Teleworking take-off as more SMEs go mobile

8 Mar 2006

Almost one in three owner-managers and senior executives in Irish small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) now works from home at least one day a month, according to new research commissioned by O2 Ireland.

More than one in 10 (12pc) work from home more than four days a month. Of those who work remotely, 37pc said they do so to increase productivity and get more done without the usual day-to-day office interruptions.

Just over a quarter of those surveyed (27pc) cited convenience as the reason and 14pc said it provides a better work-life balance. Some 11pc telework to avoid being held up in traffic; this is an increase of four points from last year’s survey.

The research was conducted by the independent market research company TNS MRBI on behalf of O2. Now in its third year, the findings uncovered a slight improvement in use of broadband over previous surveys: 42pc of respondents said they have broadband access from their office, up from 34pc last year. One third have broadband access from home, an increase from 23pc in last year’s survey. More troubling was the fact that 50pc said they had enquired about broadband and found it was not available.

“Broadband availability remains a big issue,” commented Paul Farrell, marketing director of O2 Ireland. “Our survey suggests the further you go from Dublin the worse it gets, which is a barrier to decentralisation policies and overall competitiveness.”

More than half of those surveyed (57pc) use email and almost half of this sample set accesses their email from outside the office. Home is the most common location for this, in 41pc of cases; 21pc do so from an internet cafe. One in three respondents uses a laptop for the purpose and 8pc said they use a handheld device such as a BlackBerry to access email when on the move.

The survey threw up another interesting statistic: almost three quarters of Irish SMEs (73pc) rely solely on paper-based trading, such as when issuing invoices. Only 3pc said they use automated or electronic trading and 17pc said they use a mix of paper and technology.

By Gordon Smith