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Should Canadian companies allow their workers to perform their duties from home?

Published: February 14, 2018

During the winter months, it becomes difficult and expensive to commute to work every day, especially for workers living more than a few minutes away from the office. Weather can get quite cold in some parts of Canada, while the roads are frequently subjected to snowstorms and covered with ice. Late arrivals to work are common in this period, and employers simply have to accept reduced productivity as their workers arrive stressed out and tired. It’s a situation that benefits no one, so it makes sense to search for alternatives that would limit the financial impact on businesses and make life easier for the long-distance commuters.

As it turns out, there is a solution worth considering. In many industries, digital technologies facilitate remote collaboration without any loss of efficiency, making this model viable on a corporate scale. Workers can safely access their files and share information with their colleagues and superiors, or even participate in meetings via video link, all without leaving their homes. Thanks to time tracking solutions, it’s very simple and convenient to oversee and evaluate their effort. In other words, employees can remain a part of the team without having to brave frozen roads for miles every morning.

Companies with strict attendance policies insist their workers check in every morning, but they might be following an obsolete model. With modern technology, physical presence at the office is less important than mental focus and motivation, so it might be more profitable to loosen up the procedures and leave the remote option on the table, at least for people at some positions. Employees will certainly appreciate such a gesture, and might develop a stronger sense of loyalty towards the company. Having a worker-friendly reputation also helps with the recruiting, since highly sought-after professionals enjoy additional freedom and might value it more than money.

Of course, some companies are better positioned to pursue a decentralized model than others. Software development, creative services, consulting, legal services – in all those areas it’s perfectly logical to allow key contributors to choose where they will work from. However, the math is increasingly changing for other fields of business, with companies realizing new, effective ways to utilize their human resources without forcing them to spend several hours in the car. Of course, retail workers and security guards will always have to be on location, but at present time an average company could derive more value from at least 20-30 % of its workforce.

Canadian winters aren’t getting any milder, so employers should think long and hard about introducing more flexible procedures for certain teams. For this process to run smoothly, HR managers will have to be open-minded and adopt smarter techniques for ensuring productive participation from all members of the team regardless of their location. If this process is conducted with a long term focus, organizations could come up with innovative models that are economically feasible during the entire year, not just in the cold period.

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