The cultural shift that has created a generation of nomadic workers has become a lobbying force to adopt new communications tools that can deliver the same efficiency and productivity benefits remotely as phone, fax and e-mail currently do in the office.
That is the primary finding of a detailed study conducted for Telewest Business by Manchester Business School, which questioned mid-level managers at private companies and public sector organisations about how communication tools impacted productivity.
Of the survey, carried out during January and February this year among UK businesses in the public and private sectors with between 50 and 1000+ employees, 86% made remote and flexible working available to employees, with the majority from the manufacturing and public sector. Giving staff more flexibility also makes them want to work harder, makes them prepared to be more accommodating with demands on their time and gives them a greater sense of responsibility, the report highlighted.
Telewest said that people are used to being able to access e-mail and IM at home, but organisations are increasingly aware of the need to ensure that staff have the right business-grade tools required to work from anywhere, in order to make the initiative a success.
Disadvantages to remote working cited in the survey focused on people not being available and poor technology, highlighting the need for presence-based tools designed for business rather than residential use. IM or person-to-person PC-based videoconferencing, for example, will enable staff to access, share and send information and collaborate with their team wherever they are, without adding to infrastructure complexity.
“The key to making remote working successful is to ensure that staff have the same technology communications available as they would in the office, in order to maintain levels of productivity and maximise investment in the practice,” said Julien St.John-Dennis, director of voice at Telewest Business. “Remote working is no longer just a home/office divide, it is about being able to communicate with others and work productively anywhere in the world.”