Recessionary bosses champion home e-working culture

9 Sep 2009

Business leaders are abandoning a culture of ‘presenteeism’ during the recession in favour of getting staff on the move and ensuring they are able to deliver greatest value while at their most productive.

While IT budgets haven’t escaped the recessionary axe, a study of senior IT decision makers, conducted by Citrix, found 85pc of Irish and UK businesses have increased their investment in remote working over the past year. Some 95pc of respondents expect this expenditure to increase again in the near future.

“This is all about ensuring staff are productive, not just present,” said Niall Gilmore, country manager at Citrix.

“Businesses have realised there is a false economy in sitting staff at their desks and simply expecting them to be productive. That may happen best when staff are on the move, on-site with a customer or partner, or working from home – or in fact anywhere they can get online.

“Employers must make sure that when inspiration strikes, staff can add value, not just man-hours, to the business. Flexibility and agility are key to getting companies through this recession.”

These themes were reflected in further findings from the study. More than half of those questioned said IT’s main focus is now on improving productivity within the business, rather than simply reducing costs. Respondents cited virtualisation (82pc) as the most important technology to embrace in the current climate.

Gilmore added: “The threat of disruption to business continuity from the swine flu pandemic demonstrates it’s more essential than ever that businesses have the technology in place to allow remote working.

“Having experienced the snow chaos earlier this year and the summer floods of 2007, businesses know how damaging it can be if staff are unable to get into the office. Irish industry cannot afford to take time out; continuity is essential to ensuring survival.”

For small businesses where mobility is paramount, a virtual office built around products such as Windows Small Business Server 2008, Sharepoint and other virtual and collaborative tools, is a secure and sound investment which enables organisations to grow and compete in the current economic climate,” said Bill O’Brien, business manager in charge of server and tools at Microsoft.

“The complexities of IT have been removed, bringing enterprise-level security and resilience to firms with as few as two or three employees and no in-house IT expertise.

“By investing in the right IT, such as virtualisation, unified communications, collaboration and mobility, you allow your workforce the ability to maximise efficiency through flexibility and productivity,” O’Brien added.

Francis O’Hare, technical director, DataSolutions said: “As the research shows, delivering corporate applications and data to remote devices may no longer remain a service which IT departments begrudgingly, (if at all), offer to staff – it is becoming an essential service. In the past, this reluctance to allow remote working has been fuelled by a lack of confidence in the ability to do so securely and efficiently.”

Photo: Some 85pc of Irish and UK businesses have boosted their investment in remote working this past year, a study by Citrix suggests.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years