National Telework Week (12 - 16 November 2012) is designed to promote the benefits and opportunities of flexible working. As high speed broadband becomes more widely available via the NBN, together with advances in mobile networks such as 4G, it's becoming much easier for employees to work from any location and access corporate applications from multiple devices.
The Government's goal is to double telework levels to 12 per cent by 2020 and research indicates that businesses are embracing this flexible working trend. The Optus Future of Work Report 2011, which interviewed 320 IT and HR decision-makers last year, found that 63 per cent of organisations already offered staff the ability to work from home according to HR respondents. At the time, nearly 50 per cent of IT respondents cited that their organisation offered staff remote access to desktops.
Perhaps what's more interesting is the increasing shift to working from any location, not just the home. More than 20 per cent of HR respondents allowed employees to work from any remote location of their choice, with that figure set to rise to 35 per cent by 2014 - 2016. Why? Offering flexible working locations was deemed essential or very important to recruiting and retaining staff in the next three to five years by more than 40 per cent of HR decision-makers. It's a positive sign that an increasing number of businesses are committed to telework and are providing employees with the technology and tools they need to make this a reality.
Smartphones and tablets are also accelerating the mobile workforce trend, making it possible for more Australians to work on the go as highlighted by the Optus Future of Business Report 2012. Nearly 70 per cent of organisations surveyed in the Future of Business report are currently issuing tablets to employees, and this is expected to rise to 81 per cent within the next three to five years.
Recognising that people want to work on their own personal devices, organisations are also becoming more flexible in allowing workers to bring their own smartphones and tablets to work. Only 23 per cent supported bring-your-own tablets in 2011 - in 2012, that figure is 43 per cent. And organisations are becoming smarter about what their employees can do with mobile devices to boost productivity. For example, nearly 50 per cent expected to make web-based video conferencing applications available on mobile devices in the future.
It's clear that a more flexible and mobile workplace is upon us. But delivering flexible working will require organisations to think beyond the technology, from reviewing policies and process such as security, to IT and HR departments working more closely together. National Telework Week presents an opportunity for organisations to reflect and consider how best to deliver the right tools to empower their people to work more flexibly.