Telework can keep cars off the road. It can save companies and employees money. And it can certainly increase employee productivity. In recognition of the rising cost of fuel, and increasing concerns about the state of the environment, Nortel (TSX:NT)(NYSE:NT) is reiterating its policy providing workplace flexibility.
"The ability to work from home using our Unified Communication solutions has a real impact on my wallet and on my quality of life," said April Dunford, a Nortel teleworker. "A lot of people have a stereotype about teleworkers rolling out of bed late and sitting in their pajamas all day. I just don’t get that. I get an early start to the day and get more things done. I can email, IM, and video conference right from my kitchen table. And the best part is that I do not have to fill up my gas tank as often and I feel like I am doing my small part for the environment by keeping my car off the road."
As part of its mobility-oriented Integrated Work Environment program, Nortel has been actively encouraging telework as a way for employees to balance their work and personal lives for 15 years. About 80% of Nortel employees are equipped to telework, while 10% work out of a home office on a full-time basis. Here are the benefits Nortel has experienced:
Employees who work from home one day a week save an estimated US $500 a year on fuel costs
An estimated 15% increase in productivity among teleworkers, with 94% of them reporting 15% to 20% greater productivity
An 11% increase in satisfaction among teleworkers compared to the overall employee population
Annual real estate savings of about US $9,000 per full-time teleworker
Savings of approximately US $22 million per year in real estate costs and associated energy usage
18% of employees chose "Flexibility" as the #1 reason they like Nortel
Based on reduced electricity consumption, Nortel’s 2,500 registered teleworkers decrease the company’s carbon emissions, by 18,070 metric tonnes per year.
So you say, "That’s great for Nortel but I don’t work for you, what can I do?" Here’s what you need to get your company - big or small - to think about in order to put telework into action:
THE TELEWORK PRIMER
Here’s a primer on how all companies can help their employees cut fuel costs by putting telework into practice.
Provide employees with how-to instructions for teleworking. Include a checklist for evaluating the home environment (e.g. dedicated space) and lifestyle requirements (e.g. day care, elder care)
Provide 24x7 help desk support, including remote technical support
Supervisor and employee self-assessments can help workers discover if teleworking will work for them, by asking questions such as:
How can managers support employees who telework? What type of training do they need to do so? How can work assignments be clarified to support remote working? What feedback mechanisms are needed?
Do employees’ jobs allow them to telework? Are they disciplined and self-motivated? How well do they manage their time? Do they prefer or do their jobs require frequent in-person interactions?
Teleworkers won’t avoid the office completely but they will be going in less frequently. Based on this:
Re-examine how much office space you have, and how much you’ll need
Establish and maintain drop-in areas and collaborative spaces for teams
Organization should look to deploy unified communications (UC), which provide teleworkers some of the essential tools to work more productively not only at home, but also while in the office.
Today, new unified communications tools are providing telecommuters with even greater improvements in productivity, personalization and collaboration. Unified communications provide presence features that enable people to know if their recipient is available and by what means they should be contacted, increasing the effectiveness of business communications, regardless of location.
Provide teleworkers with a soft-client that can deliver reliable VoIP services to ensure they can make calls cost effectively. Soft clients also enable connectivity to audio conferencing and video conferencing.
Provide collaboration tools to employees so they can share projects real time regardless of their locations. This is ideal for working with colleagues in other offices around the globe, not just for teleworkers.
To ensure a secure connection to the corporate network, organizations need to configure every desktop computer with VPN client software by default.
Teleworkers - or all users for that matter - can simply connect to a local Internet service provider (cable modem or DSL) and tunnel into a Nortel VPN or VPN Gateway located at the enterprise.
Alternatively other methods are available such as Nortel’s Remote Access Manager (RAM) which is a hosted service that allows your company to support their employees over as many ISPs as they need regardless of location around the globe.
The employee can select the local preferred internet POP and initiate a secure VPN to the corporate network.
A key component of any remote access solution is the firewall. Firewall helps prevent unsecured PCs from infecting the enterprise network. [June 27, 2008]
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