The COVID-19 pandemic will have a significant and long-lasting impact on Canadians’ willingness to return to the office, according to new estimates from the nation’s statistics agency.

Up to one quarter of hours worked could be remote after the health crisis ends, Statistics Canada said Wednesday in new calculations based on survey data. That’s up from about 5 per cent pre-pandemic, the agency said. The figure for university-educated workers is 44 per cent, versus 9 per cent for those with no post-secondary education.

The new estimates point to a sustained shift in potential working arrangements that could have far-reaching implications for everything from housing markets to traffic congestion and climate change, Statistics Canada said.

“One sector that will struggle for a long time will be core urban area commercial real estate,” Jimmy Jean, chief economist at Desjardins Securities Inc., said by email. “Fewer people on any given day in core urban areas will also obviously have implications for small businesses located in these areas.”

To come up with its estimates, the study used survey data from February that showed 80 per cent of Canadians who began working remote during the pandemic would like to work at least half their hours from home in a post-COVID world. In addition to education, there are also divides when it comes to gender. Women could see as much as 28 per cent of hours worked from home, compared with 22 per cent for men.

In February, 31 per cent of hours worked were done from home, according to the report.