Most Canadians still afraid to return to workplace: Report

But the majority trust their employers to keep them safe

Most Canadians still afraid to return to workplace: Report
Three in five (59 per cent) women say they are fearful of returning, compared to 49 per cent of men.

More than half (54 per cent) of Canadians are afraid to return to the workplace given just how contagious the COVID-19 virus is, and six in 10 will refuse to go back if they feel it's not safe enough, finds a new poll by KPMG in Canada.

Three in five (59 per cent) women say they are fearful of returning, compared to 49 per cent of men.

Virtually all Canadians (94 per cent) believe the pandemic is far from over, and 83 per cent say they are worried about catching the virus or transmitting it to their loved ones. But, as long as the number of COVID cases remain relatively low, as many as 72 per cent of Canadians are okay going back to their physical workplace, although they believe there will be a second wave of infections in the fall or winter that will shut down workplaces all over again.

Also, 64 per cent would feel much or somewhat better about heading back into their physical workplace if their employer kept them updated in real-time about the level of health risk at their office and provided resources to foster their health and well-being.

However, 82 per cent trust their employer to take and maintain all the necessary health and safety precautions.

“Our poll findings clearly show that Canadians are placing a great deal of trust in their employers to manage their return to the workplace and in keeping them safe,” said Doron Melnick, partner and acting lead of KPMG's people and change advisory services practice. “The pandemic is forcing every employer in the country to adopt comprehensive protocols and safety measures, and to look at new ways of staying connected to their employees.”

Remote work

Most Canadians (76 per cent) are satisfied with their work-from-home environment, and almost six in 10 (59 per cent) say they feel more productive. However, (59 per cent) say their relationship with their co-workers is weaker in their current work-from-home environment.

Also, (71 per cent) prefer in-person communication over any other form, including email, and 76 per cent say face-to-face in-person meetings are key to successfully building and maintaining long-term business relationships.


More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of Canadians say their top concern is that their colleagues might come to work sick or be asymptomatic. Nearly six in 10 (57 per cent) are worried about sharing common spaces like meeting or lunchrooms, and 40 per cent were concerned about the air ventilation and circulation.

Three in five Canadians would use their employer's smartphone app to help them avoid busy and crowded office areas, with slightly more than a quarter (26 per cent) expressing concern about app geo-tracking privacy.

With businesses slowly re-opening, the conversation has turned to what employers should be doing to keep workers safe. COS previously spoke with Amy Campbell, Occupational Health and Safety Program Manager with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).

Last month, WorkSafeBC’s Board of Directors approved amendments to Schedule 1 of the Workers Compensation Act to add a presumption for infections caused by communicable viral pathogens, which are the subject of a B.C.-specific emergency declaration or notice.

In July, 38 per cent of workers did not feel safe returning to their regular workplace, according to Statistics Canada.