Blog Post

UK telecommuting study bolsters case for remote work

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

As we reported a few months ago, on February 8th UK telecoms giant O2 sent nearly 3,000 staff based at its Slough office home to telecommute for the day. Now the analysis of how the experiment went is out and, unsurprisingly considering a slew of earlier studies on telecommuting, O2 discovered a day at home was an all-around good thing for its workforce.

The exercise was partly designed to test how the company might respond to disruption caused by the arrival of the Olympics in nearby London this summer, but the results of the experiment again illustrate the benefits of flexible working even if thousands of world-class athletes aren’t about to invade your city. O2 found:

  • Telecommuting staff saved a £9,000 (currently $14,000 and change) in reduced commuting costs
  • 1,000 hours that was usually spent commuting was instead spent working, while staff also got an additional 1,000 hours of sleep
  • 14 percent said they saw more of their families
  • More than one in three (36 percent) said they were more productive than when at work
  • 12.2t of CO2 was saved in one day — that’s equal to CO2 emissions from driving 42,000 miles in a medium-sized diesel car

IT World offers some explanation of the technical details, which apparently produced no major issues: “In preparation, O2 upgraded its virtual private network (VPN) as well as its network infrastructure, which saw a 155 percent increase in users on the day, and a 110 percent increase in VPN data sent across the network. The company automatically redirected traffic between servers in the north and south of its offices to ensure that the load was spread efficiently and that there were no local bottlenecks.”

“The success of O2’s experiment extends much further than just allowing some of the workforce to stay at home and work. It proves that with the right thinking and planning, even the largest organizations can protect themselves from the most severe disruptions to their business,” Ben Dowd, business director at O2, is reported as saying in IT Wor. He also stressed the importance of proper preparation.

“Four weeks of intense preparation across the business – everywhere from HR and internal comms to IT and property services – laid the ground for an almost completely empty building and a widely distributed workforce,” he said.

Might a one-day trial of telecommuting be a good step towards remote work for your business?

Image courtesy of Flickr user team|b.