Workers breaking office shackles


Slowly but surely, Britons are becoming a nation that works on the move. A survey shows that 90% of firms are using flexible and remote working as part of their normal way of doing business.

The same research reveals that 25% of all employees now use technology to stay in touch with the office and do their job while at home or on the road.

But worries over cost, security and training are stopping firms freeing more workers from their desks.

People not peons

"I think people now accept that work is not about a place," said Lewis Gee, UK managing director of Citrix which commissioned the research.

Mr Gee said the survey considered mobililty in the broadest sense.

"It's not just about the executives that get off a plane and use a PDA or Blackberry to check their e-mail," he said.

The 25% of remote workers uncovered by the survey were using all kinds of technologies to get at the same suite of business programs that employees trapped in the office use.

Of these mobile workers: 90% can pick up e-mail while out and about; 80% can consult core company databases, 59% can browse corporate files and 25% can see financial applications.

Mr Gee said the basic technology was now in place to make it possible for much larger percentages of workers to do their job from almost anywhere.

Key for businesses loosening the reins on staff was making sure they knew what they wanted to achieve, said Mr Gee.

There was little point, he said, in simply handing out laptops, mobile phones or PDAs unless some thought went into how a firm's ways of working would change as a result.

About 60% of the employees and senior executives questioned for the survey said that mobile and remote working technologies had radically changed the way that their business worked.

For many firms the good news about wireless and broadband technologies is that they can reach staff at any time and in any place. For many employees the reverse might be true.

Fears about the costs of hardware and bandwidth, keeping remote links secure and training for staff to use new technologies were hampering the adoption of these technologies, said Mr Gee.

"They are fearful of getting locked on that PC upgrade mill again," he said.

BBC News

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