Telecommuting becoming standard in Canadian workplaces: survey

Part-time telecommuting is becoming the norm for many global workplaces, with 50 per cent of Canadian employees working at least 2.5 days a week outside the office, according to a new survey by IWG.

The survey, which polled more than 18,000 professionals in 96 countries, found 74 per cent of Canadians work away from the office at least one day a week, and one-fifth work offsite every day of the work week.

Read: Majority of employees feel they’d be more productive working from home: survey

“I’m not surprised by the study,” says Norma Tombari, senior director of global diversity and inclusion at Royal Bank of Canada. The financial institution adopted a flexible working option many years ago, she says, noting that employees can work from home or at other remote locations depending on their job functions.

“The way we do work is changing,” says Tombari. In addition to allowing certain employees to telecommute, the bank has also configured its offices to be more flexible by incorporating private work stations and shared spaces.

Current technology and changes in employee expectations has increased mobility within the workforce, noted the study. “Canadian employees no longer need so much time in a particular office,” said Wayne Berger, chief executive officer of IWG Canada and Latin America, in a press release. “We’re entering the era of the mobile workforce and it’s a gamechanger — not just for employees, but for employers too.”

Read: Ceridian raises engagement, productivity with flex time-off policies

Indeed, Canadian employers cited plenty of benefits from allowing workers to telecommute, including business growth (88 per cent), profitability (83 per cent), a reduction in real estate management costs (81 per cent) and attracting and retaining talent (71 per cent).

Canadian employees held a similar sentiment, reporting that remote work reduces their commute time (83 per cent), increases their productivity (80 per cent) and improves their work-life balance (75 per cent). They also cited professional benefits, with 82 per cent saying remote working increases their exposure to educational events, improves networking opportunities (54 per cent) and makes meetings more efficient (52 per cent).

A flexible approach to working engages employees and allows them to manage their work-life responsibilities better, says Tombari. “There’s more collaboration and creativity because you have different teams of people who can connect.”

Mobility has enabled employees at RBC to network and build strong relationships with colleagues from other departments, she adds. “It’s a win-win scenario for employees and their organizations.”

Read: How to manage diverse needs in converting to open offices