Canadian Telecommuting

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Monday January 30, 2006

Came across the article below via The Canadian Telework Association.. Atricle was published Wed Jan 27, 2006 in The Ottawa Business Journal.

Teleworkers master their domain by giving up 9 to 5 at the officeBy Kristin Harold, Ottawa Business Journal StaffWed, Jan 25, 2006 1:00 PM EST
Mitel's Sandy Janes. (Darren Brown, OBJ)

Wednesday Jan 25, 2006

Flannel pyjamas and track pants may not be typical business attire, but they're standard fare for Sandy Janes, Mitel's marketing group director of propositions. As a teleworker, she's part of a growing trend of corporate employees or small business owners who work from home.
A study by Gartner Dataquest estimates that 1.07 million Canadians will telework at least eight hours a week in 2006 and a Statistics Canada survey says about 19 per cent of respondents in Ottawa identified themselves as home-based workers in 2003. While most experts say the success of telework greatly depends on the individual and the situation, the rapid development of information technology is creating an inevitable move towards more home-based employees.
Ms. Janes says she began working from home three years ago after she took on the global responsibilities of her department.
"They're based out of the U.K. so there were regular conference calls scheduled for 5 or 6 a.m.," she says. "I would make those calls from home and then I ended up working from home the rest of the day. I was astonished at how much I could get done without the water cooler conversations and interruptions and how I was able to streamline my day."
Ms. Janes shared these work experiences during a panel discussion hosted by the Ottawa Chapter of the CATA Alliance Women In Technology (WIT) on Jan. 19. The professional development event drew a crowd of more than 60 who listened to the challenges, advice and lessons learned by four local businesswomen experienced in telework or establishing a home-based business.
Ms. Janes says the question most people ask her when they find out that she works from home is how productive she manages to be during the day. She says she found the results of a study by Fox Consulting interesting because it found that productivity tends to dwindle on the third day of the week. As a result, she tends to schedule most of her conference calls and meetings at the office on that day to prevent that decline and alleviate any feelings of loneliness or isolation home-based work can create.
Ms. Janes says high speed Internet access is necessary for faster file transfers and she also strives to maintain a virtual presence in the office using IT. One tool she uses is Mitel's Teleworker Solutions, which allows transparent access to corporate voice and data services, and she also relies on instant messaging to keep in contact with her co-workers.
"Often out-of-sight can lead to out-of-work with a lay-off package, especially in the tech industry. But with the software, everyone can see my status through my logins and see what I'm working on that day," she says. "People have said 'You're not in the office, but boy, do we feel your presence.'"
The president of the Canadian Telework Association says the move towards home-based work is inevitable with society's reliance and growing ease with the latest high tech tools, such as cellphones, IP video conferencing and Blackberries.
"We're getting used to the technology and learning how to do it better," says Bob Fortier, who is also president of an Ottawa-based telework consulting company called Innovisions Canada. "The move to telework is still in its infancy and there are potential drawbacks, but it makes sense for companies looking for cost-savings and experiencing a skills shortage."
He says in Ottawa telework is more prevalent in government offices and the high tech industry, but many smaller companies are seeing the benefits of better employee morale, less absenteeism and reduced overhead costs. He points out that the actual number of teleworkers in Canada is still difficult to track because many companies don't have official policies in place and it's often a situation negotiated between managers and employees.
Another speaker at the CATA WIT forum was Naomi Morisawa de Koven, a business and financing lawyer.
"I started out working in Toronto for a big law firm and now 10 years later I'm working out of my home," she says. "It's been an adjustment, but I still surprised at how satisfying it is to be controlling my own career and my own time."
In order to find success and security as a teleworker, Ms. Morisawa de Koven recommends her clients protect their intellectual property, remember to make confidentiality a priority and safeguard their business assets with the proper insurance coverage.
Although working from home can enhance the life/work balance many people covet, one of the biggest challenges is remembering to leave it behind at the end of the day. Ms. Janes says she has created a number of personal rules to establish boundaries and separate her work and home life, such as no housework and no TV during the day.
"I also have one room dedicated to the office and nothing exists in there at night," she says. "It can be hard to turn work off and I struggled with it, but you have to find a balance or you become your job. I schedule myself out at night and remember that it's still my home."


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