Large-Scale British Teleworking Experiment Shows Promising Results for the Future of Flexible Working
by Paul Rudo on 07/05/12 at 9:48 pm
British Telecom company O2 has launched a 3-year sustainability plan in which they aim to help business employees collectively eliminate 160 million tonnes of carbon emissions by eliminating half a million miles of unnecessary driving through teleworking and flexible working practices.
In order to help meet these goals, they’ve recently launched a very ambitious experiment where they allowed 2500 internal employees to work from home for one day in order to measure both the sustainability benefits and business benefits of flexible working practices. Although teleworking is common amongst smaller firms, larger organizations have met with mixed results… and have been reluctant to treat large-scale mobile working as a core business practice.
This experiment is one of the largest and most ambitious teleworking projects we’ve seen, and the results have been quite impressive.
- 88% of employees who participated in the experiment saw no negative effects on productivity, and 36% actually reported an increase in productivity.
- Overall, it was calculated that 42,000 miles of driving distance were eliminated, resulting in a savings of 12.2 tonnes of CO2 since employees didn’t have to commute.
- The average employee gained an extra 45 minutes of free time that would’ve otherwise been wasted in traffic. And 52% of these employees indicated that the extra time was devoted to work. In addition to the time savings, employees also saved a total of £9,000 in transportation costs.
- The empty office experienced substantial cost-savings in terms of power, water usage, and other expenses.
IT infrastructure is often seen as a weak point when it comes to managing a mobile workforce. And because of this, O2 took precautions to ensure that every employee was able to get online and communicate with internal systems.
- The network infrastructure was upgraded to ensure that it could easily handle the massive spike in network usage from virtual workers. Load was also spread to servers across multiple locations to avoid bottlenecks.
- Since security and privacy are a major point of concern when it comes to teleworking, the VPN technology was also upgraded to ensure air-tight protection. At one point, it was reported that 1990 users were accessing through the VPN.
- The company deployed a new Microsoft Lync system in order to ensure more reliable video, audio and sharing.
- The IT help desk did not notice an unusually high number of calls during the experiment, when compared to normal days.
The successful experiment conducted by O2 shows that mobile working not only offers great benefits to employees and the environment, but it’s also very practical for large enterprise and can bring substantial cost savings and strategic benefits.