Remote working improves productivity and cuts costs - survey

Businesses that give their employees the flexibility to work from home benefit from productivity improvements and lower operational costs, according to a survey.

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Businesses that give their employees the flexibility to work from home benefit from productivity improvements, lower operational costs and a more talented workforce.

This is the finding of a new survey by CompTIA, in which 78 percent of the 212 respondents said that their companies allow at least some telecommuting.

More than two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) ranked increased productivity as telecommuting's chief benefit. They said productivity improvements mainly stem from the ability to work during the time employees would otherwise be commuting to the office.

Nearly 60 percent of respondents checked off cost savings as another significant benefit of telecommuting. Their answers to how much money their companies have saved by allowing telecommuting varied widely, resulting in an average savings of $696,000 (£399,000). The median and mode amounts saved were $10,000 (£5,700).

Cost savings came from not having to pay travel expenses, such as mileage reimbursements, or for office-related materials.

Other advantages of telecommuting that respondents cited include:

- The ability to hire the most qualified staff, regardless of where they live (noted by 39 percent of respondents)
- Higher employee retention rates (37 percent)
- Decrease in employee stress (25 percent)
- Ability to reduce auto emissions (17 percent)

When asked about the most significant challenges telecommuting presents to organisations, more than half of respondents (53 percent) picked securing corporate information systems. Notably, most of the challenges respondents ranked the highest were technical, not managerial.

Limiting the use of unauthorised and unsupported devices was the second most significant challenge, cited by 38 percent of respondents, followed by controlling personal use of corporate mobile assets (33 percent); supervising lower-level workers (32 percent); supporting different mobile devices, such as BlackBerrys, iPhones and Treos, (30 percent); and integrating those devices with other enterprise systems (27 percent).

Respondents noted that their organisations have taken measures to address these challenges that telecommuting presents: They've upgraded network circuits, VPN equipment and VIP client software. They've also expanded security training and implemented new virtualisation technologies.

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