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Allowing employees to work remotely increases productivity

The modern business model includes more flexibility for the worker. Larger companies are providing a certain number of days in which an employee may work from home if they wish. This allows workers to avoid potentially long commutes every once in a while, starting the day fresh in a comfortable environment.

But, is this more productive?

Productivity is always high in an employers’ priority list, but the old-school thinking that employees should be at work for a certain time and leave at a certain time, sometimes just doesn’t work with the way people are being brought up. In this digital age, post-secondary educators are paving the way for hybrid learning — and working. Students should be in class, but also have an option to listen to seminars and take quizzes online from the comfort of their home. As long as the work is done — the grades reflect it. And yet, when it comes to office work, some

A 2017 FlexJobs study of 5,500 people found that a work-life balance was critical to the productivity and success of a company. Of survey respondents, 62 per cent said they have left or considered leaving a job because of the lack of work flexibility. An even higher response, 66 per cent, said they were more productive working from a home office as there are less interruptions from coworkers, fewer distractions, less commuter stress, and they are removed from office politics.

Technology is also a significant factor. Teleconferencing, email, text, and even the traditional phone call ensure employees are never far from their work. Telus Inc. began allowing employees to work from home part-time, something employees need to earn through high-performance and a history of productivity. According to reports, 92 per cent of staff believe the program has been successful for them and 98 per cent said it improves how they view the company.

A Global Workplace Analysis found that having the ability to work from home is also an economically-sound idea. They say that 78 per cent of employees who call in sick do so because of family issues, personal needs, or stress. Having the ability to work from home reduces time employees will take off for these reasons. It’s also good for an employees mental health, as it allows them more time for themselves before, and after work. They suddenly have the freedom to go to the gym or do some yoga, eat a proper breakfast, and even listen to music at the volume they want. All of these things may seem small, but having time for yourself, even if it is the extra 45 minutes it takes you to commute into the office, makes the world of difference in terms of productivity and focus.

Work flexibility also makes it possible for women to get ahead in their career, especially considering the challenges of both motherhood and the symptoms of our monthly menstruation cycle. Women tend to deal with a lot emotionally, and while this does not interfere with their ability to do their jobs, it can impact the number of days they take off work. For new mothers especially, having the ability to work at home while your child has the flu or if you have a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the afternoon would allow for a more consistent career trajectory.

There are, of course, some challenges in having employees working from home. First of all, the job itself must lend itself to remote telecommuting. It is not for everyone — an employee must be independent and self-directed in order to be productive while without guidance. Trust is also a big factor. A third of employers don’t trust their employees to work while not in the office, and this kind of relationship can lead to micromanaging and acts as a detriment to productivity.

Personally, I think a hybrid model is best, in which an employee is allowed to work from home, but they must be in the office on certain days of the week in order to connect with their bosses and coworkers face to face, attend meetings, and collaborate on projects. Even two days out of five spent working remotely would do wonders for morale, mental health, and productivity.

Perhaps it is the millennial in me, but this business model is the future. City planners are constantly urging businesses to be flexible, as transit overcrowding and congestion on the roadways leads to wasted hours of time during the day. Why not listen to them and make some slight changes for the betterment of your office environment?

What do you think? Do you allow your employees to work from home every once in a while?

Look out for the new Canada 150 glow-in-the-dark toonie

The toonie has always been an emblem of Canadian pride, from its odd nickname to the polar bear that is crested on the heavy coin.

To celebrate Canada’s 150 year festivities, the Royal Canadian Mint hosted a competition where Canadians across the country were invited to submit designs for the toonie that would celebrate the historic occasion. The winner shocked all.

A glow-in-the-dark toonie featuring the northern lights. That’s right, glow-in-the-dark. Keep your eyes peeled because the coin is already in circulation. 

Named “Dance of the Spirits”, the design was created by Dr. Timothy Hsia, a family doctor and his brother Stephen Hsia, a lawyer who are both from Richmond B.C. The two business professionals are both artists are the side and have been working on art projects together since they were children. Timothy came up with the northern lights design and Stephen helped translate it to the computer to make it a piece of digital art.

The Royal Canadian Mint will be releasing three million of these special edition coins and is excited to get to use new and never-used-before technology that will create the world’s first glow-in-the-dark coin. The coin uses a pad-printed process and ink that creates a luminescent coin. In the factory, each toonie is painted with glow-in-the-dark purple and blue paint to imitate the Aurora Borealis, one of Canada’s proudest natural wonders.

The two brothers received $2000 prize money, two tickets to Ottawa for the big reveal, and a special edition of the coins. The two artists are dedicating their win to their grandfather who was a coin collector and often gave them special edition coins as they were growing up. It is also giving the brothers further incentive to go see the Northern Lights, one of the majestic wonders of Canadian nature.

Whether you find out you have one of these deluxe coins in a bar when it suddenly glows-in-the-dark, or you seek out a special edition set, definitely hang on to this toonie to give to your own grandchildren one day — it’s bound to inspire a sense of nostalgic tradition and Canadian pride. 

Have you seen the toonie? Let us know in the comments below!

Woman of the Week: Lisa Martin

Lisa Martin is a testament to perseverance. After facing a hostile takeover of her business and a serious health scare, she returned with force, rebuilding and rebranding her business with immense success.

“When you think your worst nightmare has hit you — it can sometimes prove to be a blessing in disguise,” she said.

Martin is the co-founder and CEO of Hear for Life, a healthcare network that provides diagnosis and preventative hearing services throughout Ontario, including hearing tests, evaluations, hearing aids, and rehabilitative counselling.

It all started with Martin’s sister, Rhonda, who is in the hearing healthcare field and decided to open up a clinic in 1988. As Martin puts it, her sister is the “heart and the hand” of Hear for Life. She takes care of the patients while Martin takes care of the business operations.

In 2013, the company had what Martin calls a near-death experience.  According to Martin, their business associate abruptly and without warning gave away their licence to a competitor, with the support of a supplier. Martin lost everything — their telephone numbers, their locations, their website, but most of all, their money.  They lost about $14 million overnight and were given three months to leave the premises.

“They just gave away my licence agreement [to a competitor] – which is everything. It is where we built our business, housed our clinics,” Martin said. “Lots of my suppliers turned their back on me. They weren’t sure if I was able to make it.”

The worst part of this transition was the confusion. Most of Martin’s patients were seniors in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, and all of a sudden the clinic they visited was no longer the same.

“[Our employees] spent a year phoning people telling people we moved, sending letters with pictures of staff to remind patients who they are. That took, I would say, five to 10 different mail outs and thousands of phone calls to the patients. We even did robocalls to hit everyone, to remind them we have their file – because we owned all the patient files.”

It took Martin and her sister two years to stabilize the company in different locations. By the third year, they had managed to re-brand and recapture the values they held when they first opened the clinics.

“We managed working with our own brand and we were able to capture a whole bunch of new business. But, in the third year there was a little hiccup,” Martin said. That hiccup: she was diagnosed with colon cancer and had to undergo seven months of chemotherapy following a surgery.

Martin should have had a routine colonoscopy in 2013, but she waited three years until the turmoil with the company was over. During the transition, she was hardly sleeping and was plagued with anxiety. She didn’t want to bother with routine medical examinations.

“You can’t let your life get in the way of every of health issue and that means making sure you get screened when you need to get screened. Colon cancer — people don’t think they will get it.  If a girl like me — someone who eats organic, does world games championship-training, runs three times a week, can get it…I was fit, so how did this happen to me?”

“If you are 50, get a colonoscopy. No matter what — don’t miss it.”

But, with the help of her incredibly loyal employees, Martin was able to get better while still keeping her new business afloat.

Martin and her sister have now sold their new company, Hear for Life, and have retained their position and all their staff. “The company that acquired us is an amazing organization nation-wide. You get the same personalized boutique style care, but now we have the backing of a huge organization so people don’t have to worry about being here tomorrow. I get to continue in my role, and my sister continues to work. Nothing has changed except we were able to realize [the company’s] value and have our exit strategy.”

“The Hear for Life brand is here to stay,” she said proudly.

Martin hopes that once the new transition is done, she will be able to help the bigger company grow in the marketplace. She is considering writing a book about her plight with cancer, and she has been asked to do some public speaking events on business for women’s groups.

Martin continues to be active and is considering taking up hockey and running again for the first time since her chemotherapy.

 

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