The progress of the Australian National Broadband Network (NBN) installation is roughly halfway complete and the impact on business productivity is becoming a popular topic of discussion. How will this impact the ability of Australian businesses to connect with others in distant locations on a regular basis?
One thing is for sure, teleconferencing has never been so convenient and will only continue to get better with improved connections from the NBN. Gone are the days of being stuck in an office day to day in order to do business!
What is teleworking?
The term ‘teleworking’ is used to broadly refer to any work that is conducted outside of the designated place of business. This includes the use of mobile devices in transit and work undertaken at home or at a different place of business.
What are the key benefits of teleworking?
Teleworking brings a range of benefits to the employee, employer and to society as a whole. Key benefits include:
■ time and cost savings – as teleworkers do not travel to work they avoid spending time in traffic. This time can be used more productively for actual work, or balanced between work and leisure. They also avoid the expenses associated with travelling to work, including fuel costs and vehicle maintenance costs.
■ office expenses avoided – Avaya (2008) estimated that office space can be reduced by one desk for every three teleworkers, with associated floor space and equipment savings. There are also gains made through reduced electricity consumption. However, these are at least partially offset by increased expenditure for the home office.
■ recruitment and retention gains – geographical location is not a constraining factor for teleworkers, meaning the best credentialed applicant can be employed regardless of location. This increases productivity as the successful applicant is better at the job. Additionally, when an existing employee relocates they may be able to stay on and telework, with the employer avoiding any search and productivity costs associated with finding a replacement.
■ increased workforce participation – some of those not presently in the workforce cannot work in a conventional workplace and may not be able to telework during normal business hours. This is particularly true of those who are caring for children or a family member who is ill. The ‘always open’ nature of teleworking and ability to remain with those requiring care may see some of these individuals move into the workforce.
■ infrastructure saving – teleworkers not using road transport as much reduces the need for road maintenance. As the expenditure on road infrastructure in Australian 2007-08 by governments totalled $13.2 billion (BTRE 2009), this gain is potentially large. As teleworkers can live outside of major city centres this also encourages population decentralisation.
Improved working capabilties provided by the NBN will enhance the ability of millions of workers around Australia to teleconference on a daily basis, leading to improved productivity and business efficiency.
The NBN will serve as an important enabler through the other technological services it unlocks. For example, high-quality web conferencing is available and with the high speeds, bandwidth and lower latency of the NBN, this will improve connectivity with remote workers.
Collaborative workplaces with shared desktop viewing and other capabilities are also more readily available and can be utilised between business offices and with teleworkers.
How do you think the NBN can impact your business? Leave us a comment on twitter @ExpressVM and share your thoughts with the community.