Statistics Canada’s only report on the topic (2010), based on the General Social Survey data (2008), reported that 11.2% of Canadian employees and 60% of self-employed workers are able to enjoy a very short commute (humour intended) because they work from home. Incidentally, Statistics Canada reported that the average Toronto commuter spends 34 minutes per commute, and nearly 20% spent over an hour each way, just to get to work – the longest daily commute in Canada (2016 census). Bringing this closer to home (pun intended), no data specifically pertaining to Leaside or even Toronto could be obtained. However, using insights provided from the report, we can at least attempt to make an educated guess about the presence of this phenomenon in the ’hood.
What are the characteristics of employees who work from home? They live in urban areas, are professionals and managers, they’re university graduates, and they have personal incomes greater than $60k (in 2008 dollars). Sound familiar? I would suggest that, based on these characteristics, Leaside may have a much higher proportion of people working from home than the reported Canadian average. Why should we care? Because, no matter what order you find yourself trying to prioritize – self, family, work and community – many of us feel overcommitted and distressed. In my opinion, one possible way to ease the load is to work from home. If you’re not already enjoying the benefits of doing so, perhaps you can. If you are in a position to do, I feel it is a viable solution that can get you a step closer to better managing all four facets of life in a meaningful way – a way that is good for your personal well-being, our community, and Leaside’s local economic development. Here is the thinking behind my enthusiasm for this idea.
Balancing self, family, work and community
To begin, we can expect the number of jobs and/or residents to grow to 12,000 in the vicinity of each of our shiny new Eglinton Crosstown stations. This means that our commutes will get worse. On the positive side, this means that there will be plenty of new business opportunities up for grabs for the enterprising self-employed and local businesses. Further, by living and working in Leaside, you might not have thought how that would impact our community and potentially your involvement in it. For example, if you’re buying lunch or entertaining clients in someone else’s neighbourhood, then the possibility of any residual benefits flowing directly back into ours is remote. Not to mention the fact that by spending more daytime hours here you may meet individuals you normally would not, thus strengthening your ties within the community. If you haven’t already thought about a home-based business to take advantage of this potential windfall, then why not? There couldn’t be a better time to do so.
The city’s preliminary neighbourhood census profile (2016) lists a total population of 16,828 for Leaside-Bennington. Relative to the city rate, we have disproportionately more children living here. Without a caregiver, this requires at least one talented parent to put a career on hold for the good of the family. Establishing a home-based business or convincing your employer to allow you to telecommute may pay big dividends by putting some balance back into your life. I would trade an hour of commute time for an extra hour per day with our children every time. Further, our ‘Gen-Y’ or ‘millennial’ population may actually prefer to work from home. In just a few years this group of individuals will become the largest cohort in our workforce. In a 2014 study, The Conference Board of Canada reported that 70% of this often misunderstood, hyper-
connected, uber-social generation would be more satisfied with work if they could do it remotely using cloud software.
The time has come for a Leaside HOME-BIA
There are many reasons to suggest that Leaside is home to a disproportionately large number of people who work from home with that number expected to grow. The types of value-creating jobs and the technology that supports them are those that might not have existed just few years ago. Many are very well suited to be home-based. Just think – a growing army of new ‘mompreneurs,’ ‘dadpreneurs,’ and ‘maturepreneurs’ all taking advantage of the moment and the lifestyle benefits. It is a well-known statistic that over 50% of all employment jobs in Canada come from firms with fewer than four employees (i.e. many self-employed). Wouldn’t it make sense to offer this unheralded group within our community some form of organized support?
I’m sure you’re well aware of the Bayview-Leaside BIA and the Leaside Business Park Association. With support from the city, these member-driven organizations implement programs that work to create a thriving, competitive, and safe business environments in their defined areas. But what about those of us who conduct our business from home? In this regard, I would like to float the idea of Leaside’s first Home-BIA. Yes, a self-help support group for the increasing number of us Leasiders working from home. The Leaside Home-BIA would provide a collaborative forum to develop opportunities through networking with like-minded individuals with complementary expertise, a venue to learn about new technologies and other beneficial home business-oriented tools, create shared buying power and mutually beneficial advocacy.
A Leaside Home-BIA could be a game changer, a group whose economic and community engagement would make a significant and growing contribution to Leaside.
Do you work from home? Are you thinking about starting a home-based business? Would you join the Leaside Home-BIA? Let us know at email@example.com.
Leasider Glenn Asano is a partner and principal consultant for the strategy and business development practice at Centred Performance. He is also an Instructor at Ryerson University.