With the 2015 Pan Am Games fast approaching, heavy traffic delays threaten the productivity of businesses large and small throughout Toronto, especially those located in the downtown core.
Organizers are banking on Torontonians changing their commuting habits enough to curb congestion by 20 per cent, and are urging businesses to consider providing more flexible work schedules to avoid rush hour traffic, arrange for temporary work locations outside of the downtown core or allow their employees the ability to work from home.
Each of those options, however, comes with a price tag for business owners. Adjusting working hours might affect productivity, temporary office space can be expensive and, while telecommuting is more cost effective than ever before, it often comes with hidden expenses.
Furthermore, telecommuting remains problematic for many employers for reasons of productivity and digital security, both of which need to be addressed before workers are sent home to work with sensitive business information.
While the international sporting event is expected to cause some headaches for local business owners, Wayne Berger, the vice-president of Regus Canada, a workplace provider says that it 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.
Michael Murphy, the Canadian country manager of Citrix, a mobile workspace solutions provider, agrees with that sentiment. He argues that many unforeseen circumstances have caused workplace interruptions across Canada in the past – ranging from extreme weather to sudden power outages – but an event like the Pan Am Games can provide employers with the perfect opportunity to develop a contingency plan.
"Whether it's a pandemic, or a natural disaster, whether its weather related or season related, whether it's a political disruption or a major sporting event, these are all things that are part of our day to day life," he said. "The Pan Am Games, given that it's a planned event, given that people can think about it in advance, it's a good opportunity for businesses to think about a mobility strategy."
Furthermore, a strong mobility strategy, if successful during the Pan Am Games, could even to allow businesses to save on overhead costs moving forward.
"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," said Mr. Murphy. "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."