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Only 53% of Canadian remote workers admit to multitasking during Zoom calls

A new survey of Canadians employees who conduct business from home at least part of the time suggests that nearly half of all remote workers in this country are sneaky, rotten liars.

The other 53 per cent are either indistractable super drones, or can fully admit to looking somewhere else on their computer screens from time to time during endless work-related video meetings.

"Over half (53 per cent) of respondents multitask during teleconference meetings with non-work activities," read the results of a new survey conducted by Angus Reid on behalf of Cisco Canada.

"Some of the most popular multi-tasking activities include: scrolling social media (53 per cent), household chores (50 per cent), cooking (26 per cent) and online shopping (24 per cent)."

Well duh — and the ratio would likely be much higher if "doing work while listening to someone talk about work" were one of the options. Some employees don't have much of a choice if they want to get anything done.

The survey in question, results of which were released today, looks at these and and other types of emerging behaviours and expectations surrounding work in the modern world, specifically as it pertains to the remote or hybrid-remote workforce.

Cisco Canada reports that the findings show "Canadian employees want workplace flexibility despite concern that their in-person counterparts will have more opportunities for career advancement."

As mirrored in the multinational tech conglomerate's recent global Hybrid Work Index, Cisco found that Canadian hybrid workers "expect greater flexibility, accessibility and security" from their companies these days — to the point where 77 per cent indicated that flexibility in hours and location would directly influence whether or not they stay at a job.

This could have negative implications for employers who choose to go back to the old standard, always in-person office model.

And yet, despite their desires for more flexibility, nearly half (46 per cent) of the 1,012 Canadians surveyed by Cisco on October 12 said that they fear in-person workers will be given preference when it comes to career growth and opportunities.

"These findings highlight a clear tension for Canadian employees — the desire for flexibility versus the impact that flexibility will have on career progression," reads a report on the survey.

"As organizations shift to hybrid work, they'll need to address this head on and ease employees' concerns by setting expectations around the new workplace culture."

Another interesting finding is that 60 per cent of Canadian employees want to see companies put a greater emphasis on work-life balance and wellness as workplace culture evolves.

Some 71 per cent of respondents to the survey indicated that remote work has already had a positive impact on their work-life balance; 31 per cent of them selected "very positive" as an answer.

About 72 per cent of employees said they expect their companies to be planning some sort of hybrid or remote work model moving forward, though few have any idea when, exactly, that will be or what, exactly, that will look like.

Of note is that just 13 per cent of Canadian employees surveyed think they'll actually be expected to attend the office full-time or most of the time when things go back to normal. Globally, only 47 per cent of workers think they'll be allowed to work anywhere other than their employer's office when all is said and done.

Cisco, which has nearly 78,000 employees across the world, advises all businesses to address concerns about the future of work with their employees head on, making it clear whether or not staff can expect to "be left behind if they don't return to the office in full."

"Objections from leadership around giving more flexibility to workers stem from concerns around productivity, but studies have shown that productivity has been maintained, or even grown, throughout the pandemic," reads the report.

"Additionally, recent jobs data from Statistics Canada shows that the economy continues to rebound at a rapid pace, reaching pre-pandemic levels last month — all while the majority of Canadian workers are working remotely."

Lead photo by

Gabriel Benois


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