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WORKshifting: What’s Your Story?

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I recently attended Toronto’s Mesh Conference, where I shared a meal with the co-author of Storyscaping, Darren “Daz” McColl. It got me thinking a lot about how the role of storytelling helps us transform behaviour.

At the end of the day, I’m in the business of cultural and behavioural transformation. WORKshift improves employee engagement, optimizes real estate costs and relieves pressure on infrastructure in cities (and hello, Toronto, you need this right now!). Nobody is going to tell you that any of those outcomes are bad, yet there is still an emotional, almost negative, response from many leaders towards virtual or flexible work. Even today when more of our meetings, interactions and work is done from outside of a traditional office. Even when commuters tell you they want to cry and punch their walls when they get home. Even when technology continues to make it easier to get work done remotely. Why don’t more people take advantage of workshifting?

It’s because we have not yet been able to craft a story compelling enough to elicit change. We are still bent on proving the business case, even though it’s clear and well documented now. In most of my meetings, you will find me rattling off a series of facts and statistics to encourage people to start accepting the new world of work. But the truth is, no fact or stat can change decades of habits. What I need is a great story that will help people feel the change and imagine what life might look like in a WORKshift environment.

This month we launched a campaign to do just that. We interviewed over 40 Canadians (including Calgary’s mayor, by the way – Mr. Storyteller himself) and asked them to help us tell the story of WORKshift. What is the greatest myth? What does the future of work look like? We think that in today’s world, harnessing the power of storytelling will accomplish more than any ROI or business case. At the very heart of it, WORKshift isn’t about abstract statistics or traffic reduction, but rather, as Amber Mac said in our panel discussion at Mesh, it’s about freedom.

Watch some of our stories from across the country. And if you’d like, please share your own story about workshifting.

Photo Credit: Lívia Cristina via Compfight cc

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Robyn Bews
Robyn Bews is the Executive Director of WORKshift. As a result of Robyn’s leadership, advocacy and management, WORKshift has grown from Canada’s first regional telework project to a national not-for-profit and the defacto brand for all things related to flexible work in Canada which is now operational in Ottawa, Calgary and Halifax. Robyn is the co-author of Workshift, a book dedicated to supporting organizations and their leaders successfully adopt flexible cultures.