Why isn’t telework taking off?

Why isn’t telework taking off in Canada?

Given our availability of high speed Internet access from multiple sources (cable, DSL, EVDO, satellite), and the deployment of laptop, portable and home office personal computers….we got to wondering why more companies are not considering or using telework.

Telework is not only useful for occasional and part time working from home, but can and should be considered an important part of all companies disaster recovery and business continuity plans.

To make myself clear, I am not encouraging people to work at home when they are very ill, but on the other hand, if more people took an initial day or two off when ill, particularly with something contagious, they would not be spreading the viruses to the rest of their fellow office workers.

Most jobs done within offices, plants, and even some retail type roles have parts of the job that can be done away from the primary work place. Let’s give you some examples that we discussed at a recent Chamber of Commerce breakfast to prove our point.

I was talking to a husband and wife that run a local flower shop nearby. Their business has a retail storefront as well as corporate client base. Recently the wife was struck by the cold bug and decided to stay at home for a few days while her husband ‘held the fort’ at the store.

In between sleeping to get better, she took time to review her past client sales history to analyze the sales, product and volume trends. She noted that some of her corporate clients had not been making purchases as much as they had in the past. So, in between tea and medicine, she decided to give them a call to ‘touch base’, which is something she rarely made time to do when she was working at the store.

Her clients were shocked and pleased that she had called, and many expressed the fact that she hadn’t kept in touch, and a new florist was trying to win the business away from her. The clients said they liked her products and innovative designs, delivery service and flexibility, but felt that they were being taken for granted. What was the net result?

In the matter of a few hours, she was able to review the information, contact a few clients, get their feedback and develop an email campaign to ‘keep in touch’ with the rest of her corporate clients. She not only gained back the decreased corporate revenue, but also increased the revenue per client for the next few quarters.

Her husband teased her that she should get sick more often, but seriously also said that working away from the store, i.e. teleworking, helped her focus and analyze the business in ways that had not happened when she was always at the store.

This is just one small example of how not just information/computer based roles can benefit from telework and why working away from the main office occasionally is worth considering.

Roberta Fox wants to challenge our readers to think about telework as part of your 2008 plans, and she welcomes your thoughts, feedback and discussions on this topic. Feel free to contact her at Roberta.Fox@FOXGROUP.ca or 905.473.3369 x 1001 to discuss further.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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