Remote revolution takes off |
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Remote revolution takes off

Published on Friday, 14 May 2010
Working from home or elsewhere with the use of mobile technology allows staff to maintain a better work-life balance.
Illustration: Bay Leung
Working from home or elsewhere with the use of mobile technology allows staff to maintain a better work-life balance.

It is a well-known fact that there is a strong correlation between happy employees and satisfied customers. But how do you keep employees happy when they may be spending hours fighting daily battles with an inefficient transport system or juggling work and family commitments?

Achieving work-life balance is all the rage these days and is key to retaining employees.

Encouraging a better balance doesn't necessarily mean reducing working hours because the growth of mobile technologies is changing how and where we work.

The remote work revolution is upon us as more people take advantage of technology to work away from the office, according to a recent Regus/Unwired Ventures report.

Mark Dixon, chief executive of Regus, a global provider of innovative workspace solutions, says many companies emerging from the economic crisis want to spend significantly less on rent and are looking for more staff without taking on additional space.

The report reveals that the target goal for companies worldwide is to reduce costs per head from as much as US$19,000 to US$7,000 through office innovation and adoption of new work styles. Dixon says six factors are driving a shift in work behaviour and compelling firms to reshape and become more agile in an increasingly competitive business environment.

They are demography, culture, technology, sustainability, transport and property.

The benefits go beyond simple financial gains; it can free up resources for companies and allow better cost control, provide more freedom for staff to improve their lives, boost morale and productivity, and reduce pressure on transport infrastructure, which will directly benefit the environment.

Early adopters of this work model include Microsoft, the Macquarie Group, Nokia, RBS, the BBC and Citigroup.

Lancy Chui, general manager of Manpower Hong Kong and Macau, says many companies in Hong Kong are allowing staff to work from home to reduce office space and cut rents.

"It is particularly common for companies that have a lot of international collaboration. Because of different time zones, working from home will be a better alternative."

Andrea Williams, managing director of Ambition Hong Kong, is sceptical that firms will automatically reinvest savings from rent by raising headcount or salaries.

Alice Wu, of public relations firm ElitePro Consultants, says technology has made conducting business easier and cheaper for small firms such as hers. "I can now work between meetings and anywhere [I want] as long as there is a coffee shop for me to use my netbook. We have moved from Central to a smaller office in Chai Wan, saving a lot of overhead costs," she says.

Going digital  

  • Digital technology reduces reliance on paper by up to 73 per cent
  • Offices are empty 55 per cent of the time, but demands on meeting rooms have increased enormously
  • A range of innovative office set-ups have been created, such as small private "cocoons" for concentrated and on-screen work
  • Fixed phone lines are being eliminated as companies opt for converged telephony and messaging that is delivered to a person - not a desk



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