October 3, 2019
By Patrick Bourke
#SponsoredContent. This article was produced through a paid partnership with HSBC Canada.
Ever visit a cafe on a Tuesday afternoon and wonder why so many of your fellow patrons are staring diligently at their laptop screens rather than idly chatting with friends? The answer is simple: they’re working, or to be more specific, remote working.
When Sunny Hundle reflects on the evolution of the remote working scene in Vancouver, one word springs to mind: growth. In the decade since Sunny’s business partner Kevin Penstock founded The Profile – a co-working space in Vancouver – their business and the wider remote working sector in the city has grown massively.
Speaking on the expedited growth of the company, Sunny is quick to point out their humble beginnings:
“The Profile actually began from an office space in Gastown where Kevin put out a number of ads and filled the office very quickly, and from there The Profile began.”
In the intervening years, The Profile has grown considerably and now has three different co-working spaces dotted around Vancouver.
“We’re also operating cafes in these spaces, and we have 15 meeting rooms for virtual offices, as well as private offices, hot desks and an inclusive community membership program.”
Remote working hubs like The Profile cater to the needs of an ever-expanding cohort of remote workers, freelancers and digital nomads who aren’t tied to the typical office-based working environments of the past. What’s more, the seismic growth of WeWork, which has several locations in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto as well as plans for new spaces in Calgary in the near future, offers further proof of the viability of shared work spaces. While the continued expansion of other co-working spaces (CoWorker.com offers more than 330 different shared working spaces in most major cities across Canada) highlights that remote working is more than just a fad or passing trend; it’s here to stay.A recent survey from Regus Canada indicates that almost half (47 percent) of Canadian employees surveyed said they work from outside their main office for half the week. Although this may seem like a relatively high percentage to some, the reality is that Canada is below the global average (54 percent), and also trails well behind countries like China, India and Mexico, who score between 60 and 65 percent respectively, in this category.
In the past a perception existed that almost all traditional jobs took place in a defined office environment, on a strict 9 to 5 basis. Things are different in Canada today with more and more traditional sectors seeing the benefits remote working offers. There are many reasons posited to explain this shift in attitudes towards remote working. Everything from digital infrastructural improvements (better wifi networks), improved communication tools (see Slack), and expensive house prices in many Canadian cities are provided as reasons to explain this phenomenon. And while it may be difficult to single out just one explanation for this shift towards remote working, the reality is that it is happening across all industries in Canada.
Earlier this year, the Canadian federal government began exploratory work into the viability of establishing a shared working environment in designated residential hubs in Ottawa. Their thinking is that this would give public sector employees in the nation’s capital a more convenient alternative to traditional office environments that often come with traffic headaches and other commuting concerns. And while Public Services and Procurement Canada, the department responsible for this exploratory process, has yet to make a final decision on this proposal, the appetite is clearly there for such a development among public servants – a point highlighted by a 2016 public engagement survey which found that 73 percent of 1,200 public sector respondents had asked for flexible work accommodations.
While it is clear that the trend towards remote working is on the rise across Canada, it is important to ask why? From an employer perspective, the benefits that come with having a remote-based team are obvious. Greater autonomy and self-motivation is invaluable for all companies, especially ones that want to instill a culture of ownership and individual decision-making in their team. From a more practical perspective, the ability to hire staff from across the country, rather than one town or city, is a major boon, and can ensure that the best candidate is hired rather than the closest one. Another win is that overheads in terms of rents on large and often expensive office space can be replaced in favour of shared co-working locations.
But what about the employees in remote working settings? How do they feel about it, and what advice would they give to those thinking about following a similar path? To help answer this question we spoke to Moving2Canada’s marketing guru, Marcel Niedecken.“When I moved to Trois-Rivières, Quebec from Hamburg, Germany in August 2017, I was excited for the opportunity to live in a new country, learn a new language, and experience Quebec culture. However, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t concerned about my job opportunities.”
Marcel’s employment challenges were exacerbated by the region where he was moving: “My partner has a government job near Trois-Rivières so she is somewhat tied to this area, but I knew that it would be tough to get something in my field without having to travel to Montreal, a 90-minute commute away. Don’t get me wrong, Trois-Rivières is beautiful and far from a backwater town, but it is not a digital marketing hub, and especially not for those without fluent French. That is why I was so happy when the opportunity at Moving2Canada arose. The possibility to further my career in a new country as a recent immigrant while also being able to work remotely from my hometown was a win-win”.
Marcel’s story is similar to a growing number of newcomers in the Moving2Canada community who see the virtues that a remote working position can offer them as they settle into life in Canada. Marcel describes the transition to his new job as straightforward.
“Aside from my IEC work permit and SIN, all I needed to get started working remotely for Moving2Canada was a laptop, a decent wifi connection and a bank account. I was paid directly into my Canadian bank account and conducted meetings with colleagues in Montreal and Vancouver through Google Meet, it was a simple transition and one that made settling into life in Canada very straight-forward.”
To take advantage of all the flexibility offered by remote working opportunities, newcomers simply have to follow the steps Marcel took to get his employment up and running:
- First, make sure you have the proper legal status required to work in Canada by finding the best immigration pathway for your needs.
- Second, be aware that you need to get a Social Insurance Number (SIN) in order to work in Canada. Find out how to apply for a SIN.
- Finally, to make sure you get your pay-cheque on time and to receive payments from clients, you’ll need to get a Canadian bank account. We recommend HSBC’s Newcomer Program as an excellent banking option for those who are new to Canada. HSBC is also particularly helpful for those who may have to deal in multiple currencies or who have complex international banking situations – here’s looking at you freelancers!
Remote working is not only changing the employment landscape in Canada, it is also re-framing the appeal of small towns and rural locations. In the past, many industries were located exclusively in urban centres like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. However, the increase in the number of remote working environments, coupled with the high price of housing in most major Canadian cities means small-town Canada is being viewed more favourably, particularly among newcomers.
Looking to the future, all indicators point to the remote working environment in Canada expanding and deepening as more industries make the switch to more agile settings. Equally, if current immigration targets remain on track, more than one million permanent immigrants will be welcomed to Canada between 2019 and 2021. Given these two trends, it should come as no surprise if an increasing number of newcomers to Canada bring their experiences and expertise to improve the Canadian remote working scene even further.
After all, you just need a laptop, desk, and bank account to get started, oh and maybe some good coffee too!
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October 3, 2019
By Patrick Bourke
Canada Abroad is a transparent Canadian immigration consultancy with advice you can trust. Led by Deanne Acres-Lans (RCIC #508363), the team delivers professional, regulated, and efficient service.
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