A survey that appears to show residents of the Aldergrove/Otter areas of Langley were a lot less likely to work from home during the pandemic was described as a puzzling “anomaly’ by Trinity Western University (TWU) professor Andrea Soberg.
Soberg was looking at the results of a province-wide survey that found 35 per cent, or roughly a third of people living in the Aldergrove/Otter area of Langley were working remotely.
That was almost half the BC average of 62 percent working from home, and less than the Langley regional average of 50 per cent.
Almost 400,000, about one in 10 British Columbians, participated in the survey from May 12 to May 31 conducted by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), and believed to be the biggest health survey of its kind in Canadian history.
A detailed breakdown of the results of the survey was released in December.
It included neighbourhood-by-neighborhood summaries for many communities, including Langley Township and the City of Langley.
Soberg, TWU professor of Human Resource Management at the Langley-based university, and director of the Centre for Global Entrepreneurship, found the Aldergrove/Otter findings puzzling because the makeup of the community is the same mix of age, education and businesses as the rest of Langley
“It doesn’t make sense,” Soberg told the Langley Advance Times.
“Its an anomaly.”
“When we look at Langley in total, and the businesses in Aldergrove, they match,” Soberg noted.
Without more data, its hard to say why the anomaly exists, but Soberg speculated it could be a result of the way the results were “weighted” using census data to reflect the B.C. population.
Online, the BCCDC has noted that their survey was a voluntary one, which means some populations or groups are more likely to take part than others.
“We adjust the results as best we can to be more representative,” the BCCDC said.
“This includes outreach and post-collection weighting. Weighting means the answers of groups who participated less are ‘dialed up’.”
The fact that overall, fewer people are working from home in Langley City and Township than the B.C. average can be explained by the nature of the work they do, Soberg said.
She noted the top three employers in the City and Township were, in order, retail trade, manufacturing and health, and social assistance jobs, which together, represent a third of all jobs.
“When you look at the top three, it looks like you can’t work too much from home [if you work in those sectors]” Soberg said.
In other categories, the Langley results mostly mirrored provincial averages:
Roughly nine in 10 practiced physical distancing at the time of the survey.
There were no figures for mask use because the survey was carried out before they became mandatory.
Roughly three-quarters of Langley residents, the same as the provincial average, rated the public health response as “appropriate.”
Results of the survey have been used to aid decision-making by public health, government and community stakeholders, the BCCDC said.
School re-openings, for example, were based on results that showed “three in four households with children reported impaired learning and decreased social connections, which can have lifelong impacts.”
The survey also found that, across B.C., while people 70 and older experienced the most severe health effects, younger adults and parents of young children suffered a greater economic, mental and emotional toll, with under-30 people roughly twice as likely to be out of work due to the pandemic.