the blog of dan pontefract | “Oh, you’re one of those. You want to work anywhere, anytime.”
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“Oh, you’re one of those. You want to work anywhere, anytime.”

My first few days as a team member at TELUS in November of 2008 were rather interesting.

“Here’s your office, Dan,” said the charming woman, gleefully pointing to a cavernous room that consisted of an oak desk the size of a canoe and a view of the parking lot. “There’s your PC, desk phone…and over here is a table where you can have your meetings.”

She was a lovely woman, doing as she had always done, perhaps a hundred times over.

Of course, I wanted nothing of it, causing a minor stir of incredulity that first day.

“What if we gave back the office, and the PC, and the telephone,” I asked. “Would that be a problem?”

At first, I thought she was about to strike me with the stapler she was holding in her hand. Thankfully, she did nothing of the sort. As a bonus, the stapler looked empty, too, so there would be no staples masquerading as bullets flying past my head.

Pedestrians pass in front of the TELUS Corp. building in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photographer: Aaron Harris/Bloomberg

“You mean,” she began, “you don’t want an office?” She put the stapler down, and for a moment I truly thought she was about to pick up the soon-to-be orphaned desk phone and start hitting me with it.

“Not really,” I awkwardly responded. “I’d like to be able to move around, work from home, be in different buildings and generally work from anywhere.” She was beginning to go for the phone. “But I do appreciate what you’ve done,” I implored with heartfelt sincerity. “I’ll do whatever it takes to ‘send it back,’ if need be.”

My new friend quickly began to connect the dots. “Oh, you’re one of those,” she said. “You want to work anywhere, anytime.”

“Exactly!” I exclaimed. “I want to work anywhere, anytime.”

Without skipping a beat, she replied, “I wish I could do that. I really wish I could work anywhere, anytime.”

These days at TELUS, more people than ever before are working anywhere, anytime. And that type of operating culture is paying dividends in many facets of our overall customer, business, team member and community strategies.

Take for example our employee engagement scores. Since formally implementing Work Styles – a flexible work program empowering team members at TELUS with the tools, resources and support to work when and where they’re most productive – we have witnessed employee engagement shift from 57% to 85%. We utilize Aon Hewitt for our twice-annual engagement surveying, and the firm has informed us that our employee engagement score is “number one globally amongst organizations of similar size and composition.” Not only are we proud of that distinction, in 2015, once again TELUS was named to Canada’s Top 100 Employers list.

But employee engagement is but one aspect that demonstrates TELUS’ flexible working arrangement and model is, err…working.

Since 65% of TELUS team members work from home 100% of the time (called at-home team members) or work from a combination of locations including an office and the home (called mobile team members) we have witnessed a significant contribution to the environment and our communities.

For example, in 2014:

  • We avoided 5,645 tonnes of CO2e simply by driving less to the office; and
  • We saved 1.3 million hours of commuting time that equated to 22.7 million less kilometers on the road.

Furthermore, because we believe in spirited teamwork (whether we’re at an office, at home, at a customer site, or elsewhere) our use of collaborative technologies and reduced travel – and the open leadership principles that we have employed since 2010 – predicts TELUS will save $63.5 million over a 13-year period, monies we can invest into our team members and our Customers First strategy.

Would you be surprised to know TELUS has reduced its overall real estate footprint by one million square feet since 2010 as well? As a result, we’ve lowered our real estate costs by $50 million annually, which also helps our 2020 goal of reducing our overall carbon footprint by 25%.

Simply put, the efforts applied to the TELUS Work Styles program has not only resulted in a return on investment, it has demonstrated a return on engagement and a return on environment. Perhaps it’s a new triple bottom line.

I never did take that office, back in November of 2008. Six-and-a-half years later, I’m still working, anywhere, anytime.

And like many other team members at TELUS, I feel a sense of purpose in my work and a deep commitment to our Customers First strategy.

Now, where was that stapler?

If you’re interested, feel free to download the TELUS Work Styles infographic.

Originally published to Forbes.

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Dan Pontefract is the author of FLAT ARMY: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization and is Chief Envisioner at TELUS Transformation Office. His next book, DUAL PURPOSE: Redefining the Meaning of Work, will publish May 10, 2016.

 

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