40% of people in Toronto say they would pay to work remotely out of a coffee shop
The ability to work from home has been a saving grace for many in Toronto amid the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing them to stay fully employed without having to leave the house.
While surely thankful to be in careers where such accommodations are possible, more and more "telecommuters" are complaining of fatigue from the daily bed-to-desk-to-couch-to-bed grind, especially as lengthy lockdowns drag on.
More than a year into post-COVID life, people are getting sick of working from home 100 per cent of the time — but it's not necessarily the abandoned offices of downtown Toronto they're missing.
The newly released results of a survey by professional services firm Accenture reveals that 30 per cent of Canadians "would be willing to pay a fee out of their own pockets to work from a café, bar, hotel or retailer with a dedicated space" once the pandemic has ended.
In Toronto specifically, the proportion of workers willing to pay for access to somewhere neither home nor office rises to 40 per cent.
"The pandemic forced a rapid shift to consumers working from home, with many expressing that they want flexibility in how and where they work moving forward," reads a report on the survey.
"Sixty-nine per cent of Canadians who will continue to telecommute once the pandemic subsides say that they would like to occasionally work from a 'third space' — a location other than their home or place of employment... this highlights a potential opportunity to grow revenue for the hospitality and retail industries."
This concept of the "third space" (familiar to anyone who's read a Starbucks training manual) isn't new, but it does seem to be growing in desirability among consumers who expect to have more flexible work arrangements in the wake of COVID-19.
A whopping 77 per cent of Toronto telecommuters surveyed by Accenture as part of its latest global research project indicated that they want to work from a coffee shop, bar or similar space at least occasionally in the future.
Among the nearly 10,000 people surveyed globally as part of the same study, 95 per cent of people indicated that they had made at least one significant lifestyle change amid the pandemic that they expect will be permanent.
Accenture's researchers say that local businesses will benefit in the future from leaning into evolving work trends.
"Travel and hospitality firms have had to be both creative and practical to find new revenue streams in order to keep the lights on over the past very challenging year," said Accenture's Daniel Bunyan in a release announcing the survey results on Monday.
"We have seen hotel rooms converted into pop-up restaurants while others have created a 'third space' for those looking for a temporary office setting outside of their home."
In addition to workspace preferences, Accenture's findings suggest that travel and consumption habits will also be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic for some time. Fifty-three per cent of Canadians who normally travel for work (63 per cent in Toronto) expect that they'll be travelling less for business in the future.
Many Canadians also say that the ways in which they shop have changed permanently as a result of lockdown closures: The percentage of "infrequent online purchasers" who've embraced online shopping has grown by 373 per cent in Toronto alone since the pandemic hit.
Jesse Milns at Reunion Island
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