Unified communications and the sustainable business



I like working from home.  I’m where I want to be, I’m more productive, I’m happy.  I’m close to the coffee machine, close to the garden.

Unified communications technology means I can keep in touch with everyone I need to from my home office. 

Tools like Citrix GoTo Meeting, Microsoft Lync, and Cisco WebEx  means I’m close to any of my clients who want to send me an instant message, start a web chat or invite me to a conference call.

So why are so many workers still making the commute into work? 

This doesn’t demonstrate commitment to the socially optimised business, nor does it improve employee productivity.  Employees that spend hours and hours on the road travelling to work every day, tend to be less productive than those who work from home.

Commuting is hell.  When I worked for Microsoft, i lived 130 miles away.  On the days I went into the office, I could expect a 5 or 6 hour round trip.  Travelling into London from where I live is an hour on the train – and then there’s the journey on the underground to contend with before I get to my destination. 

There are many jobs that lend themselves perfectly to the working from home model. Programming, any type of writing /editing / blogging, and call centre work can all be done remotely.  And workers are proud to work from home too, praising the company attitude to working from home and the commitment to the environment.  Working from home is not without its challenges though, but the benefits are far reaching.

The University of Oxford cited teleworking as a key factor in reducing carbon emissions with almost 10% of the working population in the UK now working from home:

Teleworking has been linked with lower absenteeism, improved recruitment and retention, higher productivity, good work-life balance and good quality of life. Teleworkers tend to work longer hours than non teleworkers, and identify this as one reason for their improved performance, but see reduced stress and better concentration as more important factors.

The World Wildlife fund Workplace to anyplace report ties virtual meetings and telecommuting to a decreased ecological footprint and higher quality of life: 

Managers no longer have to keep an eye on someone sitting at a desk which is a pretty out-dated and ineffectual means of optimising productivity and effectiveness

In addition to organisations enforcing  no travel days for their staff to keep the environmental budget down, companies might consider implementing work from home Friday – not only to save the cost of the commute, but save the cost of the building facilities, heating, air conditioning and lighting.

That’s definitely worth considering a conference call instead of a face to face meeting… Smile

Image credit: Flickr

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.