Go Mobile and Go Home
By Stephanie Blanchard, Assistant Editor
For companies that are hesitant to make the mobility plunge, a week-long event is designed to help businesses change their minds. The third annual Telework Week, set for March 4-8 and hosted by the Mobile Work Exchange, encourages the enterprise to send its employees home to work.
So far, more than 97,320 individuals have pledged to telework, with almost a 20K jump in just the last week alone. The event's goal is to hit 100,000. (The 2012 event had just over 70K participating.)
Mobile Enterprise spoke with David Graziano, director, security and unified access, U.S. Public Sector, Cisco, the main sponsor of the event. He knows teleworking both as an employee and a provider and works with private companies and government entities.
"I live and breathe teleworking," Graziano said, noting he works two days from home and spends three days traveling.
Speaking from home, Graziano noted he had 10 calls scheduled for the day, three conducted through HD video (he wore a nice tweed jack over sweatpants, he said.) His workday allowed him to take calls from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., even with a break for a session with a personal trainer.
Although telecommuting has raised the productivity levels, he still makes it a point to show up at the office. Full time telecommuters miss out on the watercooler talk and "management by walking around," he said. "So there should be a balance."
Information on Demand
"The last 18 months has seen an influx of BYOD which drives the demand to instant information," Graziano said. Companies have responded by becoming more mobile, although some are more eager to embrace the trend than others, especially in the private sector. However, according to Graziano, organizations like Veterans Affairs are responding very quickly to the BYOD phenomena. NASA, he said, even has their own apps that allow employees to enter their time sheets.
Initially, he said, companies implement mobile programs with a focus on productivity gain, then it shifts to being prepared for weather situations like hurricanes and other events. In the end, it winds up improving employee morale.
Savings for Employee and Enterprise
According to Mobile Work Exchange, pledges will collectively save $5.1 million in commuting savings in one week. The average savings per teleworker for the week is $66, or the equivalent of $3,300 a year.
That's on the employee side. On the enterprise side, reducing travel can improve the bottom line. Take for example, two managers covering nine states. Using hi definition video conferencing, instead of the usual field trips, a business can see savings within a year of investing in the equipment. "Do that across twenty employees, and the savings goes up exponentially," Graziano said.
Don't Get Stressed
Telework Week also allows IT personnel to stress test the network. When 10,000 employees are dialing in around 9 a.m., that is when a company will know if it can handle authentication, or how many employees are having trouble with passwords and logins.
"If this was a FEMA event, they would be truly under the gun to make this happen. Isn't it better to do it during a telework week?" Graziano asked. When an emergency does actually happen, a company can then be better prepared and able to recognize potential system problems before a disaster hits.
For those pledging to participate in Telework Week, 90% plan to use a laptop and close to 60% plan to use VPN access. Eleven percent will use virtual desktops. Mostly everyone will likely have a smartphone or other device.