One of the benefits of a solid Internet / Telecommunication infrastructure is the ability to work remotely. More and more companies are incorporating this possibility as a benefit to their employees, and it makes sense.
Up to a few years ago, working from home was an unattainable dream. Without computers, we used typewriters and paper reports that were heavy and could not be easily carried. Telephony was almost a joke in several countries, with extremely high prices for fixed lines and no data connections. And I am not talking about the 1950s, that was a reality up to early 1990s.
Fast-forwarding 20 years, we see that things have drastically changed. The early 2000s were the experimental phase; mobile telephony exploded, and even though data connections were slow, they allowed a connection to email servers. I became a user of remote connections in 2002, especially when I had to work on weekends. It was a dial-up connection, transferring files took a long time, but it saved me at least one hour in commuting. With my mobile phone, I connected to conference calls, and I was both more productive and more satisfied. The scenario was similar in Latin America, parts of Asia and Africa; things were better in the United States and in most developed countries in Europe.
The subsequent 8 years were impressive. Computers moved from slow single-cores to fast multiple-cores. Memory expanded, and broadband was largely deployed. I got a 10Mbps connection at home, fast enough for everything that I need to do today – that will for sure change in 10 years, nothing is fast enough forever. That speed had a broader impact in my remote working ability: I could not only access e-mail, but I had a fully working setup at home. Before, I could only use the phone to connect to local colleagues, as international calls were extremely expensive. With high speed, I got a fully working remote extension, connected to the company’s PABX and to all global branches. Immediate access to everyone, with decent quality. Speed also allowed full access to all servers, intranet, and above all, corporate applications like SAP. Meetings became productive with the introduction of video calls, along with sharing tools for remote presentations. So, for office workers, a remote desk is something possible.
The benefits for our society are large. Commuting takes at least an hour in major cities, with a good part of the population spending over two hours. That is a stress building time, especially if you are driving. By staying at home at least once a week, we reduce the carbon emissions by over 14%! We have more time to spend with our families, and to do what we want and need: exercises, relax with our kids, read and have some fun that helps us to reduce our stress levels.
Companies are starting to understand these benefits. Less stress has a visible positive impact in productivity and team morale. It is a powerful retention tool, employees will think twice before accepting an offer from a company that does not offer such benefit.
And what about you? Is your company ready or deploying working from home?
Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net