Snow Storms highlight the need for an effective remote working strategy

The recent snow fall and current flooding has inevitably left a lot of the UK workforce unable to venture into work over the last couple of weeks. The Federation of Small Businesses estimated that 20 percent of the UK working population, (the equivalent of 6.4million people) did not make it to their office last week during the heaviest of the snowfall.

For some companies this could have spelt disaster, especially in the current economic climate. However, for those that had invested in systems that allowed employees to work effectively from home, the results of having so many people away from the office was to some extent nullified.

However, not all companies will have been so prepared, and Viatel, a leading business communications provider, believes that the recent events should act as a wake-up call for a lot of UK companies. With so many factors now driving the flexible/home working agenda, companies must begin, if they have not already, to look seriously at implementing solutions that allow employees to work at home.

As well as offering quick ROI, a crucial factor for IT managers in the current economic climate, the benefits for companies implementing such solutions, will be seen not only during extreme times, but also during the normal working-week. The increased flexibility that such solutions provide allow employees with other restrictions such as child care or transport issues to maintain and even increase productivity, helping to solve some of the more difficult challenges facing UK companies today.

Steve Powell, product manager, connectivity and security services at Viatel, said, “In the past an extreme event such as we saw last week would be counted as ‘one of those things’ by many in the business community. However, companies can no longer afford to write days off.”

Powell continues, “For example, in the recent bad weather, we at Viatel were affected as much as any company with employees unable to make it in to the office. However, due to the use of employee broadband and the Business Continuity plan our MIS team had in place, our staff were able to carry on accessing their normal office applications using terminal services despite the huge increase in load. Instead of the major drops in productivity that some companies experienced, we saw a staggering 20 times increase in remote working.

This would have been a similar story for some companies in the UK, but one suspects that a large percentage still struggled to maintain a ‘normal service’ as they could not offer their staff a viable alternative. With increasing environmental and economic pressures driving the way we work towards a more flexible approach, companies will need to start implementing solutions that allow for effective remote working sooner rather than later – the affect of this latest weather event should simply act as a glimpse into the future for some companies not yet considering these options.”