In the wake of hurricane Katrina, many companies are probably revamping their business continuity plans and wondering what they can do better when such a disaster -- natural or otherwise -- occurs again.
One often overlooked idea is now becoming more viable: teleworking. And not just for a worst-case-scenario planning but as a way for companies to save on footprint, operations, and aid in employee retention all while enabling the work/life balance so important to many employees today (not to mention saving employees gas money).
Five years ago teleworking (or telecommuting as it was once called) was an idea many thought was just on brink of taking off. But, like so many technology-enabled predictions, the idea fizzled somewhat; broadband, application mobility and remote access, PDAs and WiFi were all absent from the scene.
Technology Here Today
Today, however, much has changed. Broadband is becoming ubiquitous, WiFi is a lot more than just an idea, just about everyone has a cell phone and the ability to access email remotely, 3G cell phone networks are gearing up to carry ever increasing amounts of data, voice over IP (VoIP), etc., etc.
''The way technology has advanced in the past five years has been really helpful in making teleworking more efficient more productive and therefore more feasible,'' said Bob Smith, director of the Telework Advisory Group at World At Work, a HR professionals association. ''You'd be hard pressed these days not to find some level of connectivity.''
Perhaps the best part is most large organizations already have the technology they need to enable a tele-workforce. Windows Terminal Server, Citix, hosted applications, Internet-based WANs, VoIP (in some cases), Blackberry contracts with RIM, portals, SSL/VPNs or IPSec VPNs for secure communications, etc.