|By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle
How Contractors are Poised to Reap the Benefits of WORKShift and Other Similar Programs
Flexwork, also known as WORKshift, allows people to work where and when they are most productive. Many companies, organizations and even communities are latching onto the WORKshift strategy as a solution for all sorts of issues – from scarce office space, to recruiting and retention, to leveraging non-local experts and everything in between. Our cities are taking up the flexwork banner in a big way hoping to reduce traffic stress on our cities’ roads and downtown parking and to develop “greener” communities. Led by Calgary, Ottawa and Halifax have recently developed and launched community strategies for encouraging their local companies to embrace this concept; and if other Canadian and US cities aren’t actively pursuing this approach, it’s definitely on their radar.
In Calgary, home of the WORKshift civic movement, early corporate adopters are validating the concept. Provincial companies such as ATB Financial, national companies like Eagle Professional Resources and large international organizations such as TransCanada Pipelines are also on board. They’ve found reasons to leverage technology, carefully adjust and re-align their business and workgroup processes and have rolled WORKshift out to their staff in significant ways. Their stories can be read in Robyn Bews’ book Workshift: Future-Proof Your Organization for the 21st Century. Robyn is Calgary Economic Development’s Executive Director of WORKshift and a key consultant who supported Eagle’s own readiness assessment and preparation for WORKshift. The benefits are huge and include harder to measure soft-wins such as increased levels of engagement, instilling a results-oriented work environment and enabling staff autonomy. Through WORKshift, workers are able to enjoy what has been called “Work-Life Fusion”.
How does this new trend impact the contractor community? Well, for one, contractors are already well positioned to take advantage of the move toward increased telework. As they already operate their own businesses, most have home office space and own the technology needed to support a remote working environment. They are autonomous by nature and may not be working full time hours on their clients’ sites. Many have multiple clients and by carefully managing WORKshift strategies, contractors can avoid unproductive travel between clients and increase their billable hours. In many ways companies, organizations and communities are just beginning to catch up to savvy contractors and their use of remote access, internet and security technologies to support a virtual office.
As both big and small business embrace the concept of WORKshift, the environment will become more conducive to the contractor model. It won’t come without its challenges – security concerns will have to be addressed to enable contractors to connect to their clients’ private networks. While the technology to enable this has existed for some time, companies will need to further consider and expand their security and network access policies to accommodate access to contractors and other 3rd party business partners. The line between employee and contractor may also be further blurred as employees begin to work in ways more typically associated with contractors.
Time will tell, but history has shown that progress marches on and it’s difficult to imagine a future that doesn’t allow people to “fuse” their personal and professional lives and allow them to achieve more in both. To quote Telus: “The future is friendly”. Perhaps even friendlier to contractors who embrace the new opportunity that is WORKshift!
Are you a contractor that has worked in a flexwork environment? What are the benefits? Challenges? Leave us a comment below.