With summer vacation memories fading in the face of winter’s frozen approach, 53 per cent of Canadian workers want a work-from-home option to avoid long commutes and increase productivity, according to a recent Workopolis survey.
Andrea Garson, vice-president of human resources, says giving employees the option to work from home one or two days a week can boost morale, increase productivity and reduce environmental impact.
“It helps people get a sense that they’re more in control of their lives,” she says from Halifax.
The call for change is driven by technological advances that have made work-from-home more feasible and younger workers who tend to be against long hours at the office in favour of a better work-life balance, Garson says.
“To be competitive in this marketplace, (companies) are going to have to start offering work-from-home,” says Garson, who works from home on Wednesdays. She suggests employees shouldn’t expect the option from the start, but both sides have to first build up trust.
Peter McAdam, vice-president of employee experience at TD Bank, says working from home is part of its range of flex options. A small number of staff are exclusively based at a home office, but a more common pattern is to work at the office some of the week and from home the rest.
“Like other employers, we’re looking to respond to our changing workforce,” he says. To get the top talent, especially the top young talent, TD needs to offer the most flexible work packages, he says.
Just knowing the work-from-home option is available improves morale, even if workers don’t take it up, McAdam says. “There are a lot of business wins,” he says.
Joan Goodman, an executive with TD Bank, works three days a week at the Toronto office and one day a week at her Oakville, Ont., home. “The advantage for me is not having to commute, being around when my kids gets home from school and I also find it incredibly productive,” she says. It has also allowed TD to retain a valued employee, rather than lose her because of rigid policies.