Flexible working minimises the impact of a disaster and cuts costs

One of the key things that may be holding UK organisations back from enabling remote working is identifying the correct technologies that will cost effectively provide what they need. It is widely accepted that remote working is a key ingredient to help employees work more flexibly and be more responsive, but how do you get the investment required signed off in these difficult times?

This is especially relevant in the current economic and political climates. For example, at the beginning of April 2009 the introduction of legislation extending employees’ rights to request flexible working came in. This legislation, which applies to parents with children under the age of 16, means the right to request flexible working has been extended to 4.5 million additional workers, providing added impetus for businesses to re-evaluate their flexible working practices.

The good news is that businesses can now access new technologies in more cost effective ways, allowing them to support flexible working more easily and without the financial burden of capital expenditure.

Work from anywhere at any time

The key to implementing effective flexible working practices is to ensure remote workers are able to successfully, and securely, access key applications such as business email, with the same ease and speed as office-based colleagues.

The biggest benefit to workers with the tools to work remotely is that they can operate more efficiently and have the choice to work from locations other than their regular office, choosing the times to complete tasks when they will be most productive. It also helps parents who have to plan their days around their children as now they can work around their family and social commitments.

Companies already operating in this way typically tend to be more responsive to their customers and are better placed to continue operating as normal in the event of a disaster, such as the bad weather the UK experienced recently.

Flexible working and the network

Interestingly, the rise of flexible working may mean organisations need to consider their network infrastructure and whether it is up to the task of deploying solutions such as VoIP and video conferencing, to enable remote workers to maintain vital contact with customers and colleagues. For this to work, the network must be able to cope with different types of traffic and be secure from threats at all entry points.

Pay as you go computing

To address today’s varied business challenges, increasing numbers of organisations are looking to implement technology solutions that are delivered as a services. This helps to cut costs as the financial and operational risks normally associated with IT investments a greatly mitigated. With a cloud computing infrastructure in place it is now possible to deliver computing services that are consumed as a utility, only paying for what you use and when you use it. What this means to UK businesses is that they can improve operational performance while removing the intensive administration burden of managing in-house IT systems.

The Channel Opportunity

This new legislation signals a huge opportunity for the channel to benefit from the recurring revenues of a managed service business model. UK companies will be looking to them for advice on how to use their resources in order to get more for less. Many businesses will need to re-assess their infrastructure to accommodate remote workers, and accessing advanced networking technologies as a service is the desirable choice.

The benefit of this model for channel partners is they can proactively help customers cut costs while reducing the number of support calls and freeing up their own resources to focus on related, wrap-around services. The customer will be able to rapidly reap the benefits of the service through the implementation of the new system, which requires no capital outlay and is managed on a fixed monthly cost basis. This gives them real value for money and allows them to budget their IT expenditure accurately, with no nasty surprises.

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Hugo is a seasoned telecoms professional and leads Star’s Unified Communications strategy. He is responsible for delivering Star’s Network Services products, working with customers to develop new voice and data products and services to solve today’s business challenges.