Last year, 4.2m people in the UK worked from home, amounting to 13.9% of the country’s workforce, according to the Office of National Statistics, the highest proportion of remote workers recorded since measurements began in 1998. The majority of these were self-employed and more likely to be highly skilled and well paid, with the average hourly rate being £13.23 compared with £10.50 for other workers. The TUC believe that employers are still wary of allowing staff to work from home though, although it can improve productivity and morale, too many employers just don’t trust staff enough to work effectively outside of the office. However, allowing remote working adds to a workplace culture in which employees have a voice and feel that they are valued. This aside, teleworking continues to grow across the globe, year-on-year and this has been facilitated by improved technology and communications. Mobility has enabled better field working, with staff able to deal with paperwork on the fly without having to return to the office. E-learning has improved and is now available on mobile devices, allowing more workers to connect and learn when they’re at home or commuting. And the cloud has meant that technologies such as hosted desktop allow workers to connect from anywhere and access their office desktop applications and work from anywhere with an internet connection.
Managing TeleworkersModern communications are powerful, much cheaper than business systems have been in the past, and incredibly flexible. The cloud has enabled much of this; whilst in the past a worker may have only been able to connect to the office via a VPN, now it’s possible to connect in a variety of ways. Intranet portals are often web-based and allow a user to login from anywhere, from any device. Collaboration technologies are becoming much more widely used and can power video conferencing, VoIP calls, shared workspaces and more. Web 2.0 has become more firmly embedded into the company intranet and the modern worker has access to a myriad of tools such as instant messages, wiki knowledge banks, blogs and even social profiles are becoming more commonly seen in a corporate setting. Many companies are also coming to realise that business is changing too – in the consumer setting social media has made significant changes to the way that we do business and this is creeping into the organisation too. Social media brought about change by essentially shifting the power balance between businesses and consumers. A similar shift is being seen in a corporate setting, with many now looking to become more people-centric and this starts with a business’s own people – its employees. As such, the company that allows its workers to carry out their jobs flexibly, is the one that will ultimately win out.
Corporate CultureFlexibility in working hours and in location allows employees to better construct their days around their families. The 9-5pm day is on the way out and the lines between work and leisure are becoming increasingly blurred. With this in mind, it’s valuable to ensure that communications are set up in such a way that employees can work remotely just as well as they can in the office. Collaboration has been proven to boost productivity and so you should ensure that this too is facilitated. The cloud can be used in the office and for remote workers for:
- Hosted PBX
- Video conferencing
- Shared workspaces
- Remote/hosted desktop