Telework also sometimes referred to as telecommuting, involves the use of information technology which enables workers to work outside a traditional office environment. Mobile workers enjoy a flexible schedule and can work either a normal forty hour week, or on an occasional basis. Typically most telework occurs only a day or two a week. Implementation of a telework program offers significant benefits to employees, employers and their surrounding communities.
The Canadian government has been less active in promoting telework than the United States. However, several Canadian municipalities have supportive initiatives in place, with the City of Calgary leading the way.
Private organizations are becoming more active in raising awareness of the benefits and best practices for telework in Canada. Nortel Networks is a Canadian company that has become a world leader in the telework trend. They have made flexible work arrangements a top priority, which has in turn yielded higher employee productivity.
Companies that engage in telework and telecommuting programs, allow employees to communicate through email and video conferencing. The long term effects of this trend point to an increased need for improved mobile technology and a decrease in the amount of required office space as employees work remotely.
- Benefits: less commuting, saving time, better for the environment, less demand on infrastructure, increased productivity, less office politics, less overhead costs, less traditional office space needed, can work on off hours
- Challenges: lack of direct communication, less access to management, data accessibility is hindered, poor visibility into colleagues activity, possibility of duplicating work