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Businessman on coffee break in restorant

Adam Radosavljevic/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Canadian companies have been engaged in considerable debate on the pros and cons of implementing a corporate telework policy. The bricks and mortar office isn't going anywhere. There will always be certain situations where office space is required, but the reality is that how we define the "workplace" is changing dramatically. With employees demanding access at any time, from anywhere - adopting mobile work styles is essential to remaining competitive in today's business environment.

Here are the benefits of teleworking for those considering a virtual work environment:

1. Appeal to a younger generation of workers. In a recent Citrix study on the future of the workplace, 47 per cent of Canadian organizations say that attracting talent is a key driver to implementing a teleworking policy. As the economy recovers and aging workers retire, competition will be fierce for the most talented, highly trained individuals. They'll look most favourably on organizations that value the benefits that teleworking provides, like flexibility, mobility and work-life balance.

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2. Recruit the best employees, wherever they are. Teleworking allows the employer to expand recruitment beyond its traditional geographical constraints, and help companies compete more effectively for in-demand candidates, consultants and contractors by offering a more appealing work experience. When work becomes fully mobile and location-independent, hiring need no longer depend on where a candidate, consultant or contractor currently lives, or on their willingness to relocate.

3. Accommodate a wider range of user devices. It's important to remember that not everyone works from home when teleworking. There are also "nomad workers" that work from coffee shops to shared work places and rely on a range of mobile devices to access their corporate data. With the right technology and mobile strategy in place, employees can move from one device to another to work as efficiently as possible.

4. Increase employee retention through a better work-life balance. Work, personal business and family life rarely remain within separate, clearly defined times of day. Sometimes it's a matter of waiting at home for the cable guy, or in a doctor's office with a sick child. Teleworking means Canadians can achieve greater work-life harmony and stay connected to the office to get their work done anytime, anywhere.

5. Ensure corporate data security. When considering a teleworking policy, enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions will securely manage applications and data on any device. With the right technology, critical files and information can be centralized in the data centre - not on the user device. Your teleworking policy can assist IT in preventing data from ever being saved, printed or even shared, which means no corporate assets or intellectual property are compromised.

6. Collaborate in a way that is still personal. Many companies fear that teleworking means a loss in corporate culture. However with today's technology, employees can be more connected than ever. Beyond team meetings, companies can also conduct sophisticated online training and support sessions, product demos, professional development courses and product design workshops via video conference — all without the travel time and expense of a typical business trip.

7. Reduce your company's environmental footprint. Teleworking isn't just good for a company's bottom line. Having employees work from home also reduces stress on the environment and the city's infrastructure. The ecological impact and reduction in carbon emissions can be significant, even if employees are working from home just one day a week.

8. Boost productivity. Giving employees the tools to safely work as they commute can be a great solution to making the most of their daily travel time from home to the office, or between off-site meetings. A call taken via Bluetooth technology, or using a tablet on the train to meet a client deadline can help employees be more efficient and productive.

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9. Achieve seamless business continuity

Business continuity depends in part on ensuring that workers have uninterrupted access to the data and applications their productivity depends on. The same virtualized infrastructure that enables teleworking also provides a highly effective foundation for maintaining business continuity through disruptions of all kinds, planned and unplanned: routine system maintenance, power failures, or even a winter storm.

10. Lower facility costs

A Citrix study predicts that the workplace of the future will provide just seven desks for every 10 office workers. Through desk-sharing models and teleworking, companies can reduce costs by providing space for only a fraction of their total workforce. Employees can book space on an as-needed basis for the days they will actually be in the office. Companies can reduce expenses on everything from rent to utilities, tax, insurance, security, janitorial, repair, maintenance and management fees.

Michael Murphy is the vice-president and country manager of Citrix Canada, a global company that enables mobile work styles, empowering people to work and collaborate from anywhere.

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