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As many companies downsize their pricey corporate real estate, an increasing number of Canadians are shifting from a busy office environment to working from home for all or part of their week. (Getty Images/Bonnie Jacobs)
As many companies downsize their pricey corporate real estate, an increasing number of Canadians are shifting from a busy office environment to working from home for all or part of their week. (Getty Images/Bonnie Jacobs)

Earlier discussion

How to make flexible work options work for you Add to ...

Nitin Kawale, president of Cisco Canada, believes Canadian companies are being held back by their reluctance to embrace flexible working options.

“This is one of that things that is hamstringing Canadian businesses, and I think it’s slowing down our innovation and productivity,” he says.

At Cisco, they use the company's TelePresence HD video-conferencing platform and Directory, the company's own version of Facebook, to ensure employees have flexible working options.

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“Our folks have access to these tools every minute of every day,” Mr. Kawale notes. “On top of that ... everyone’s enabled on their devices and everyone’s enabled at home. So what happens is 48 per cent of our work is done off-hours and off-premise.”

So can flexible working options really cut costs and increase productivity? And what's the best way to organize a telework initiative in your office? Nitin Kawale joined us for a live discussion earlier.

2:14

Niamh O'Doherty - Hello everyone, my name is Niamh O'Doherty and I'll be moderating this live chat today. Please feel free to send in your questions now.

2:20

Niamh O'Doherty - Everyone, please allow me to introduce Nitin Kawale, president of Cisco Canada. Nitin, in your opinion, is the flexible working trend here to stay?

2:22

[Comment From Nitin Kawale]

Hello everyone...it's great to be here!

2:23

[Comment From Nitin Kawale]

yes, absolutely. I think flexible work environments are definitely here to stay and will proliferate every work environment. It's a reality! And one that our company uses for tremendous competitive advantage.

2:23

Niamh O'Doherty - Thanks Nitin, and welcome. On to the first reader question then, from Robyn:

2:23

[Comment From Robyn Bews]

What is the greatest impediment to large scale adoption within organizations?

2:25

[Comment From Nitin Kawale]

I think it's history and inertia. Companies are accustomed to working certain ways and have opinions about what work is and isn't. We need to focus less on the buildings people are in and the hours they work. We need to focus on the results they produce...regardless of where they are and what time it is.

2:25

[Comment From Jacqueline Sloboda]

Hi Nitin. Thanks so much for initiating discussion on such an important topic. Many Canadian firms are embracing the importance of flexibility in the workplace and the benefits to both the employer and the employee. I had a chance last March to try Cisco Telepresence last year and it's awesome. Do you see it being used more broadly in more geographical areas soon?

2:27

[Comment From Nitin Kawale]

Thanks Jacqueline. We all know that video is a game changer for both businesses and consumers. Using video for business benefit is not a trend...the train has left the station. Our telepresence product line is now five years old...and is among our fastest growing solutions. Working this way is second nature to our employees.

2:29

Niamh O'Doherty - Thanks Nitin. I know working from home has a bit of an image problem; do you think people who work from home really contribute as much as those in the office?

2:30

[Comment From Nitin Kawale]

Without question. There's a stigma about working from home. But if you focus on what people actually deliver...and if you work in a collaborative environment then things are self-correcting when people aren't producing.

2:31

Niamh O'Doherty - So, if you want to encourage your boss to let you work from home, what's the best way to go about it, in your opinion?



2:31

[Comment From Nitin Kawale]

You definitely know it when someone isn't pulling their weight or breaks the value chain. Peer pressure in remote working situations is often stronger than direct supervision.

2:32

[Comment From Nitin Kawale]

Work with your boss to set aggressive metrics that both of you can live with. And track these metrics, together.

2:33

Niamh O'Doherty - So you believe productivity will increase with flexible working, Nitin? Have you seen evidence of this in your own corporate culture?

2:33

[Comment From Nitin Kawale]

I'd also add that at Cisco, 48 per cent of our work is done outside of regular business hours. I dare say that we probably get more time from people outside the office.

2:33

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