Are telecommuting and virtual working the future of business?
Modem. Pager. Floppy disk. A decade ago, all these terms were on the cutting edge of technology. Now they’re extinct. If experience has taught us anything, it’s that technology is a deft executioner.
So what will be the next casualty of tech development? The Internet is full of speculation that the nine to five is on borrowed time. In ten years, will the words office and commute be no more than the fossils of former words, too?
A few months ago, in the UK, the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg launched an initiative that will make it easier for UK workers to get flexible working hours. This was revolutionary news for the country. However, there is actually evidence that Nick is late to the party.
According to Forrester Research, more than 34 million workers work from home or telecommute at least once a week in the USA. Thanks to broadband advancements and the improvement of virtual conferencing facilities, it’s thought that this figure will rise to 63 million by 2016.
In fact, earlier this year, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills released a report that suggested that virtual staff and flexible working will become commonplace in the UK by 2030.
Reasons for why telecommuting and flexible working would benefit the world’s workforce now come thick and fast. Telecoms giant BT rolled out flexible working within its company recently after conducting research that revealed that employees who worked from home were 20 percent more productive than their office-bound colleagues.
The Global Workplace Analytics company, meanwhile, have carried out studies that suggest the adoption of telecommuting across America could save American businesses $700 million every year from the costs of absenteeism, real estate, utilities and productivity.
Californian coding company Treehouse are leading the way when it comes to the new working culture. The company works a four-day work week and has done since 2006.
“The premise is pretty simple,” explained company founder Ryan Carson in an interview with OfficeVibe. “We are info workers do we don’t need to be on the factory floor or interfacing with customers. We asked can we get five days of work done in four and we presumed the best of our employees and let them be more efficient by just being smarter and working faster.
“So far it’s been working. We’ve grown the company to 70 people and raised 13 million dollars in funding. Something about it must work.”
And there’s no shortage of evidence to suggest that the business people of the world want to embrace a new flexible working week. Global Workplace Analytics also discovered that certain Americans want the option so much that 25 percent would be willing to take a pay cut in order to make it a reality.
This is hardly surprising when the average worker would reclaim two to three full weeks’ worth of time from not having the fact the commute.
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