the work-from-home lifestyle have plenty of options, but those in law and banking may be disappointed.
Receding worries about the COVID-19 virus have coincided with a slow trickle of workers back to the office, Statistics Canada data show. In July, the share of employees splitting their time between home and their place of work ticked up 1.2 percentage points to 7.4 per cent, more than double what it was in January.
But not every employer is embracing the return to the office with the same zeal, according to two separate data analyzes by job search sites Indeed Canada and ZipRecruiter.
“There is a bit of a contrast in some sectors where remote job postings are especially prevalent and others where remote work is feasible [but] remote job postings aren’t quite as common,” said Brendon Bernard, senior economist at Indeed Canada.
Over all, job postings on Indeed that mention the possibility to work from home are far more common in white-collar sectors, Mr. Bernard noted. Those industries, which represented 22 percent of all job ads on the platform at the end of July, accounted for around half of the remote-work opportunities.
Still, the share of remote job postings also varies significantly across the country professional industries, according to the data. Roughly 35 per cent of open roles in software development and what Indeed labels as the “IT operations and helpdesk” category offered the ability to work away from the office as of the end of last month. Marketing jobs were also near the top of the chart for being remote-friendly, with nearly 30 per cent of postings on Indeed mentioning location flexibility.
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By contrast, only around 20 per cent of the job postings in legal services, banking and accounting advertise the possibility to skirt the office, according to Indeed.
The Big Five banks – some of the largest employers and most influential white-collar employers in Canada – have mandated a partial return to the office.
Data collected across multiple Canadian job-search platforms by ZipRecruiter, another recruiting site, showed similar trends, with the tech industry far more likely than any other sector to allow employees to toil away from workplaces. The arts and entertainment sector also had more than 30 per cent of job postings referencing remote arrangements, the company said.
Overall, the share of ads that include remote-related terms such as “remote work” or “work from home,” and their French equivalents, stood at around 11 percent at the end of July, according to Indeed. That was slightly below a peak of 14 per cent earlier this year, but in line with levels recorded in the summer of 2021. (Some of the short-term fluctuations may reflect seasonal patterns, Mr. Bernard noted). In July of 2019, by contrast, only around 3 percent of jobs posted on Indeed mentioned remote work.
Numbers from ZipRecruiter show that 13.5 per cent of Canadian job postings for 2022 mentioned work from home. That compares with nearly 12 per cent in 2021 and roughly 2 per cent in 2019. ZipRecruiter said its data is not seasonally adjusted.
Both platforms said their data do not specifically isolate jobs that are completely remote, in which employees have no obligation to turn up at the office.
Some job ads that mention work from home may refer to hybrid workplace arrangements, Mr. Bernard notes. And some companies may allow employees to work full time from their homes but not explicitly mention it in their job postings. As such, the data is more useful as a barometer of overall trends rather than a precise gauge of the share of fully remote job openings, he said.
The data is useful for tracking how often employers are explicitly mentioning remote work in their pitch to job seekers, Mr. Bernard said in reference to the Indeed dataset.
And Canadian employers are more likely than their American counterparts to use work from home as a recruitment tool, ZipRecruiter lead economist Sinem Buber said.
Data from the platform show that so far 9 per cent of US job postings this year contained a reference to remote work, more than four percentage points below Canada’s share of such job ads.
For now the ability to offer fully remote work remains a key competitive advantage for employers with hard-to-fill vacancies, said Julie Labrie, president of BlueSky Personnel Solutions, a recruitment agency that specializes in French-English bilingual positions.
“In my case, because I do bilingual placements, when an employer says to me in Toronto that they can work remotely from anywhere, then I know right away I can go in Quebec, I can go in New Brunswick, too, and I can go in Northern Ontario to see if I can attract people to work.”
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