Friday, September 2, 2011

Teleworking - Are we ready?

Our principal consultant, David Abrahams (a.k.a. digitdave) was invited to attend the Telework Forum in Sydney recently. The discussions opened his eyes to how beneficial the high-speed broadband (NBN), could be to many Australians. "The technical and cultural shift in how we work is one of those classic examples of how thousands of businesses doing seemingly small things add up to a huge difference for the country".

Dave cites how a couple of his employees already telework and explains how why he thinks it is a way of keeping "valued staff even if their circumstances change". Unfortunately his staff members belong only to a small percentage (6%) of lucky Australians that actually telework. Research suggests that some people are commuting up to 6 hours daily and there will be a strong desire to reduce the amount of physical commuting. He suspects that research currently being run by the University of Newcastle will confirm his opinion.

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy Stephen Conroy was also present at the forum and said that Australia is quite down in the ranks of teleworking nations. About 10% of US employees telework at least once a month, and more in parts of Europe. In Norway, which in many ways is similar to Australia in economic and social terms, it is close to 20 per cent. They obviously realised years ago that small benefits for individuals can mean big benefits for the nation.

According to Access Economics, if just 10% of Australia's workforce teleworked 50% of the time, Australia would collectively save about 120 million litres of petrol, reduce traffic by 5%, delivering an overall saving of $470 million and 320,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Annual productivity gains of more than $1.4 billion could have been realised.

High speed broadband will change the way we work and here are some tips:
  • Start small and grow your own teleworking initiatives.
  • Trial low quality video conferencing in anticipation of a high quality NBN roll out.
  • Start defining workers by outcomes, not time at a particular desk.
To him, all this means a more productive workforce and ultimately a more profitable local business... a good deal for all.
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