Telecommuting cost-effective

Staying home could make you a better worker and save your company money at the same time.

Although more people are working away from the office, only 40 percent of businesses have a formal policy on telecommuting, a recent Microsoft Corp. survey shows. Saving gasoline, avoiding long commutes and working in a less stressful environment are the top reasons workers log in away from the office.

Businesses that give employees the support to work remotely could save 10 percent to 20 percent on office expenses, said Michael Clark, Microsoft’s Western regional manager of midmarket customers.

“I’ve walked (into offices) and there are cubicles for people there only one day a week or one day a month,” he said. “Businesses could cut back on office space, cut back on travel expenses and the cost of provisioning phone lines.”

Clark speaks from experience; he spends more than half of his work time away from the office.

“The trend is that more and more workers today are mobile,” Clark said in a telephone interview. “That’s just a reality and is becoming accepted in the general marketplace. Businesses are asking, ‘How do I support workers remotely and what are my security risks?'”

Evolving technology is easing concerns about security. Clark cites significant improvements in encryption programs that protect data and network access protection that provides safe access for employees while away from the office.

“We’ve all heard stories of a government laptop being stolen and all the Social Security numbers that are on it,” he said.

Clark said computers using an encryption program such as BitLocker Drive from Microsoft, are protected from hackers or thieves.

“Working at home is as safe as working at work,” Clark said. “Businesses can regain customer trust and feel confident that the data that goes with that employee outside the walls is protected.”

Changes to telephony have also made it easier to work remotely. Clark said he uses a voice over Internet protocol telephone connected to his laptop and a live messenger program to chat with co-workers and clients while working remotely.

The survey of 25 midsized cities has San Diego in the top spot for remote workers, followed by West Palm Beach, Fla.; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Salt Lake City. Las Vegas ranked 25th.

Of people surveyed in Las Vegas, just more than half believe their job duties could be fulfilled away from the office and about one quarter say their company offers a formal remote work policy.

Check my blog (www.lvrj.com/blogs/onlineguy) for more details on the work-from-home survey, including the complete ranking of cities.

Share your Internet story with me at agibes@reviewjournal.com.

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