I confess: I was late for a recent Mesh conference panel discussion on workshifting (a.k.a. telecommuting, flex time or ‘working from home’).
Why? Toronto road construction, a bus that never showed up, the world’s slowest cabbie and, finally, an uphill walk in high heels. By the time I hobbled inside, my feet were blistered and my blood was boiling.
Luckily I only missed a few minutes. As I walked in, I felt like panelist Robyn Bews was describing my transportation nightmare to a tee.
“…people talk about punching walls when they get home due to traffic!” said Bews.
Okay, she was talking about the daily frustration of getting home from work. But I’d just endured an ordeal getting to a work event. We can cut down on this gridlock grind, said Bews, if we embrace workshifting.
Bews is the director of Calgary-based WORKShift. Her organization helps companies make the shift to workshifting so their staff can work wherever – and whenever – they’re most efficient. According to research cited by WORKShift, telecommuting can lead to cleaner air (fewer cars on the road), help companies attract and retain talent, and make jobs more accessible for disabled people.
Other studies suggest workshifting can boost productivity by 13 per cent, save $2,000 annually for each telecommuting employee and improve work/life balance. At Allstream, workshifting saved $3.3 million a year in real estate costs and 1.6 tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions over two years.
Technology – like mobile and unified communication and collaboration (UC&C) – is obviously one key to workshifting. But it’s not the only one. As I’ve noted previously, Workshifting requires a cultural shift, not just a technological one.
Telecommuting and flex time are nothing new. But now WORKShift is developing workshifting certification guidelines for companies and organizations. It’ll include recommendations for standards and benchmarks – as well as technology tools and practices.
We don’t know what the certification guidelines are just yet; they’re still a work in progress. If you’re an IT manager making the case to bake UC&C into your workplace, however, having that kind of framework certainly can’t hurt you. If you’re an HR manager competing to lure the best and brightest talent, getting your company certified might also prove helpful.
And if you’re working in a firm where telecommuting isn’t supported, … well, you better get going. You’ve probably got a killer commute ahead of you.