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July 25, 2008

HR Fact Friday: Rising Commute Costs = Rising Telework Spending

Filed under: Management Practices6:00 am

Prior to 2008, telecommuting (i.e. working from home) was a perk reserved for the chosen few, road warriors, or employees of progressive companies that embraced the ‘virtual workplace’ concept.  But with gasoline costs burning through a larger and larger share of employee income, employers are now looking for ways to ease the financial hardship of commuting workers.

Some employers are subsidizing public transit costs. Others are modifying work hours and offering 4 day workweeks. Movie passes and dinners for two are quickly being replaced by gas gift cards as the preferred job-well-done workplace reward. But what about cutting out the commute altogether and having some employees work from home?

Many employers remain skeptical about the productivity levels of teleworkers. But at the federal government level spending for telecommuting technology is on the rise. A survey of federal government managers released by Telework Exchange, and partially funded by Research In Motion, shows that spending on telecommuting technology (laptop computers, BlackBerry type mobile communication devices, remote access security software, tech support, network  infrastructure, etc.) is set to increase.

In the next two years 68% of respondents predicted IT spending on telework would increase. Defense Department officials predicted a spending increase of 15%, compared to 17% in civilian agencies.

Desktop and laptop computers are expected to account for more than one-fifth of telecommuting expenses the survey found. Respondents were asked to rate the most important aspects of telework technologies. The responses were:

Voice, e-mail, or instant messaging communications (66%)

Remote network access tools and infrastructure (43%)

Remote access to desktop applications including intranet and files (41%)

Remote security (30%)

Remote access to back-end systems and databases for IT staff (25%)

Source: HR Magazine, July 2008, pg 22, Telework Influencing Technology Investments by Rita Zeidner

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