Survey Highlights Growth of the ‘Anywhere Office’ Phenomenon

IP telephony provider ShoreTel has announced highlights from its ‘Anywhere Office Survey’. Results showed 92% of respondents were employed in organisations where employees work away from the office for part of the working week. 93% of companies had IT systems in place to enable employees to work away from their offices [office anywhere working] and a third regarded IP telephony to be among the most useful applications their enterprises employ, with 45% having an IP telephony-enabled phone system to manage calls inside and outside of the office.

ShoreTel commissioned the survey of 105 UK IT managers to discover how many companies had systems in place to enable employees to work away from their offices, and to see how easy it was to manage the staff’s offsite IT requirements. According to Gartner, by 2011, 112 million corporate employees globally will be affected by remote access in their jobs [1]. Business today occurs wherever employees may be – at the office, on the road, at home or in a hotel – the office can really be anywhere.

Other key findings from the survey include:

– Going remote – Just over half (53%) of IT managers believed that having staff working away from the office did not make their job any harder.

– Staying connected – 73% of respondents had remote access to e-mail, 69% had use of a BlackBerry or similar device, while 54% had remote access to the company network and 45% used IP telephony.

Top tools – Three quarters of respondents regarded remote access to e-mail as being one of the most useful applications for remote working. Remote access to the company network, use of a BlackBerry and IP telephony were also regarded as highly useful applications.

Ease of use – Remote access to the company network via a VPN or similar was rated as the hardest system to manage by 37% of respondents, while IP enabled phone systems and e-mail PDAs were regarded as the second hardest.

Fixed location – Only 7% of IT managers had no applications in place to enable staff to work offsite at anytime.

Daniel Cooper, IT manager at Intersystems comments on the company’s experience, “The two main benefits of implementing a Internet Telephony system for us have been the significant cost savings between our numerous European offices and our headquarters in the US, and the level of control we can now give our end users over how they manage their own communications. The knock-on effect of this is that it reduces the administration workload on our technical staff.”

Steve Timmerman, vice president of marketing for ShoreTel comments on the findings, “Organisations need to develop better tools to support remote employees, both to deliver high customer satisfaction and productivity, as well as to retain good people. For some IT managers, this increased mobility is proving hard to manage. Having applications that are easy to use and manage is essential.”

Timmerman continues, “ShoreTel is seeing IP telephony technologies increasingly applied to mobile and remote workers. The most significant use is in enabling out-of-office workers to use ‘PBX’ functions such as forwarding, transferring, or the conferencing of calls from any device, anywhere.”