If you thought that work flexibility was just an American dream amongst the U.S. workforce, think again. Our neighbors to the north are also highly interested in flexible work options, and in particular, Calgary is leading the charge.
Calgary’s 15,000 government employees have a choice of several flexible work programs and job schedules, including the ability to work part-time, telecommute, job share, and have a compressed workweek (in which employees work longer hours but fewer days weekly). Employees also have the option of working in various hubs or coworking spaces throughout Calgary so as to better perform at their jobs. So when in June 2013, Calgary was affected by severe flooding, business went on as usual because government workers were already used to remote work practices.
Calgary is proud of its ability to embrace telecommuting. So much so that on the city’s official page, there’s an entire section dedicated to Calgary’s flexible work options. Various types of remote work options are explained, along with a strong mission statement:
“The City of Calgary endeavours to create the most productive work environment possible. Flexible work also helps achieve a productive work environment by improving employee retention, reducing absenteeism, improving employee morale, and increasing customer satisfaction…. All these factors are intended to contribute to overall productivity and support the corporate values.”
Mayor Naheed Nenshi is particularly passionate about making remote work, well, work for Calgary. Awarded the World Mayor Prize in February 2015, Nenshi is a proponent of flexible work options and aspires to continue building better communities. According to his official bio, “His real passion is to make cities, especially Calgary, work better. He’s the lead author of Building Up: Making Canada’s Cities Magnets for Talent and Engines of Development and has long put his ideas to work in Calgary.”
Mayor Nenshi shared with 1 Million for Work Flexibility, “By creating an environment where people can work from home, we’re really helping to manage infrastructure congestion. This is a big deal when it comes to the future of our cities. It is the most cost-effective way to keep our cities moving without having to build more roads or subways. Even if someone is only working from home for part of their day—if they are using city infrastructure at non-peak periods—they are helping us create a much more efficient transportation network.”
And Mayor Nenshi isn’t the only official advocating for flex. Calgary’s City Council is also urging more businesses to adopt flexible hours in an attempt to reduce crushing commuter traffic. “Congestion, frankly, is impacting our quality of life, our productivity, and our environment,” Ald. Richard Pootmans said in the Calgary Metro News article, “Calgary Council Urges Flexible Work Hours to ‘Spread Out’ Rush Hour.” Mayor Nenshi agreed with the statement and noted, “I myself am an example of that,” adding, “I typically don’t take meetings early in the morning. I do work from home early in the mornings.”
Calgary Economic Development, a not-for-profit corporation funded by the City of Calgary, leads the way in the city’s flexible work through their WORKshift Canada initiative, the established thought leader and authoritative voice on flexible work practices in Canada.
It’s refreshing to see Calgary take such initiative to make flexible work options part of the way the people of Calgary live and work. Hopefully, other cities (and other regions across the globe) will take a cue from our northern neighbors and encourage widespread adoption of flex—for business, for the environment, and for quality of life.
photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com