Study: IT key to successful telecommuting programs

Here’s one way IT can cut costs and boost their organizations’ overall productivity: getting ready to support a telecommuting program. 

Increasing telecommuting among the company’s employees can boost productivity, give them more time to spend working, and improve their morale and job satisfaction by increasing their personal time, as well.

That’s according a recent pilot study conducted by British telecom company O2. More than 2,500 of the employees at O2′s headquarters in Slough worked from home for one day in February. Just 125 mission-critical staff members remained at the office.

The results of the test were overwhelmingly positive, with most of the employees reporting they were able to save time while still getting as much or more done. According to a survey conducted after the telecommuting trial:

  1. 88% of employees said they were at least as productive as they are during a typical day in the office
  2. 36% were more productive, and
  3. The majority (52%) of the time saved by cutting out the commute was spent working.

In total, one day of telecommuting gave O2 approximately 1,000 additional work hours from employees.

Despite spending more time working, employees were able to use some of the time for themselves, with 16% saying they were able to sleep a little more and 14% reporting that they got to spend more time with their families that day.

In addition to boosts in productivity and morale, O2 estimates its employees avoided about 12.2 tons of CO2 emissions. The company also reduced electricity consumption by 12% and water usage by 53% for the day.

O2 points out that the right technology must be in place for users to successfully telecommute — the success of the study was in part attributed to a newly strengthened corporate network and upgraded collaboration tools. Steps the company took before the study included:

  1. Upgrading Virtual Private Network (VPN) systems
  2. Automatically redirecting traffic between servers in different locations to make sure the load was spread evenly and avoid bottlenecks, and
  3. Deploying new software to allow for document sharing and video and audio conferencing.

As a result of planning properly and making necessary deployments, the company’s help desk reported the same number of support calls as on a normal day.

For more, read our earlier post on steps IT must take to get employees ready to telecommute.

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