Julie Wynn, SmartTrip Coordinator

workingathome2“Good morning Halifax. The next blast of winter weather is upon us. Forecasters predict a blizzard warning with strong winds gusting up to 100 km/h with as much as 50 cm of snow expected to fall. RCMP are recommending motorist to stay off the roads…”

Whether you are an employer or employee, we all dread waking up to the reports of the snowstorm that we know is bound happen (likely more than once) every winter. The gut-clenching, white-knuckle commute; employees arriving 2 hours late; the gridlock and inevitable accidents. It all adds up to a very frustrating, unproductive, stressful day for everyone.

Of course, we should be finished with this forecast for a while, but what if there was a way to better prepare organizations and employees to “weather the storm” before it strikes? There is a way and it’s called WORKshift.

WORKshift is not a different way of working but rather an extension of the way we/you all are already operating. It is the ability to work when and where employees and managers determine they are most effective, productive or needed – in a work environment where the employees and managers are supported by the organization’s leadership, the IT infrastructure, and most importantly the corporate culture. No more loss of productivity on a snow day.

What are the first steps to make WORKshift a reality at your workplace?

  • Understand what WORKshift is and who else is doing it:   It is not about working at home 5 days a week; it is about having the permission, acceptance and common sense to work at home or closer to home when you just don’t need to make that drive. Take some time to research and explore what other companies are doing and how they are doing it.
  • Identify potential departments/business units in your company: Work with your HR department and a “corporate champion” to look at which teams or departments can do their job without always coming into the office, ie: marketing, sales and IT quite often work remotely. Larger companies typically roll this out in a phased approach instead of implementing across the whole company, smaller companies may be more agile.
  • Develop a WORKshift pilot program: Test it out, but before you do; develop an employee/employer agreement and a WORKshift policy. It is important to set out expectations, targets and guidelines early on so that everyone is on the same page. What are the job duties, work schedule, is there a set period everyday where employees should be online? How does the team stay in touch? Is the technology and equipment in place? How will productivity be measured?
  • Look at lessons learned: After your program has been rolling for a couple of months, circle back with the participants to get their feedback on what they found most effective or ineffective. WORKshift is a cultural shift whereby success is measured by results and output, rather than line of sight and “presenteeism” and is a choice.   Revisit the criteria, policy and agreements.
  • Implement to a larger employee base: Roll the program out to a larger group. Ensure you have a formal WORKshift policy; know how work will get done, how people will communicate, and any best practices. Develop a communication plan for announcing and rolling out the program, let employees know the option is available and how they can take advantage of it.

Change is hard and cultural changes are some of the most challenging.   Chances are that your company already has all the right technologies in place; you may just need to make some adjustments to management styles to support remote work successfully. Consider how flexible work and WORKshift can help your organization be better prepared to weather those nasty Halifax winters.

Want to get rolling but still not sure? WORKshift Halifax works with organizations to establish a plan, structure and metrics to set up a successful flexible work programs. If you are looking for a roadmap or have a successful flexible work story to tell, contact workshift@halifax.ca

WORKshift – http://www.workshiftcanada.com/halifax

SmartTrip – http://www.halifax.ca/smarttrip/WORKshift.html

Julie Wynn – SmartTrip Coordinator 902-490-4160