Work Styles: a view into TELUS’ flexible work program

Developing a high performing, motivated team is a significant focus at TELUS, as it’s well understood that an engaged team positively impacts our customers’ experience. Elevating and inspiring the team to reach success requires a strong corporate culture with clear values. We’ve made significant strides in becoming a best-in-class team culture that differentiates us in a way that’s unmatched by any other organization.

FishOne factor that contributes to our cultural landscape is Work Styles, our flexible work program that gives team members the ability to work where and when they’re most productive.  Ask any TELUS team member what’s great about our work environment, and undoubtedly Work Styles will appear on their list.  The philosophy behind the program is simple: give team members the flexibility to work at home or in the office and they’ll have increased ownership and a strong accountability for reaching their goals.  They’ll also experience better balance and a stronger sense of control, which ultimately leads to increased engagement.  As a result, they will better respond to our customers.

Moving to a flexible work program needs to be thoughtfully planned. Our program was established in 2006 after conducting a study involving 170 team members where we asked them to work from home for as much of the year as possible. Our results showed that retention and engagement rates went up and there were environmental benefits as well: the group saved 114,000 kg in greenhouse gases and 14,000 hours of commuting. The program had tangible benefits, and it has expanded over the last 7 years.  Today, our goal is to have 40 per cent of our team members working on a mobile basis, 30 per cent working within TELUS buildings, and another 30 per cent working from home full time by 2015.

Learn more about our Work Styles program and the benefits:

Attracting top talent

The benefits of a flexible work program are vast when the program is managed well.  In addition to greater performance, increased work-life balance, reduction in harmful environmental pollutants and reduced strain on transportation infrastructure, a flexible work environment has advantages for team member recruitment and retention, which has sustainable impacts on our talent pipeline.

According to a study by Harris / Decima, 89 per cent of employees feel that a flexible work program makes a company more attractive, and flexible work was considered the second most important factor, after money, when Canadians are looking for a new job. In addition, 87 per cent of employees who have worked remotely responded that they are just as productive, if not more, when working away from the office, and 56 per cent said that a flexible work arrangement would motivate them to work harder.

In any organization, a strong network of leaders is essential in driving forward the vision of the business.  A flexible program like Work Styles is therefore critical in attracting top talent who will achieve our goals and set the landscape for our future growth.

Success takes time and effort, and isn’t guaranteed

While we continue to see benefits from our Work Styles program, we’re still on a journey.  The program needs to be consistently monitored, evaluated and well managed to ensure it continues to work for both our team members and our business. Properly implementing a flexible work program in any organization requires complex change management and a shift away from a traditional view of a working environment. It means having the right support, technology and infrastructure so that team members are properly supported as they adopt a working style that suits their needs. It also isn’t fitting for certain roles and industries. For instance, roles that involve one-on-one interaction with customers, or that require close contact with teams or complicated technology aren’t often suitable for mobile or at home work environments. Companies that adopt a flexible work program need to ensure business requirements are still being met, and that the team has ample opportunity to innovate and collaborate.

Committed to an exceptional culture

We’ve come a long way on our journey to becoming an outstanding culture and creating an excellent experience for our team members and our customers.  The success of our Work Styles program is a testament to this, however we’re always striving to improve by learning and adapting our approach. We’re confident that we’re well positioned for success and that by sticking to our goals and remaining committed as a team, we’ll continue to set an example for others.

Hear how our team members are benefiting from the Work Styles program:

Sandy McIntosh is VP, Human Resources for TELUS Customer Solutions.