December 1, 2004
Remote Working Increasing Across Enterprises, According to Global Survey of Senior Executives
BEDMINSTER, N.J., Dec. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- A strong swing has taken place in favor of remote working over the last 12 months, according to a new survey and report on networking and business strategy from AT&T in co-operation with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
Two-thirds of executives surveyed said that at least some of their staff work from home regularly, a substantial increase from the same survey conducted a year earlier. The survey underscores that remote working is a key factor driving corporate success resulting in reduced costs and increased employee productivity.
Remote working also is uppermost in most executives' minds when drawing up their technology strategies: 81 percent of them said that giving remote workers full access to the corporate network is a "critical" or "important" objective.
Broadband access and voice over IP (VoIP) are two crucial enablers of remote working, and, according to the report, adoption of both technologies is skyrocketing. The 2004 AT&T/Economist Intelligence Unit survey reveals that, in the case of 46 percent of companies, broadband access is now installed in the homes of half or more of the workforce, up from just 27 percent in 2003.
Moreover, this proportion is set to leap to 70 percent in 2006. The survey also shows that 21 percent of companies today use VoIP for remote working, and that 79 percent of executives expect their companies to be doing so in two years time. In addition to lowering telephone costs, VoIP gives a remote worker more functionality at home than is available with the traditional office-based private branch exchange (PBX).
"The survey highlights the critical importance of enabling employees to be productive in a 'network-centric' enterprise and shows that effective remote working strategies are now considered vital for success in today's business environment," said Kathleen Flaherty, AT&T chief marketing officer. "The benefits that remote working can bring -- such as lower costs and increased productivity -- combined with technology drivers such as increased broadband penetration and the coming of age of Voice over IP, mean that remote working is no longer just an option for business but has become an essential part of the networking toolbox."
Reflecting these trends, AT&T currently has a VoIP Global Remote Worker trial underway in Europe and Asia with the participation of 23 multinationals. The trial is confirming the advantages of VoIP for teleworking. Trial participants enjoy easy access to AT&T's advanced VoIP calling features. These include features such as Personal Conferencing, which make it quick and easy for participants to establish impromptu conference calls with up to ten individuals. Voicemail with eFeatures allows participants to hear their messages by phone or PC and forward them to anyone in the world via e-mail. Call Logs allow participants to track and monitor their calling habits or move frequently called numbers into their personal Phone Book for click-to-dial access.
Strategies to make remote working work
Remote working policies however, require careful planning and ongoing monitoring by managers to work effectively, according to the AT&T/Economist Intelligence Unit survey. The report offers practical advice for companies looking to introduce effective remote working strategies including:
* Carry out an audit throughout the company to find out which jobs are
suitable for remote working.
* HR, IT and facilities management needs to be brought together to manage
a remote working program effectively.
* Engage the support of departmental managers. They are often the
sticking point for remote working programs, as they perceive it as a
threat to their control.
* Avoid hasty implementation. The technology and HR issues must have been
fully resolved or the program will flounder. How to maintain a distinct
corporate culture among a dispersed workforce also needs careful
* Security in the form of a virtual private network (VPN) is recommended.
A home is not inherently less secure than an office and is likely to
have fewer strangers passing in and out!
* Consider offering to finance home office equipment and to pay for
monthly broadband charges.
* Ensure that interaction between managers and remote workers is sustained
and includes regular appraisals. A remote working program cannot succeed
if this is overlooked.
"Telework arrangements -- by their very nature -- encourage managers to pay special attention to employee productivity," says Joseph Roitz, AT&T's director of teleworking. AT&T itself has successfully embraced remote working, and the most recent figures show the company benefits from $180 million per year in operational savings from the policy. Most of this is due to increased productivity ($148 million), and savings in real-estate costs ($34 million). The percentage of AT&T managers who telework full-time in a "Virtual Office" increased to 22 percent during 2003, more than doubling since 2001.
More information on telework and the report, The remote working revolution, are available at http://www.att.com/presskit/eiu/.
Survey & Research Methodology:
As part of the research for the paper, the Economist Intelligence Unit conducted an online worldwide survey of 254 executives. The majority of respondents came from Europe (40 percent), North America (27 percent) and Asia-Pacific (21 percent). Other respondents came from Latin America the Middle East and Africa. The top five industry sectors represented by the survey respondents were financial services, professional services, manufacturing, transportation and energy. In addition to the survey research, the EIU conducted a series of one-to-one in-depth interviews with senior executives and analysts. The survey was run in March and April 2004, while the interviews and other research was conducted August and September 2004.
About The Economist Intelligence Unit
The Economist Intelligence Unit (http://www.eiu.com/) is the business information arm of The Economist Group, publisher of The Economist. Through its global network of over 500 analysts, the Economist Intelligence Unit continuously assesses and forecasts political, economic and business conditions in nearly 200 countries. As the world's leading provider of country intelligence, the Economist Intelligence Unit helps executives make better business decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis on worldwide market trends and business strategies.
For more than 125 years, AT&T (NYSE "T") has been known for unparalleled quality and reliability in communications. Backed by the research and development capabilities of AT&T Labs, the company is a global leader in local, long distance, Internet and transaction-based voice and data services.
Web site: http://www.eiu.com/http://www.att.com/presskit/eiu