Canadian businesses divided on telecommuting policies: BMO

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            Apr 26, 2013 2:17 PM
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            Canadian businesses divided on telecommuting policies: BMO
    
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            2013-04-26
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            Canadian businesses are divided on whether telecommuting (working remotely) is good for productivity and employee morale, although some are taking steps to make their workplaces more flexible, according to BMO Bank of Montreal.
    

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    Research firm Pollara surveyed a sample of 500 Canadian business owners in February and March of this year for the BMO poll.
    Among those surveyed, 23% offer telecommuting. Of those, 65% reported that it had a positive impact on employee productivity, and 58% said telecommuting improved those employees’ quality of work. Notably, 54% also reported a reduction in office and overhead expenses, according to BMO.
    But some businesses are reluctant to offer telecommuting as an option, the results suggest, with 61% reporting concerns about the possibility of lower employee morale and 53% concerned about loss of productivity.
    “In an evolving workforce, Canadian businesses are fighting to be flexible, innovative and enticing by offering incentives that will benefit not only the organization, but also their employees,” Steve Murphy, senior vice president of commercial banking at BMO Bank of Montreal commented in a statement on the results.
    “These flexible work arrangements help employees achieve greater work-life balance, improve workplace productivity and strengthen employee morale,” he added.
    Large businesses are more likely to offer telecommuting (47%), while only 22% of small businesses are likely to offer the option. Only 8% of employees at all businesses work remotely, according to the poll.
    Regionally, companies based in Alberta were most likely to offer telecommuting to their employees (34%), while companies based in Atlantic provinces were the least likely (16%), BMO said. In Ontario, 20% of businesses were likely to offer the option, according to BMO.
    By business segment, the poll results suggest that business and finance are most likely to offer the option (28%). Other segments include:

      Agri-business: 35

    Telecommuting isn’t necessarily restricted to working from home, BMO noted, pointing out that some employees may be working at different locations related of the business, such as client sites.
    “Recognizing this, as well as wanting to avoid the cost of empty workstations when employees are on the road, on vacation or sick, many employers are moving to ‘hoteling’ – where employees do not necessarily sit at the same workstation everyday,” Michael Thornburrow, senior vice president of corporate real estate with BMO Financial Group noted.
    “This approach provides a more flexible environment, and can lead to improvements in employee productivity, employee satisfaction as well as real estate savings,” he added.

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