Telecommuting is becoming increasingly common in Canadian businesses. Some stats demonstrate this: In 2010, Stats Canada estimated, not including the self-employed, 1.7 million Canadians worked from home, up almost 23% from the 1.4 million in 2000.
What factors are driving it?
It’s both companies and employees for different reasons. For companies the reasons are cost-savings. For employees, the work-life balance is often cited as the reason for home-based work with an expectation of greater facility in managing hours and demands, less commuting time and greater flexibility.
Also, factors like housing prices can play a role – with cities like Toronto and Vancouver facing sky-high real-estate costs, living in a nearby city from the company office can cost a lot less, but it’s still able to get into the office when needed; for instance, telecommuting from Windsor to Toronto a growing workplace trend, even if it is a three and a half-hour drive if you have to get to downtown Toronto.
Windsor-Essex Success Story
In fact, the growth of telecommuting has been for the cities too. The Windsor-Essex region is looking to promote itself as a great location for these remote office workers. The region offers the natural beauty of the region, wine country and more affordable housing: according to Canadian Real Estate Association, the year-to-date average sale price of a home in Windsor was $197,061, an increase of 5.2 per cent from 2014. In Toronto, the sale price of a home was slightly higher than $600,000. As well, as more young professionals come to the region, there are more trendy craft breweries popping up. There’s the night market. There are a lot of great new restaurants. There’s definitely a surge of new amenities for young people that we appreciate.
Other cities like Ottawa, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary have their own satellite cities.
Is Telecommuting good for Companies?
Generally, it’s another way to save money. On the other hand, managing remote employees presents challenges, and managers can feel like they don’t know what their staff is doing. Are they really working, or running errands. Typically tools can be used to track employees, but there has to be a level of trust because if employees don’t feel trusted, this can create a negative environment. On the other hand, as one commenter said on a recent story about telecommuting if a job can be done remotely, then it can probably also be outsourced.
Is Telecommuting good for Employees?
While there are certainly some cost savings to having employees work out of their own homes, some research is showing there are downsides as well.
First, not all employees are cut out for it; some just need the structure an office provides. On the other hand, there is the feeling (also common to the self-employed) of both isolation and a loss of work/life balance with people never really being “out of” the office. While this is part of a larger issue of people today virtually always being connected, working from home can aggrandize that by being at “the office” 24/7.
Another downside for employees is the sense of being cut off from the hub of social and professional activity that a workplace can provide.
On the other hand, some studies have shown, for employees who are adapted to it, they are more productive. Perhaps the benefit of being cut-off from the social hub – much fewer distractions.