Written by Lori Thiessen

As we Vancouverites are now just 100 days away from the 2010 Winter Olympics, I wanted to reflect on what I’ve been witnessing.

Since about March or April 2009, I’ve been hearing people talking about prepping for the huge influx of people and activity in our relatively small, sea-side city. From what I’ve heard, I have a feeling that there will be very few Vancouverites left to welcome the world when they come and very few people to tend to the needs of the world — at least in the downtown core.

Apparently, there has been a huge scramble over people booking holidays in January.  I overheard a couple of Vancouver Public Library workers who were discussing the ‘challenge’ of trying to accommodate the above-average number of vacation requests for January.

The other conversation I’ve been hearing with great frequency is working from home. Remote working has suddenly become an intense topic of conversation for both workers and managers alike in Vancouver.

For those of you who don’t know the geography of Vancouver, please allow me to draw you a brief picture. It’s a beautiful city bounded on one side by the sea and by three sides by mountains. The downtown core (the financial district) is made up of relatively narrow streets with every available square inch dedicated to either skyscrapers or pay parking.

Driving into Vancouver is a nightmare at the best of times and the price to park in downtown Vancouver verges on daylight robbery. Taking transit can be fraught with frustration even if you know the buses/trains/sea bus you need to take because they run late, or break down constantly or not at all if the bus driver calls in sick.  The buses and trains are generally packed beyond a safe capacity at peak commuter hours. Add in the grey rain tiddling down at a steady, depressing rate and you have a situation irritating enough to make a saint swear.

So it only makes sense to stay at home with a hot cup of tea, hovering over a nice toasty warm computer. It seems to me that a lot of companies who have offices in the downtown core or nearby will be scrambling in November and December to put remote working plans in place.

However, not everybody’s work will allow for this. A friend of mine has quite a successful counselling practice located in uptown Vancouver.  She received a notice from either the building management company where her office is located or the local business association advising people to bug out during the Olympics or at least be nice to the Olympic tourists if they have to be in the downtown core to conduct business.

All this panic about being anywhere else but the office, especially an office downtown, has me thinking.

Will the Olympics serve as the catalyst to change how business is done in Vancouver? Will Vancouver be in the vanguard of business centres to make remote working the normal way to conduct business rather than just a novelty? Or will the Olympics give the Vancouver business community the boost it needs to catch up to places like San Francisco where the trend started in the first place or London, UK where remote working seems to have caught on like wildfire?

What are your thoughts on this?

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll save you a seat until next time!

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