On October 19, TELUS and Teletrips announced a unique business solution, promoted and delivered jointly by the two organizations. The Intelligent Enterprise QuickStart system, tools and related services help businesses design and implement more effective flexible-work programs.

Most telecom pundits know TELUS well; however, fewer people are familiar with Teletrips. It defines itself as “the leading provider of online tools that help organizations optimize their triple bottom line performance through Intelligent Workplace and Workforce Management”.  It has developed the SaaS-based Teletrips Work Anywhere System and the Intelligent Enterprise QuickStart set of tools that enables businesses to identify specific characteristics of their workforce (mobile or deskbound, more or less collaborative roles, etc.) and develop effective flexible-work strategies and programs. This data-based approach helps organizations reduce costs, improve employee retention and satisfaction, and better protect the environment – hence the triple bottom line benefits:  return on investment, return on employees, return on environment.

Teletrips boasts successful implementations with major organizations such as TIAA-CREF (The Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund) and TELUS itself. These organizations have been able to gain varying benefits from promoting more flexible work styles.

Many individuals today are consciously making a choice to work from home or various remote locations, and although their motivations may vary, the common objective is to improve their work-life balance. The time saved from lengthy commutes can be used to complete additional work tasks or handle house chores and family-related matters, or it can be invested in personal betterment (sports, entertainment, rest, etc.). While today many organizations readily support such programs, mostly in response to employee-expressed interest in working remotely, few are actively promoting flexible work styles. Many businesses are just not fully aware of the tremendous benefits a more flexible work approach could bring to the individuals, the organization and the environment.

TELUS is sharing the results of its At Home Agent Program (AHA), partly supported by Teletrips. The AHA program is aimed to improve the way TELUS’ call center agents work and live and to promote personal, community and environmental wellness. Of TELUS’ 6,500 call center team members, 1,000 are part of the AHA program and 20 percent of those use the Teletrips People and Places Reporting System (PPRS) tracking tool. This is a web-based interface used to log daily agent commute choices and assess their impact in terms of time savings, fuel and vehicle maintenance savings, and reduced emissions. At the end of the first 24 months since the program was launched, the following results were reported based on the regular entries of about 133 agents:

  • Over $122,000 in total maintenance and fuel savings or approximately $900 per agent per year;
  • Agents avoided driving a total of 903,827 km or about 6,665 km per agent per year;
  • Reduced CO2 emissions by 204 metric tons
  • Agents reported net savings in actual commute time of 14,000 hours or 104 hours per agent per year

TELUS reports savings in furniture, equipment and rent. Additionally, the AHA program has reduced team member absenteeism and attrition, which has also translated into hard-dollar savings from reduced hiring and training costs. Furthermore, AHA members have demonstrated higher engagement levels and greater productivity (estimated as being about 20% higher on average compared to that of the rest of the agents).

Sun Microsystems (which has implemented a flexible work program as well) and TIAA-CREF reported significant savings and benefits as well. Most savings seem to come from real-estate costs, but additional benefits include greater employee satisfaction and morale. Sun Microsystems managed to transition about 56% of its workforce to a flexible work program over a period of about two years. The transition was enabled through advanced technologies such as virtual desktop and thin clients, which helped gain additional savings – for example, the number of desktop support administrators was reduced from 1,100 to 7 (for the support of about 42,000 desktops)!

TELUS and Teletrips are now engaging in a partnership to jointly promote and implement the QuickStart System to help others gain similar benefits. Their approach is based on six key steps to launching a successful flexible-work program:

  • Gather data and size the opportunity: data-based decision making can produce superior results
  • Build a case for change and create a strategy
  • Choose and deploy enabling technology
  • Start a flexible work pilot
  • Measure the impact to the triple bottom line
  • Share your success and duplicate

Additionally, TELUS and Teletrips advise organizations to identify a clear end goal and commit to a planned investment. And even more importantly, acknowledge that this is all about people and that they have to be at the center of this process. TELUS, Sun Microsystems and TIAA-CREF also recommend that organizations pursuing the implementation of a flexible work program should appoint and empower a leader and ensure the cooperation of three key business units – HR, IT and real estate.

TELUS and Teletrips are looking to explore a significant opportunity in the North American market. In the U.S. only, they have estimated about 130 million knowledge workers, 58 million of which are able to work remotely.

I believe technology and changing life styles will drive a continued evolution of work styles as well. A growing number of people will work remotely or wish to do so and it will be important for organizations to ensure they have effective programs in place in order to gain maximum benefits.

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