Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Could working any time, any place help people recover from illnesses faster?

Could you tell I haven't been working for the last 10 days?  My guess is ‘no’!  My amazing team has been guest writing and posting some pre-prepared pieces while I have been off recovering from surgery. This experience has me appreciating my work arrangement, as I am just now able to sit at a computer and type.

I am still not even close to being able to drive, and in a normal work environment that would be a problem. I would need to find rides to work, places to rest (as I am only able to work a short burst and then need to recover), or my alternative would be to stay off work for a much longer period of time.

But because of my situation, I am able to work sooner; from the comfort of my home, and at a pace where I am comfortable.  I take a few meetings, or write a few blog posts, and then can go take a quick nap.  So instead of being off work (away from the office is what traditional recovery means) and unproductive for 6 weeks like the doctors recommend, I can start adding value again in small ways much sooner. 

I feel more engaged with both my recovery and my work as I can feel useful and let my mind work verse sitting on my couch watching daytime television. Don't get me wrong, a few good chick flicks is fun, but good grief who thought Bo and Hope would still be on TV after all these years?!

I feel connected to the business and my team, while at the same time able to heal and take care of myself to ensure a smooth and speedy recovery. If I couldn't do anything, or stay connected how hard would it be for me to come back to work after 6 weeks?  I would feel disconnected, awkward, and useless; like no one needed me or missed me.

Now I am excited to do small things that keep me in the loop and keep me feeling connected... this could be a whole new way of getting people back to work sooner and helping them recover easier. Traditionally, I would be told I could come back to a physical office, only once I could drive, then most likely only for part days. That is so prescriptive, it doesn't work for my pain or healing nor does it mean I am available when my team needs me in those set few hours.

The way I am easing in, my team can ping me and I can respond then, when they don't need me I can rest, in the comfort of my own home.

Food for thought.

Ta ta

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

GUEST POST: Leeann Jarman, Workplace 2.0 Pilot Member

Hello, my name is Leeann and I am sharing my experiences as a Workplace 2.0 pilot member. Remember Sherri’s first few posts (mostly about what not to do)? Well I was a part of that that group! What a wild and eventful ride it has been. There have been ups and downs, people politely kicking others out of their pre-booked spaces, and mostly flying by the seat of our pants every day! We are finally settling in to newly formed norms, and a really exciting culture that we never envisioned when we started. Here is short story of why I am thrilled and 110% committed to our results only work environment:

Nov. 18, 2011 - Today is a great day to produce some results… from home! Snow hit hard this morning, it's building up outside and the temperature is below 16 degrees (-25 with wind chill). It's cold, snowy and icy out there.

If I worked in an environment that supported punching the clock and being present so everyone can witness how amazingly productive I am, I would have had to make the 2.5 hour commute downtown this morning. I would have arrived at work, very tired from getting up so early, just to be late anyways. Not to mention, I would be feeling exceptionally cranky from having been stuck in my car doing nothing. And to top it all off… I would have had the same treacherous commute home! Yes, I would have been a huge joy to be around all day ---->

Instead, I rolled out of bed late, played with my son and enjoyed some quiet bonding time this morning. It was a 10 minute commute to drop him off at the day-home and I was up and running within 1 hour, instead of the 3+ hours it would have taken if I was required to go to the office today.

I love my job and I love being empowered to decide how, when and WHERE my work gets done. Especially today. I hope all those suffering from winters blast today do their best to stay afe and warm!


Monday, 21 November 2011

Special Delivery!!

We had a special visitor in our new collaboration space last week. Dave Mowat, the President of ATB Financial, was in the building. Instead of setting up shop in one of the executive offices, he decided to work in our open office space! What a team player:

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Workplace 2.0 in the Media: @SheldonDyck talks shop

Job on a Wire

Telecommuting is becoming increasingly popular, but do you have what it takes to be productive in your pyjamas?

By Steve Macleod
Sheldon Dyck hasn’t had an office in three and a half years.

The president of ATB Investor Services spends a couple of days a week working from home; a day or two traveling or working from a satellite location; and the balance of his work week is spent in a downtown hotel room, a meeting room, or a shared facility with a boardroom.

Even with the sporadic workplace arrangement – and a staff spread across Alberta – Dyck still manages to gather with his team for lunch. But instead of making reservations at a restaurant, Dyck makes sure pretty much everyone on his team has hi-definition video conferencing capability on their computers.

If their laptops are equipped with a good enough camera, employees can join the video conference from a restaurant, a park bench or their kitchen table. Pyjamas hardly ever show up.

“People carry their persona to whatever location they are going to, whether it’s digitally or physically,” he says. “There probably are fewer suits and ties, but people dress for the nature of the meeting.”

For a handful of people, working from their sofa without worrying about getting dressed is the ideal way to spend a workday. However, Dyck says, many ATB employees partaking in a virtual work arrangement do not have either the space or distraction-free setting conducive to being productive at home. For these staff members, being part of “workplace 2.0” is about having the commute time cut to five minutes and having their work judged on being productive and not being present.

Dyck says that as technology emerges from the “old days of laptops and cell phones,” cloud computing has played an important role in helping remote workers stay engaged, but HD video conferencing has been a major shift.

“We’re trying to create as close to an across-the-table situation as possible and body language plays a big part in that,” Dyck says.

As the quality of video conference technology improves, Dyck says the results ATB is getting from its virtual workplace project are substantial. While increased productivity is nice for the Edmonton-based financial institution, Dyck says for some employees, cutting out the daily commute gives back time and money equal to a 20 per cent raise.

How employees manage the extra time is up to them.


When global real estate firm Colliers International released its 11th Annual Parking Survey, Calgarians had proof they live in a world-class city. In this case, the proof came by being the priciest downtown core in Canada to park. The monthly unreserved parking rate in Cowtown now sits at $472.50, which is $140 more than second place Toronto and more than double the national average of $235.76.

The only other city in North America where residents have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for downtown parking is New York City. Unlike public transit in the city that never sleeps, Calgary does not offer 24-hour service throughout the year. Combine that with the area taken up by the sprawling city, and many residents of Calgary see owning a vehicle as essential.

While the buses and trains leading to the city’s core are packed full of commuters during morning rush hour, a good chunk of the workforce drives as part of their daily commuting ritual. According to Statistics Canada, the driving time is getting longer. In 1992, commuters in Canada spent an average of 54 minutes making the round trip drive between work and home. By 1998, commute times across the country increased to 59 minutes and were pegged at 63 minutes in 2006. That’s 275 hours per year or 34 work days.

Calgary Economic Development launched WORKshift in 2009 to help reverse the trend.

“It is the first program like this in North America,” says Robyn Bews, project manager of WORKshift. “The objective is to take a regional approach to promote, educate and accelerate the adoption of virtual work.”
Since its launch, WORKshift has been involved with more than 20 organizations, assisting employers and employees transition to a virtual work strategy. Bews says most companies are slowly integrating the practice with a pilot program and offering employees an opportunity to work out of the office a few days a week.

Perhaps not surprisingly, IT companies were early adopters of allowing employees to work remotely, but Bews says other professions are starting to catch on, such as lawyers, interior designers, geologists and engineers.

“It’s about how you apply the process,” she adds. “You can’t do the same thing for every person and we don’t prescribe a one-size-fits-all solution.”

Extroverts Can Thrive

As it turns out, Bews says, people who are extroverts can have an easier time adjusting. By nature, they are the type of people who like to communicate what they are doing and when doing this remotely, it provides comfort to managers and colleagues that work is getting done away from the office.

“And colleagues say it’s nice to have them out of the office,” she adds.

In order to make a virtual work arrangement succeed, Bews says that communication plays a big part. Technology has integrated instant communication into our daily lives and Bews says we already have all the tools needed to communicate virtually.

“Some companies offer training critical to getting people prepared and recalibrating communications expectations,” says Bews. “You have to focus on communication with peers and managers regularly. That will avoid pitfalls.”

Virtual work arrangements, Bews says, aren’t human resource gimmicks designed to attract junior workers, mothers or senior executives. She says the average demographic of virtual workers is university-educated males in their 40s.

“It’s for the mainstream group,” Bews says. “People want the ability to manage their lives. They decided they want to work when and where they’re most efficient.”

A move from work-life balance to work-life integration might mean scheduling a dentist appointment at 2 p.m. on a Monday and going to see an elementary school Easter pageant at 9:30 a.m. on a Thursday. It will also include working from a home office at 10 p.m. or while sitting in an airport for three hours.

In order to make the most of the experience, Bews says, it’s important to set up an appropriate work space that is separate from personal space. Also, set specific times to be focused on work, but also set specific times to be focused on personal life – and take lunch breaks. But in the end, it comes back to communication.

“Be clear about your availability. Just because I’m not at my desk, doesn’t mean I’m not available,” Bews says. “Here’s my contact information and here’s how to reach me.”

Prior to joining the banking sector, Dyck was an entrepreneur, so he never really had a structured workplace arrangement. After seeing employee and customer satisfaction rise three years into ATB Financial’s virtual work project, he says he wouldn’t work for a company that valued an employee’s physical presence over their ability to be productive.

“We had an adviser working for us in Edmonton who was expecting the birth of his first child,” says Dyck. “He was working really hard with one client, but also wanted to be close to the hospital. So, he took a laptop with an HD camera for video conferencing to the hospital and got hooked up with his client in Grande Prairie.”

The ATB representative closed the deal and was present during the birth of his first child. The employee and the client both got everything they wanted, a timely deal and no disruption of anybody’s personal life.

“In the old days he would have had to delay the client and possibly not get the deal or miss the birth of his first child and regret it for his entire life,” says Dyck. “It’s a tug of war we’ve been in for years of feeling like we’re not succeeding in some aspect of our lives.”

With the right structure and a wardrobe more extensive than pyjamas it’s possible that that tug of war could be virtually eliminated.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Tarps are down! Welcome to Workplace 2.0!!

Finally, the tarps are down and we're ready for lift off! Our pilot launch is on Monday and we can't wait to see how people are using the new flexible workspace. Check it out!!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

RECOMMENDED READING: The State of Telework in the U.S.

Interesting read with lots of transferable learnings for those of us trying unique workplace set ups in Canada!

It is a long read, but some of the cool high lights are around the age of people telecommuting. In this study, they found the greatest proportional difference is among those over 60. This suggests that workplace flexibility is favored by Baby Boomers, perhaps as a way to slowly edge into retirement. Think of the talent experiences we could create for people based on this information at the end of thier career.

So take a quick scan and see what other cool facts catch your attention and let me know your thoughts!

Ta ta

Read: The State of Telework in the U.S.

Within the ATB Network, read: The State of Telework in the U.S.

Why are your employees missing work?

Published in the Harvard Business Review: The Daily Stat,

A Longer Commute Leads to More Absenteeism
Workers with a 50 Kilometer one-way commute can be expected to miss 15% more days from work, on average, than their colleagues who commute 10 Kilometers, according to a study of workers in Germany by Jos N. van Ommeren and Eva Gutierrez-iPuigarnau of VU University in Amsterdam. Commuting distance is usually assumed to affect only employees, not businesses, but the study shows that it also has a strong impact on absenteeism, the researchers say.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

My Team's Top 10 things we wish we had done...

As promised in the previous post, here is the list of items from my team that they wish they had done or wish they hadn't done the first time we went in to our flexible workplace.

We hope this helps everyone save some time and a few embarrasing moments!

10. Taken the time to purge my office before taking everything home!
9.   Moved home AFTER my home-based office was set up with furniture!
8.   Explained to my family that just because I work at home, it doesn’t mean the laundry will get done and dinner will be on the table waiting for them at the end of the day.
7.   Ordered a sound proof door.
6.   Stopped feeling guilty for not working “typical” hours and just work when I am most productive.
5.   Painted the office sooner, not the day before I moved home, talk about PAINT FUMES!
4.   Made an effort to be paperless. Instead I moved a ton of paper files home!
3.   Had thought of how to keep my cats from walking across my screen when I was on video calls.
2.   Cleared the rest of the family’s stuff out of the home office, so it is really just my space.
1.   Not answered a video call while still in my PJ’s with our line President! Oops!

Ta ta

Friday, 4 November 2011

Construction Update: Furniture is in!


If you have been following my blog since the start you will have seen me refer to this book and its key concept of Results Only Work Environment many times.  It is such a fun easy read I thought I would peak your interest so you will want to go and read it as well!

Ta ta

Click the book cover for the Amazon listing and a few sample pages from the book!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

How cool was my day yesterday? You be the judge.

My morning started off as per usual. My husband Roland's alarm went off at 6am, he does not work in an ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment). He gets up, and I snuggle back in to wait for the pitter patter of little 5 year old feet. About 30 minutes later, I hear "good morning mommy". Ahhhh life is good.

We snuggle for a few minutes in the "big bed" (which is a relative term, as when you ask me I would tell you it is only a queen and not nearly big enough, but at 5 it is HUGE). Kolten tells me what color he is in the mood to wear to school and around 7am I slowly wander to his room to pick a matching outfit for the day ahead at kindergarten.

We get ready together in the bathroom, and while I am doing his hair he is busy practicing his new found skill - whistling. When hair is done and teeth are brushed we meander downstairs to have breakfast together and practice his reading for 15 minutes, which usually turns into 25 and we end up rushing to get shoes, coat and backpack on.

We head out into the fresh air to walk to his bus stop talking about what sorts of things he is going to do at school that day, or who he wants to sit next to on the bus. Honestly, these mornings make my day; it is a gift to have this time with him each morning.

I wave good-bye to the bus, (at precisely 7:40am, Mark our bus driver is so punctual) wander back home and turn my computer on. While it boots up, I grab a new cup of tea, bring my grandmother her paper (another story and perhaps a totally different blog...) and then settle in to see what my workday holds all before 8am.

This morning has time blocked for strategy work, a conference call and then at 10am I have an hour coaching session with one of the senior leaders on my team. I know we had planned to do the GROW model around her development plan so I also prep for that. Remember, I still haven't left my home office! The coaching session goes great and neither one of us even noticed we weren't in the same location, as our video technology makes that a non-issue.

Then I head out to have lunch at a great restaurant by my house with a senior segment leader from Investor Services who was also working from home that day. I take my iPad and my blackberry and I am set with all my notes and documents that I need to cover with her while we eat.

I then drive to Chapters to pick up a book for Kolten that I have on hold (how to build the 10 best paper airplanes), and while there grab a peppermint white mocha at the Starbucks. It is now 2:00pm and I have another call. So I settle in to a comfy chair in Chapters with the mocha, my iPad and my blackberry and have a great call with an HR colleague up in Edmonton.

I get back into my car and drive to meet another senior leader from my team for our weekly one-on-one which we decided to do in person closer to her house at 3:30pm. At 4:45pm I am back in my car driving to pick Kolten up while taking another call (HANDS FREE).

Did I mention that while driving to my destinations today, my car read me all new emails coming in on my blackberry...as they came in, which kept me up-to-date and safe?

So what do you think? Does my day sound amazing and productive? Or would you rather have more structure? I would love to hear your thoughts, so leave me a comment!

Ta ta

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

My Team's Top 10 ways to get you and your family ready for working from home!

Let me start by thanking Allison Comeau for this great idea for a post!  As you can see, I listen when you comment on my blog, and I love to use your great suggestions for future posts!

I wanted this Top 10 list to come from my team members, the ones I didn't give a lot of notice to the first time. They didn't have a ton of time to get their families or homes ready for this transition, so I received a LOT of feedback about that!  They sent me so many amazing tips I have split them up, this is the Top 10 list of things they did that really helped their transition home.

10. Redecorated my home office with plants, art and a really comfy chair.
9.   Told my family that a closed door means I am not available to them.
8.   Every morning, I would shower and get ready for work, just like I did when I would drive to the office. (5 people had this one!)
7.   Forced myself to take coffee and lunch breaks, and actually eat away from my computer!
6.   Take my lunch break with my wife and our small daughter, which is a nice social break for me, and great family time I wouldn’t normally have.
5.   Booked “social” time for when I do come to the office as I really miss that aspect when at home for long stretches.
4.   Went for a walk every day around the neighbourhood, instead of to the vending machine in the office.
3.   Learned to turn off OCS and just put my head down and work.
2.   Explained that I do still work as hard as daddy just from different locations.
1.   Hooked up the Aruba!!!!!!!!! THIS BABY IS KING.

Ta ta

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Who had to drive in the snow to work yesterday? MY TEAM DIDN'T!

At my last company I would check the weather each night before I went to bed to see if it was going to snow the next day. I needed to know if I would have to set my alarm extra early so I could give myself an extra hour on the roads to ensure I still got to work "on time". There was NO flexiblity on start time, NO option to work from home, talk about stress and ZERO work-life balance.

Now that I'm at ATB, I don't sit up late at night watching the weather channel! My alarm doesn't change unless it makes sense based on what I need to accomplish the next day. Plus, I know my team is empowered to determine where they will work best each day.

So when I woke up yesterday and looked outside with my son to see how Halloween was shaping up, we were both very surprised as there was a foot of snow! In the past, my heart would start pounding and I would be frantic to make it in to work on time. But not at ATBIS with Workplace 2.0. I got Kolten ready to catch the bus, made a nice breakfast and then went in to the office after the crazy traffic was done. My team made brilliant decisions as well, based on what they needed to get done, and most of them choose to work from home and be productive that way.

The best part is, we all did what worked best for us, we all got the results we needed to yesterday, and no one on my team was stressed by the first snowfall in Calgary! At ATBIS we make our own Snow Days!

Ta ta