Thursday, July 5, 2007

Work While Commuting, says Survey

If Canadians just worked through the commute to the office, we’d be one step closer to closing the supposed productivity gap between us and our neighbours to the south. This is according to a recent survey conducted by Decima Research on behalf of Intel of Canada.

The survey reports that Canadians spend, on average, 240 hours per year traveling to and from work. For those who travel via public transportation (approx. 12%), this time could be used to catch up on work. Of course this would require high-tech devices like notebook PCs, and mobile devices, which Intel says only 11 per cent of companies provide to their employees.

“It’s not about working longer,” says Intel of Canada’s Country Manager Doug Cooper, “It’s about Canadian commuters making better use of their time.”

Cooper says using commuting time or, better yet, adding work-from-home options to a business, will help reduce the need for employees to work overtime at the office. Twenty-six per cent of respondents said their employers have a work-from-home policy, compared to 40% of private sector companies; and 100% of public sector agencies in the U.S. The survey cites interesting Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity data that says Americans work 164 more hours per year than Canadians. (Although, in all fairness, no definition was provided for the term “work”, so this could be subject to interpretation!).

The Institute also claims that closing the work gap between Canada and the U.S. could potentially lead to an increase of almost $12,000 in disposable income to an average household.
Perhaps such initiatives will also help boost Canada’s reputation with our own Conference Board (see related story).

Although I personally don’t commute to work via public transportation, I can’t imagine wanting to use a one-hour morning and afternoon trip home to log on to my PC and start penning an article; or write follow-up e-mails. Nor can I imagine working on a Toronto subway or crowded bus as an even remote possibility during the rush hours. This time is all-important un-wind time. But for those who struggle with extra-long commutes into the office, it’s a no-brainer that work-at-home schedules can only increase productivity rather than reduce it.

The results are based on a total of 4,292 surveys completed online between April 9 and May 31, 2007.

Photo: Toronto Mayor David Miller and Toronto Hydro Telecom President, David Dobbin.

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