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BMO Poll: Canadian Businesses Report Significant Divide on the Benefits of Telecommuting

- Telecommuting defined as working remotely from outside the office

- Companies based in Alberta most likely to offer telecommuting

- Large businesses twice as likely to offer telecommuting

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 26, 2013) - According to a BMO Bank of Montreal poll of Canadian business owners, there is a significant difference of opinion on whether telecommuting supports employee morale and productivity.

Among Canadian businesses who offer telecommuting - the ability to work remotely from outside the office - to their employees, 65 per cent report it had a positive impact on employee productivity and 58 per cent report it improved the quality of work produced by those employees who telecommute.

However, the report also indicates a number of Canadian businesses are hesitant to offer telecommuting, with 61 per cent citing concerns about the possibility of lower morale and 53 per cent troubled by the prospect of a loss of productivity.

The report, conducted by Pollara, explored business owners' views about the impact that telecommuting had on their business operations, and revealed:

  • Two-thirds (64 per cent) of companies found telecommuting had a positive impact on morale and the ability to attract and retain talented employees
  • More than half (54 per cent) of companies reported a reduction in office and overhead expenses

"In an evolving workforce, Canadian businesses are fighting to be flexible, innovative and enticing by offering incentives that will benefit not only the organization, but also their employees," said Steve Murphy, Senior Vice President, Commercial Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal. "These flexible work arrangements help employees achieve greater work-life balance, improve workplace productivity and strengthen employee morale."

Currently, 23 per cent of companies offer telecommuting. Large businesses are twice as likely to offer telecommuting (47 per cent of large businesses vs. 22 per cent for small businesses), while fewer than one-tenth (8 per cent) of employees of all businesses work remotely.

Michael Thornburrow, Senior Vice President, Corporate Real Estate, BMO Financial Group, notes being a mobile worker does not necessarily mean working from home. "In fact, mobile workers can be among a company's more productive workers because they often work at different locations within the company or at client's site. Recognizing this, as well as wanting to avoid the cost of empty workstations when employees are on the road, on vacation or sick, many employers are moving to "hoteling" - where employees do not necessarily sit at the same workstation everyday. This approach provides a more flexible environment, and can lead to improvements in employee productivity, employee satisfaction as well as real estate savings."

Companies Who Offer Telecommuting By Region

Regionally, the report found companies based in Alberta were most likely to offer telecommuting to their employees (34 per cent), while companies based in Atlantic Provinces were the least likely (16 per cent).

Overall Atlantic Quebec Ontario Prairies Sask Alberta BC
Companies who offer telecommuting 23 % 16 % 23 % 20 % 23 % 23 % 34 % 26%

Companies Who Offer Telecommuting by Sector

  • Business/finance: 28 per cent
  • Manufacturing: 14 per cent
  • Retail: 14 per cent
  • Services: 13 per cent
  • Agri-business: 3 per cent

The report was conducted via Pollara with a sample of 500 Canadian business owners, conducted between February 25th and March 15th, 2013. The margin of error for this survey is ± 4.4%, 19 times out of 20. Data has been weighted by region and company size, based on a December 2011 Statistics Canada Study, so that it is representative of all Canadian business owners.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $542 billion as at January 31, 2013, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

Canada's Top Employer

Earlier in the year, BMO was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Canadians Over 40, GTA Top Employer for 2013 and one of Canada's Top 100 Employers. The reasons for BMO's selection can be found at:

For further information:
Media Contacts:
Matt Duffin, Toronto
(416) 867-3996

Valerie Doucet, Montreal
(514) 877-8224

Laurie Grant, Vancouver
(604) 665-7596

Twitter: @BMOmedia