Mayor John Tory not only urged employers to implement the two increasingly popular perks but also said managers should be encouraging staff to take public transit during this year’s Pan Am Games and even suggested arranging temporary work locations outside of the downtown core.
“We’re trying to make sure the business community downtown stays very much vibrant during Pan Am but at the same time that people might — with the encouragement of their employers — might be able to have more flexibility in their hours and also to maybe switch their mode of transportation to public transit,” Tory explained.
Officials have warned that those commuting into the downtown core via highways can expect, on average, an additional 20 minutes in rush-hour traffic during the games but Tory said he’s “hopeful” that the city can get some of the biggest employers onside with reducing congestion.
“The objective is not to get a reduction down to zero people coming here, we don’t want that at all,” he said. “The objective is to get a reduction in the traffic that is significant enough that it will offset the closure of some of these lanes and the events that are going on downtown.”
One employer told the Toronto Sun that his organization had already heeded calls; “We have done our part,” he said. “I am allowing employees who live outside the downtown core to work from home.”
Clearly organizations that are yet to embrace flexible working will have a harder task at hand but Wayne Berger, the vice-president of Regus Canada, says the situation presents an opportunity as well; “It gives companies who have been more conservative an opportunity to start investigating other ways employees can work,” he said.
“There’s a good opportunity here to use the Pan Am Games and the Parapan Games to test out and embrace what’s coming anyway,” agreed Michael Murphy, of mobile workplace solutions provider Citrix.
“Companies might be able to look at their real estate footprint, and even shave off a few square feet to offset whatever investment they’re making in a remote access strategy.”
What do you think? Are the Pan-Am games just a pain in the neck or the perfect opportunity to test a new flexible working plan?
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Flexible working hours and the ability to telecommute are often at the top of employee wish lists but they’re not always the easiest perks to provide. Now, HR managers in Toronto are under even more pressure to comply after the city’s mayor made a similar appeal.