Happy National Work From Home Day!

If you’re reading this in your office and notice some of your colleagues are missing today, don’t fear that the Rapture was just delayed – today is National Work From Home Day.

The unofficial movement toward greater workplace flexibility is driven by Workopolis, the online recruiter, and more than 75,000 Canadians have “liked” their idea on Facebook.

Andrea Garson, vice-president of human resources, says the goal is to make it an official, legislated event and for companies to develop programs that allow eligible workers to telecommute some or all of the time. Calgary already has a tele-work week and Ottawa is moving toward introducing tele-working options at City Hall.

“From a worker’s perspective, there’s obviously a greater flexibility in things like choosing your work hours, flexibility, working on your own terms,” she says.

“There’s a reduction of stress and the ability to care for others if they have a disabled family member.”

It also boosts mental health to such an extent that the Canadian Mental Health Association supports the call for a work-from-home day.

For employers, it can lead to smaller office needs, happier workers, increased productivity and greater access to qualified candidates. “There’s a whole group of people who are now saying this is important to them,” Garson says.

That includes rising talent from 20-somethings who crave flexible bosses to blend with their flexible lifestyles. Telecommuting options also help retain new parents who might otherwise quit.

Karen Scully will be among the ranks telecommuting Wednesday. She does reports for a call centre in Toronto and works from home two days per week and from the office three days a week.

“Everything is on a server and I can talk to my coworkers via MSN,” she says of the ease of telecommuting.

It’s great for her, as she has a four-hour roundtrip commute. Replacing that twice a week by walking to her in-house office saves her about $250 a month in gas and prevents her ailing back from being agitated by the long drive. It’s good for her bosses, too, as she arrives for work cheerful, rested and precisely on time. Commuters “arrive at work angry,” she laughs.

“Somebody’s going to make you angry driving.”

Scully also never has to leave work early to catch a carpool ride and rarely misses a telecommute day.

“I don’t get snow days anymore,” she laments, noting that one year before she telecommuted she had to miss five days due to blizzards.

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