By Beecher Tuttle
The idea that a company exists within the four walls of an office is quickly becoming antiquated. Today's enterprises are increasingly relying on remote workers – aka, “teleworkers” – to contribute to their core business.
The newfound prevalence of teleworking is due to a variety of factors, including recent advancements in technology, social trends and the sheer number of benefits that it can provide to both enterprises and their employees. These factors were recently referenced in a recent Enriching Communications posting, The Office is Not Always the Premises, by Bryan Davies, Director of Advanced Communications Solutions at Alcatel-Lucent (ALU).
Companies have begun to accept teleworking as a viable option because of its proven ability to help reduce costs. By hiring remote workers, enterprises can continue to grow in their current facility without needing to add office space or absorb an uptick in energy consumption. In addition, companies can reduce absenteeism by creating fewer impediments to an employee coming to work, says Davies.
But perhaps best of all, teleworking enables a company to recruit and retain top level talent from across the country and even the globe, rather than resigning themselves to hiring the best candidates within a 50-mile radius. Finally, hiring remote working can increase a company's operational reach, enabling them to retain employees in several different time zones and locales.
Looking past operational incentives, teleworking also provides a number of social benefits. Offering this option can take cars off the road, minimizing carbon emissions, and give commuting time back to each worker, further improving employee morale. Another contributing factor is the widespread adoption of social networking, which has made people more accustomed to online interactions.
Clearly, enterprises ready for teleworking just need the technology and the broadband access necessary to make it happen. As such, service providers are in a tremendous position to help enterprises succeed with teleworking helping to make enterprise more productive, flexible and profitable.
Service Providers Well-Positioned to Lend a Hand
Teleworkers cannot thrive with average technology or less than adequate connectivity. To exchange large assets and be mobile, remote employees require faster and more flexible wireless connections in addition to the obvious bandwidth requirements needed to support video telephony and conferencing.
As owners of evolving 4G LTE access networks, service providers are well-positioned to provide these necessary services to enterprises. Operators can tap into the trend of teleworking in a few different ways.
- Promote Cloud-Based Communications: Cloud services enable employees to work not just from home, but from any location with an Internet connection. Service providers have unique advantages in this area because, unlike other types of providers, they can guarantee a superior quality of service (QoS). Available carrier-provided cloud services include hosted IP-PBX, hosted IP Centrex and hosted unified communications solutions.
- Accelerate the Deployment of Video Telephony and Conferencing: These hosted communication solutions benefit enterprises – as they make remote interactions more personal – and service providers, who only need to enable one good connection at each location.
- Hosted Social Networks: By deploying hosted versions of social networking services, operators can help enterprises engage employees at a minimal cost of ownership. On-premise solutions, meanwhile, force enterprises to buy, configure and test servers.
Davies acknowledges that certain barriers do exist that are impeding the progress of teleworking, including employee fear, company culture, security and the lack of interpersonal communication.
However, the technology provided by operators and software vendors can help mitigate these barriers as they push to create a telework-friendly environment.
"Service providers can’t overcome all of the obstacles facing enterprises and remote workers. But with cloud services that encourage connectivity, flexibility and employee interaction, service providers can play an active role in encouraging the telework movement," says Davies.