Mayor issues Pan Am plea to employers

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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.

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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  • Sue Buteau on 2015-05-20 9:21:19 AM

    Pan-Am games are the perfect opportunity to test a new flexible working plan? With the regular congestion in the Toronto area I really think companies should be looking at alternatives for their employees that live outside the Toronto core, so take this opportunity and use it proactively as a test run.

  • Manuel on 2015-05-20 1:00:34 PM

    Yes, the politicians are asking us to work from home. This is not a viable option for so many downtown business (eg 8+ hospitals, hotels, retailers/stores, etc.) Even the City of Toronto's 10,000 employees cannot work from home (parks & rec, water purification, road maintenance, daycares, community services, etc.)

    The politicians should have used the 2008 to 2010 period of recession to upgrade our rapid transit system. We ALL knew that then. Instead, they navel-gazed. Check out the systems in the old European cities like Moscow, St. Petersburg, London, etc. whose ability to urban plan is more restrictive than a young growing city like Toronto. Now THAT is public transit.

    I digress. Sorry.

    If we could work from home, wouldn't we be doing that already? Or do some of us enjoy traffic congestion twice per day?

  • Kerri Jean on 2015-06-16 5:41:18 PM

    Flexible hours are a great idea if childcare and summer camps had flexible hours for working parents. Otherwise, this concept does not work for families even if employers permit it. This is a systemic societal issue that is larger than just getting employers and people to agree.

  • Anthony on 2015-07-02 1:44:10 PM

    The PA games are a perfect opportunity to show this city needs better public transit. If the people at city hall would make up their minds and start building subways, eventually things like this wouldn't be a problem.

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