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‘COVID tax’: Some Canadians report working more than before

Survey reveals hours, stress levels are up through pandemic


As a result of social-distancing measures, many Canadians have adjusted to a new routine of working from home. (Visual Generation/Adobe Stock)

A new survey from ADP Canada and Angus Reid reveals that many Canadian workers, especially those working remotely as a result of the pandemic, are paying a “COVID tax” — the number of additional hours they are working since the start of the pandemic.

While this “tax” is impacting 30 per cent of all employed Canadians surveyed, it is significantly higher for remote workers and has increased over the course of the pandemic.

Nearly half (44 per cent) of remote workers say they are logging more hours than pre-pandemic times. This figure has doubled over the past year (21 per cent in April 2020 vs. 44 per cent at present).

ADP surveyed 1,501 Canadian workers in April to garner these results.

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How well are Canadian remote workers really doing?

Workers feeling taxed

Of the 44 per cent of respondents reporting working longer hours, one in 10 reported working an additional day or more (8-plus hours) per week. Comparatively, only 15 per cent reported working fewer hours, while 38 per cent reported no change.

Stress levels are also on the rise. According to self-reported figures, stress levels rose seven per cent over the past year, from 34 per cent in April 2020 to 41 per cent in April 2021.

Additionally, the survey found that 46 per cent of remote workers surveyed were feeling less engaged with their work since the start of the pandemic.

“By encouraging employees to take vacation time and regular breaks, to monitor their stress levels and seek support if needed, and by introducing policies for after-hours work or educating on the right to disconnect, employers can help protect the physical and mental health of employees,” said Ed Yuen, vice-president of strategy and business development at ADP Canada, in a news release.

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Productivity perceptions, quality of work

Despite working longer hours, 42 per cent of Canadian remote workers are feeling more productive and over a third (37 per cent) have noticed an increase in the quality of their work, a significant year-over-year increase when compared to April of last year, when 19 per cent and 21 per cent of remote workers reported increased quality of work and productivity respectively, as a result of working from home.

The survey also revealed greater recognition for employees’ personal responsibilities, as boundaries between work and home have blurred.

Over half (53 per cent) of employed Canadians indicated their employer enables them to work a modified schedule when they must fulfill personal responsibilities during work hours.

Other survey findings

  • 80 per cent of working Canadians believe their employers should play a role in supporting the distribution of vaccines to their employees, and the first thing they identified as a preference is paid time off, followed by onsite vaccination clinics, and, then, information and resources.
  • 46 per cent of employed Canadians reported their employer instituted initiatives to support mental health and wellness at their workplace during COVID-19. On the contrary, seven in 10 (69 per cent) said their employer had not instituted any initiatives to help with fatigue related to video-conferencing platforms.