Telework New Zealand

Telework strategies that benefit employers, employees and society: profiting from flexibility

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Within this page:

Telework saves on fuel costs, time and emissions (7/9/05)

Telework reduces fuel consumption (17/8/05)

Establishing a telework policy (3/8/05)

Safety and health for Teleworkers (20/7/05)

CHOGM Congestion

Far from the Maddening Crowd? (Employment Today, July 2000)

Light Rail for Auckland?

Opportunities Lost?

Out of Sight; Out of Mind?

Traffic Demand Management - an oxymoron?




Articles and press releases

These articles have been written in response to news reports and commissions.  All are now rather old but could provide interesting perspectives...

September 7, 2005:  Telework saves on fuel costs, time and emissions

Whether it is called working from home, remote work, flexible work or just ‘doing it from a distance’, telework has become a very important working practice. It delivers major cost savings, reduces congestion, saves fuel, increases productivity and saves time.

Studies by Telework New Zealand show that a commuter travelling 10 kilometres every morning could save around $2200 a year in fuel, operating expenses and car parking if they worked from home two days a week. They would also keep 800 kilograms of CO2 and 45 kilograms of other toxic emissions out of the atmosphere.

"Not only can commuters make significant savings in their fuel costs, they can also get a lot more work done," says Bevis England, Director, Telework New Zealand.

How much work can you do in an average day? How much time is being wasted commuting? If the average commute was only 25 minutes one way, staying at home two days a week would save 83.25 hours. Studies in the US suggest that up to half of this time is used to do more work.

Another way of looking at this is to imagine how much work could be done in the first hour of every day. In the time it takes an average commuter to dress, have breakfast and get to his or her desk in town, most teleworkers will have already done over an hour’s work.

These savings are only part of the benefit individuals will gain, according to Telework New Zealand.

"Individual commuters are not the only ones to benefit from telework," says England. "Employers can also make significant savings with telework arrangements in place."

Once staff retention and recruitment savings, productivity enhancements, absenteeism reductions, and space savings are factored in, teleworking organisations can gain up to $300,000 per annum, per 100 staff.

"These benefits are not unusual or extreme," according to England, "but sound planning and implementation procedures are essential. And it is important to establish a clear telework policy and guidelines to ensure that all potential benefits are maximised and problems minimised."


August 17, 2005:  Telework reduces fuel consumption

The Ministry of Economic Development’s recently published Oil Demand Restraint Options for New Zealand report states that telework (called telecommuting in the report) makes a significant contribution to anticipated fuel savings.

"This is a timely recognition of the benefits that telework offers to New Zealand," says Bevis England, Director, Telework New Zealand. "Reduced fuel consumption is one of many important benefits from telework and it is pleasing that a major Government report has now acknowledged this."

Although the report mentions that management reactions to telework could reduce potential fuel savings, there are many other benefits from telework. Promoting these benefits in advance and working to implement appropriate telework arrangements will ensure that negative management reactions are minimised.

"We look forward to working with the Ministry as it develops the necessary guidance documents and information packs to promote and support telework in New Zealand."

Not travelling to work will naturally lead to a significant fuel saving regardless of the length of the disruption to our fuel supply. But telework will also save considerable fuel now, making future disruptions less likely. That the report acknowledges the value of promoting and supporting telework immediately is to be applauded.

"The report does, however, have a few problems," says England.

  • The definition of telework that is used is relatively narrow. It refers directly to the use of information technology although this is not always necessary. It also refers specifically to ‘working at home’ although there are a number of potential alternative workplaces involved.

  • In the calculation of the potential saving attributable to telework, the number of employees who could feasibly telework is estimated at a little under 300,000. "Our calculations are that up to 400,000 New Zealanders could be teleworking," says England.

Second, average commute lengths in many of our cities are much longer than the 10.25 kilometres mentioned in the report and there is no allowance made for the increased attractiveness of telework for those with longer commutes. According to Management Technology Associates in the UK, if the top 15% of car commuters (in terms of mileage) switched to telework it would halve the UK’s total car commuting miles, petrol use and congestion.

Third, elsewhere in this calculation, the potential fuel saving is reduced by 25% due to increased discretionary travel by teleworkers. This is debatable. Californian research (Henley & Associates) found that discretionary vehicle miles travelled actually reduced by 22% when work-related discretionary vehicle miles travelled reduced by 20%. "In our experience," says England, "commuters do not use their vehicles when they are working from home. They have a job to do and want to complete it: they go shopping on other days."

If these three figures were amended, the anticipated fuel saving could be much higher.

  • The report suggests that telework will be more effective over the short term but experiences with the Auckland Power Cut showed that although much ‘telework’ was possible, for most employers it created major problems. To be effective, telework does have to be planned, and implemented, in advance. Doing this will also reduce the risk that management reactions will reduce the potential for fuel savings. Implementing telework in advance will also contribute to energy and fuel savings, long before these become critical.

  • US Federal Government research based on a project in Puget Sound suggested that up to 10% net energy savings were possible from teleworking. This figure included savings in areas other than vehicle fuel, e.g. the power saved in office heating, ventilation and air conditioning, but some of this power is generated from oil fuels in New Zealand. These potential savings have not been included within the MED report.


August 3, 2005:  Establishing a telework policy

Telework New Zealand has released a new management resource designed for companies who are considering implementing telework programmes for their staff.

The resource is designed for managers to use as the base for developing their own telework programme.

"There is no one-size-fits-all telework arrangement," according to Bevis England, Director of Telework New Zealand. "But there are some basics that are always present in successful programmes. The resource we have prepared sets out the success factors and presents a draft policy that covers most of the important issues."

While some employers have simply provided employees with remote access technology and allowed them to work off site whenever they feel like it, this is not the most successful form of telework and can create problems. In the most successful telework programmes, the employer has developed a policy document in consultation with relevant employees and managers.

"In our draft policy, we establish guidelines to cover most of the likely scenarios," says England. "Performance management suggestions and an answer to the question ‘Who pays for what?’ are both provided. We have also provided a questionnaire that will help individuals work out whether telework is right for them. The questionnaire could also help supervisors identify who can and can’t telework."

Telework is a form of flexible working that has become increasingly popular in many countries around the world. It is most successful when it is thought about as a management strategy that targets improved profit and productivity by supporting work away from the traditional office. It often involves staff working at home, a day or more a week, using technology and better resource planning to replace the daily commute.

Telework delivers both tangible and intangible benefits for employers. In some cases, the employer has gained $300,000 per annum (per 100 staff). In others, improved flexibility and trust, combined with a more productive and enjoyable work environment have led to much lower staff turnover and higher morale. Employees have also benefited with lower commuting costs, significant time savings, and better work-life balance.

"One of the significant benefits of telework is its affect on traffic congestion and pollution," says England. "Telework has been shown to reduce peak hour traffic by a significant percentage. If only 5% of Auckland’s commuters did not use their cars two days a week we’d keep close to 30,000 tonnes of CO2 out of the atmosphere. We’d also save 2.8 million hours of lost productivity and over $50 million in fuel costs and vehicle maintenance.

"We want to make it as easy as possible for New Zealand companies and commuters to realise these gains."

Establishing a Telework Policy (Policy) provides a simple guide to many of the issues involved and direct assistance for managers wanting to set up telework programmes. It is available from Telework New Zealand as a physical or electronic document and can be supported by targeted consultation and workshops.


July 20, 2005:  Safety and Health for Teleworkers

Telework New Zealand has released a guide to occupational safety and health for teleworkers. The guide identifies risks and problems that teleworkers working at home could face. It provides a work sheet to help teleworkers identify problem areas. The guide also provides considerable information on ways in which risks can be minimised and avoided.

The guide, designed for employers to distribute to teleworking staff, is only available from Telework New Zealand. See OSH for teleworkers for more information.

Telework is best understood as working from a distance. It usually involves employees working at home or in other locations for some of the time every week. Although the word ‘telework’ may be new to many, flexible work practices, mobile working, and work-life balance policies mean that many employees now fit the teleworker label.

"Although working from home instead of commuting is becoming an increasingly popular option in New Zealand, there are some problems", says Bevis England, Director of Telework New Zealand. "Employers are uncertain about the legal requirements of our occupational safety and health act as it applies to teleworkers."

Under New Zealand legislation, employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees, "as far as is practicable". This can be relatively complex for employees who are working ‘off-site’.

Employers who take their OSH responsibilities seriously will inspect the intended off-site work place and monitor how it is used. Some will supply all office furniture and equipment. But the most important action any employer should take is to ensure that employees are aware of the potential risks and how to minimise them. This is why the OSH guide was prepared.

The guide, written in layman’s language, covers a wide variety of potential risks and how to overcome them. It is based on extensive experience and consultation with a variety of professionals. The guide is designed for employers to distribute to their staff before telework starts. It is also designed to supplement the employer's existing OSH guidelines.

"We have found that stress, caused by overwork, performance concerns, and inadequate time planning and management skills, can be a major cause of problems in the home office," says England. "We have looked at this issue in some detail within the guide and provide many suggestions and ideas that will be helpful for teleworkers.

"Employers can gain up to $300,000 per year, per 100 staff, through sound telework practices and we want to make it as easy as possible for employers to realise these benefits. That is why we are making this OSH guide available."

The guide is available in two forms: as a bound document or in Microsoft Word format. Telework New Zealand can also provide a two-hour workshop for employees to support the guide.

Telework New Zealand has been promoting and implementing telework arrangements since 1989. The company works on both sides of the Tasman.


Far from the Maddening Crowd?

You've probably read something like this before:
"It's 7:30 in the morning and Peter Maxted has just finished his daily two-minute commute. Peter is one of that new breed of worker who works from home. His clients are spread around the city and around the world but with Internet-based email, he is able to answer their requirements quickly and efficiently from his home office - without sitting in rush-hour traffic for hours …"

The article might go on to tell you that there are millions of people like Peter, that his spouse and children enjoy the extra time with him, and that Peter's clients are really impressed with his productivity. It might also suggest that 40% of all employees think that they could work the same way but only 16% of employers will allow it.

It's all true - but it's also misleading.

It's true that telework offers significant productivity advantages, that there are millions of teleworkers around the world and that few employers (especially in New Zealand) presently allow their staff to telework regularly. It's also true that the individual teleworker (and his or her family) can benefit from telework.

But these articles are also misleading. For a start, you don't have to be self-employed (like Peter) before telework delivers benefits. Telework doesn't have to be 'a full-time thing' - most employees who telework do it on only two or three days a week, at most. You don't have to rely on sophisticated (or even basic) technology for telework to work well. And these articles also imply that almost everyone could telework and that it is really easy to set up.

At its simplest, telework is nothing more than 'working from a distance'. But this simple approach is not always the most helpful - it glosses over many of the important issues. Telework New Zealand takes a more considered approach and defines telework as "a management strategy that maximises profit and productivity by enabling, supporting and effectively managing the performance of work in non-traditional work places".

This definition does not mention technology: successful telework programmes are "technology enhanced, not technology dependent" (as Gil Gordon, the US telework specialist puts it). Neither does it mention the home office: there are many possible alternative work locations. What it does do, however, is emphasise corporate benefit. It also suggests that successful telework implementation relies on the effective management of people and tasks. There are very few examples of successful telework where the only thing right was the technology: but there are plenty of successful case studies where the only thing right was the management.

In New Zealand, telework is still very much in its infancy but it is growing. There are probably only a few hundred conventional teleworkers here, i.e. people who work off-site on one or more days every week. (This excludes those for whom the traditional work place is, or should be, on the road.) Organisations as diverse as insurance companies, banks and legal practices, government departments and local government authorities, and computer vendors and manufacturing companies have, however, put telework programmes in place. (In some cases, telework is part of a package of 'family-friendly' policies.)

The key issue addressed by all these enterprises is, first, a clear vision of the corporate and individual objectives the programme is to meet. Without this focus it is easy to get confused by the perceived costs, or by irrelevant benefits. If the focus is to save money this year, the cost of setting a teleworker up could be important. If, on the other hand, the objective is to save on staff turnover, both set-up costs and possible space savings could be irrelevant.

Once a clear objective is available, it is possible to design a 'model' of how telework will operate within the enterprise. There is no 'one size fits all' telework solution: what works for one company won't necessarily work in a different enterprise. The model will spell out how many staff could be involved, how many days (or hours) will be teleworked per week, whether home offices or telecentres are involved, and so on. (On the basis of this model, a detailed cost-benefit analysis can be prepared.)

Finally, the model, and its operational details, has to be documented in a form that makes it possible for all employees to consider themselves as teleworkers. This 'policy' describes the form of telework involved and spells out who pays for what, the eligibility requirements, and how telework arrangements can be terminated.

Underpinning all these steps, sound telework programmes seek to involve all managers and staff in an on-going consultative exercise to ensure that all possible problems are accommodated. The final programme will deliver many benefits - not the least being up to $300,000 per annum, per hundred staff.

Peter Maxted is no longer particularly unusual, and telework is no longer 'new'. It is a proven way of working that delivers many benefits. The key is to ensure that sound implementation procedures are involved.


Traffic Demand Management - an Oxymoron

Accommodating the continuing growth of our major cities is posing unnecessarily high costs on tax payers, rate payers and businesses.

"This has been known for some time," says Bevis England, director of Telework New Zealand, "but all the solutions so far proposed have missed the point."

Many recent news stories have highlighted the costs associated with, for example, motorway maintenance, congestion, new transport terminals, and harbour bridge extensions (such as bus lanes) and replacements.

With congestion costing in excess of $60 million dollars per year, (on Auckland's motorway system), and with alternatives presently under consideration likely to cost hundreds of millions of dollars more, there is a desperate need for a cost-effective solution to our cities' traffic congestion.

Congestion costs are eating away at New Zealand business' competitiveness while the costs associated with the proposed 'solutions' will pose a continuing rates burden on urban rate payers and tax payers for decades to come.

According to Telework New Zealand, all these solutions will not only be very expensive: they also miss the point. Most proposals assume that trip demand will continue to grow and concentrate on accommodating these trips.

"Smart planners don't accommodate the problem they are trying to solve: they endeavour to eliminate it," says England. "If a fraction of the proposed transport expenditure was spent on eliminating trips, traffic congestion would probably take care of itself.

"Traffic Demand Management is an oxymoron because it assumes the existence of demand and then sets out to manage it. Traffic Demand Reduction should be the primary focus of our transport plans."

There are many trip reduction techniques available but the most successful in many international settings has been telework and similar non-traditional work place arrangements. These not only reduce the number of trips made at peak hour, they also directly increase the profitability of our business community and improve the life style of every employee involved.

Telework could also start to demonstrate real results within a matter of months (in terms of reduced traffic pollution and congestion) as opposed to the ten or more years that some of the other proposed 'solutions' will require.

"Despite the logic that drives trip reduction, all our high-profile commentators on traffic issues have completely ignored it," says England.

Telework has been shown to reduce peak hour traffic demand by over 5% -- and continue to grow with no cost to anyone. If widely implemented it has the potential to halve the congestion, pollution, energy consumption and costs associated with commuting.

Telework New Zealand has been working in telework and related fields since 1989. It is Australasia's only consultancy specialising in telework implementation and has worked with public and private sector organisations on both sides of the Tasman.


A Light Rail Project for Auckland?

While no single transport initiative is likely to solve Auckland's traffic congestion, it is disappointing to note that resources appear unfairly distributed between the various options. With Friday's news reports concerning Auckland Regional Council's decision to review the light rail proposal, the debate has once again been directed towards projects with costs measured in millions and entailing extensive infrastructural work. (Saturday's comments from Ian Revell, regarding the Harbour Bridge, are simply a further extension of this focus.)

There is a smarter, cheaper option to both light rail and new bridges - telework, directly reducing the need for travel. Like light rail, bus lanes or any other vehicle-based transport solution, it will not be the total solution but it is preferable in many ways. Rather than paying to accommodate travel it is surely smarter to reduce the need for it.

At its simplest, telework is a business strategy that enables and supports work at other than the traditional work place. It has been shown to reduce peak hour traffic demand by up to 5% (within the first few years and higher percentages thereafter), reduce nett energy costs associated with commuting by 10%, decrease pollution, increase employee productivity and job satisfaction by up to 40%, reduce absenteeism by 40%, improve management skills and contribute directly to community revival, office space savings, and much more.

It might not be accurate to directly compare light rail with telework but, ignoring all the other advantages of telework, the following comparison makes the point fairly clearly:

The light rail argument The telework response
Can utilise existing rail lines There are already trains running on these. Why aren't they more effectively promoted.
New link up Queen Street Costs money and will cause considerable traffic disruption and congestion, even after its completion.
Could service west, south and east Telework 'serves' every street, office and house. Properly organised bus services would provide more extensive coverage than light rail. Telework also serves the North Shore. (Even with light rail, the Harbour Bridge will remain a problem.)
Core system would be expandable At more cost later? Telework utilisation also expands over time at virtually no cost.
A solution to Auckland's traffic problems When both trains and buses have not succeeded in reducing these problems, why should another form of public transport?
Environmentally friendly Telework is better
High speed and chic, according to one proposal Have you seen a chic train? Telework has been called the one-minute-commute: no train is that fast.
Reliability Telework is more reliable (in this context).
Infrastructure can embrace urban renewal projects Telework can breathe new life into existing urban centres and (even if telecentres aren't used) generate more vital suburban life.
Highly attractive to car users Are they trying to say that drivers of company cars will leave them at home? Telework reduces vehicle use by 22% even if the teleworker is only teleworking one day a week.
Best solution to serious traffic congestion problems Only once it has been shown that the cheaper (free?) alternatives can not take the 'edge' off the congestion. The smartest solution to traffic congestion is to reduce the demand for travel.
Mobility impaired have easy access But they would rather not have to travel as often or as far anyway -- which telework makes possible.
Affordability At $300 million? For around 0.1% of the projected cost of light rail, and no capital or investment overheads, telework (in conjunction with other alternatives) could provide considerably greater benefits.

The basic problem with light rail is that, as public transport, it will suffer from the same problems existing public transport suffers from - not going where you want to go, when you want to go, and not allowing flexible usage throughout the day. Given that Auckland already has widely spread business centres (Henderson, Manukau, Albany, Tamaki, Penrose, Takapuna, etc.) cars will still be needed (in many users' minds) for trips throughout the day. Cars will still be on the road every rush hour.

Telework is not a perfect or total solution - some of the arguments against public mass transit systems could apply to telework as well and telework will not be right for every individual or company, although the exceptions are a small minority. But the important point is that it is effectively free, has many other advantages aside from traffic congestion, and needs to be recognised for the potential it undoubtedly offers.

(Note that telework does not necessarily involve the home or expensive technology. Nor does it entail being out of the traditional office all of the time -- the US average is 1.57 days a week away from the traditional office.)

To propose the expenditure of millions of dollars without first assessing the impact of telework is a potential waste of money. As telework becomes increasingly popular in the Auckland region, trip reduction could make severe inroads into the profit margins (and payback time) of any large capital project.

Further, to propose this investment on one possible solution to congestion without also proposing even a marginal investment in telework appears unreasonable, if not irresponsible. (The strategy presently only endorses a loosely worded form of telework.)

Telework is a proven approach to reducing traffic congestion; it costs very little (comparatively) to implement; and it provides the only win-win-win solution, benefiting individuals, companies and the community at large. It deserves wider practical consideration than it is presently given.


CHOGM Traffic Congestion -- STAY AT HOME

I have listed a few points below, which might make interesting radio over the coming few days. I will be available on 811 8024 should an on-air discussion be considered interesting or worthwhile.

1. With Auckland's motorway system effectively closed for most commuters, this coming Friday and Monday are ideal opportunities for Auckland businesses to experiment with Telework.
Road closures and severely restricted traffic flows at rush hours this coming Friday and Monday will make large areas of Auckland's CBD virtually impassable to normal traffic. Congestion is probably already as much as many commuters can bear.

2. Telework means that employees and managers do not need to travel to the office every day. Expensive technology is not essential.

3. Auckland City suggested public transport as an alternative to traffic congestion but did not mention telework. This is strange considering that public transport could become equally congested while telework eliminates the problem at source. It is also the only alternative that holds significant advantages in the longer term.
Other cities, when faced with congestion problems, have encouraged people to stay at home. Why didn't Auckland say the same? (Los Angeles used the 'work at home' approach to ensure that athletes could get to the venues during the 1984 Olympics.)

4. City planners were informed about telework and its potential for both this current problem and on-going transport problems some months ago. They did not make any response.

Telework in its true sense is a management strategy that enables and supports the performance of work at other than the traditional workplace. Its wider understanding and implementation could reduce peak hour traffic (every day) by over 5%. Local Councils are prepared to spend $3.6 million to gain a reduction of only 3.6% (with the Bus way on the Harbour Bridge) -- and yet they do not mention telework at all even though it will cost themselves and their ratepayers virtually nothing. An event like CHOGM provided an ideal opportunity for the Councils to get a stronger message about traffic congestion and its alternatives across to the City's driving public. (Auckland Regional Council's current Land Transport Strategy endorses telework as one alternative to traffic congestion.)

Businesses and staff across the city should use the coming few days as an opportunity to experiment with telework and STAY AT HOME.


Out of sight; Out of mind?

Despite the many financial benefits it offers, telework will not be widely implemented in New Zealand until a basic management phobia is overcome. This phobia is rarely verbalised but the root of the problem is usually expressed as a question: "But how can I manage staff I can't see?"

According to many commentators this is the single most important obstacle to a wider adoption of telework.

Although the question appears glib, and can be answered equally glibly, it also requires serious answers, according to Bevis England, Director of Telework New Zealand, the national telework consultancy.

"Telework does not mean the employee is 'out of sight' every day or all day," England says. "The average teleworker is only out of the office for around 12 hours a week (1.5 to 2 days a week or 2.5 hours a day). As a result it is often not necessary to change the way staff are managed at all -- they are still in the office for the majority of the working week.

"On a more serious level, a closer look at how staff are presently managed is critical.

"Few managers would willingly admit to judging employees by their visibility. No-one is naive enough to conclude staff are working productively simply because they are in the office. The computer could be on but they could be playing games or 'surfing the net'; they might be on the phone to a bank manager rather than a client. Many staff are more productive away from office distractions.

"It often comes down to trust. No manager will employ people without trusting them. And if an employee can be trusted to perform in an office, he or she should be trusted to perform wherever the work is done."

According to England, it comes back to sound management approaches that ensure staff are well briefed and appropriately monitored, regardless of where they work. "Management by objective is the basis of effective management whether staff are teleworking or not. Even though it might not be normal in every enterprise, it is the smart way to manage," England says.

The manager's phobia can also be reduced by considering basic worker psychology. General Norman Schwarzkopf has been quoted as saying: "People go to work to succeed. Nobody goes to work to fail. It seems obvious. So why do so many organisations operate on the principle that if people aren't watched and supervised, they'll bungle the job?"

"Modern managers recognise that they must enable and motivate their employees to succeed," observes England. "This is far more important than where the work is done."

"The bottom line is the understanding of telework that a manager has and how the programme is implemented," adds England. "You cannot just give an employee fancy technology, send them 'home' and expect everything to work out fine. Telework is not right for every person or enterprise."
According to England, effective implementation ensures that only suitable staff become teleworkers, and only suitable supervisors manage them. (This might mean that supervisors who manage on the basis of visibility could be moved, to a department with less teleworkers, for example.) Furthermore, telework is usually implemented voluntarily. Either the teleworker or the supervisor can terminate or alter the arrangement (with notice) if problems emerge.

"If problems do emerge with certain individuals, managers or employees, there is always an 'out'", says England.

However, England acknowledges that logic and 'best practice' might not be sufficient to overcome management phobia. "Fear of telework, like fear of the dark, is often irrational. But even phobias can be cured, with appropriate treatment."

One such treatment is gradual exposure to the cause of the phobia. For example, telework can be implemented gradually. "You don't need an all-or-nothing approach," England says. "Management can move gradually through the various stages of tolerating, permitting, enabling and supporting before fully promoting the strategy. Once the financial advantages have begun to emerge, even the most intransigent manager will allow staff out of his or her sight."

Bevis England is Director of Telework New Zealand, New Zealand's national telework promotion and implementation agency. Telework New Zealand has been assisting enterprises and individuals to assess and access the benefits of telework since 1989.


Opportunities lost?

New Zealand business is in danger of being left behind in its application of international trends and innovations, according to Bevis England, Director of Telework New Zealand, Australasia's only specialist telework consultancy.

"New Zealand's enterprises are missing out on major cost-saving opportunities and employees are not benefiting from the full potential of new management and strategic approaches," England says.

England has recently returned from a major consulting exercise in Perth, Western Australia, where a variety of enterprises are actively adopting new workplace strategies such as telework and working from home.

In one case, a state-wide power company is looking at using telework strategies to support a programme of shared office space that should see the company halving its real estate commitments. Since the company owns two CBD buildings, the potential profit from this arrangement is very high.

In a major educational establishment, senior executives are investigating the potential of telework as a catalyst for cultural changes within the enterprise, to reduce costs throughout the enterprise, and to provide better services for students.

Three separate government departments, including Transport and Commerce and Trade, are also building telework approaches into their plans for future policies, services and operations.

"These are not isolated examples," according to England. "There are many other projects underway in Australia and further afield. But in all these cases, there has been a conscious effort to design telework programmes that answer corporate and individual objectives and to build the programme into the enterprise at a strategic level."

According to England, it is not sufficient to tolerate ad hoc work from home: you can't get any space savings if out-of-office desk work is unscheduled or uncontrolled. Furthermore, communication channels can become confused.

"Telework must be implemented as a management strategy, targeting the specific benefits individuals, supervisors, and share-holders are looking for. Wherever it has been successful, telework has been deployed as normal work option, delivering workplace flexibility through structured relationships between individuals and their employers. In such examples, the benefits in productivity, morale, absenteeism, staff retention and recruitment, and overhead savings have been measured in thousands of dollars per teleworker, per annum."

Community benefits have also resulted. For example, telework has been shown to be the only reliable and economic way of reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. Its potential for providing support for rural development and for reducing the costs of policing in suburban areas has also been recognised.

"As a number of managers and policy personnel in Western Australia have found, telework can help with many of the ills of modern society, while delivering real benefits to the individual, the company and the community," says England. "If we are to compete in the same international arena as these Australian enterprises, we will need to adopt the same strategy here - and, looking at the costs of the morning traffic jam, it's high time we did so."

Telework New Zealand aims to assist enterprises assess and access the potential of telework, a management strategy that maximises profit and productivity by enabling, supporting and effectively managing the performance of work in non-traditional work places. Neither the home nor sophisticated technology need be involved. Telework New Zealand has been operating for over ten years and has a wealth of research, local and international experience, and a proven set of implementation tools to call on.


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Bevis England, Telework New Zealand,  Phone: +64-9-817 8024 or +64-27-494 0700  Skype: bevis.england

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