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Clogged and congested, drivers suck back exhaust during their commute to and from Montréal’s gridlocked island.

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It’s off telework we go…
By Melanie Sharpe

More than a million Canadians avoid rush hour traffic nowadays by commuting electronically to work.

Telecommuting supporters say there are numerous benefits to working outside of the office, but compared to countries like Japan, Australia and the U.S., Canadians are failing to take advantage of it.


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Bob Fortier, president of the Canadian Telework Association, says the advantages of telecommuting have not yet hit the radars of most Canadians.

“There is evidence of two things,” says Fortier. “One, that we’re lagging behind other countries and two, there are so many concrete strategies elsewhere that we should be taking advantage of here.”

Fortier says telecommuting saves time, money and has considerable environmental benefits. “The net result is a significant reduction in travel, which translates into less pollution,” he says.

For example, Fortier’s association reports that one million telecommuters working from home for one day a week saves 250 million kilograms of carbon dioxide, $40 million in fuel and 800 fewer kilometres of mileage on streets and highways.

Opposition to telecommuting is usually traced back to what supporters have labelled ‘managerial resistance’. Employers believe productivity will decline when workers are outside of the formal office setting.

But a number of studies and business experiences have shown the complete opposite.

Studies of IBM and American Express employees have shown higher productivity through telecommuting. The InnoVision Canada website states that productivity increases by 10 to 20 percent just by teleworking one to three days a week.

“When people start working at home in an environment with fewer interruptions, productivity goes up,” says Fortier.

Fortier also says he’s confident Canadian reluctance toward telecommuting will change.

“Many of the issues that today’s cities have ranging from budgetary issues to sprawling to major transportation issues, telework has the potential to have a direct impact,” he says.

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