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Survey: Broadband Access Boosts Teleworker Productivity

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According to this year’s telework survey by the International Telework Association (ITAC), Teleworking Comes of Age with Broadband, access to a broadband Internet connection away from the office is key to increasing teleworker productivity.

For teleworkers working from home one day per week, those with a broadband connection compared with those using dial-up, saved their employers more than $5,000 every year.

“Speed equals success,” said Tim Kane, president of ITAC and president of Kinetic Workplace. “At 19.6, 28.8 it just was not working.”

At AT&T, where 33% of the company’s managers work from home at least one day per week and 7,500 employees are full-time teleworkers, that number can be significantly higher, said Joseph Roitz, AT&T’s telework director and ITAC research committee member.

“When we set up a person with a virtual office we receive better than a one-year return on investment,” Roitz said. “If you take someone who interested in productivity and you put them at home with a dial-up connection — it just doesn’t connect. Broadband enables the work to become transparent.”

AT&T’s program nets the company more than $150 million in increased worker productivity output and savings every year and that number is expected to rise as more and more employees have access to broadband either in their homes or at a remote location.

“It just can’t help but increase if you see things like the WiFi networks roll out and broadband become more available,” he said. “Things like VPNs, all that stuff is there for a reason: because people are working anytime, anywhere.”

Of the $150 million, $100 million comes in the form of productivity gains (teleworkers average an additional productive hour per eight-hour day, which translates into six weeks of extra productive time every year); $35 million is saved by reductions in office space, and an additional $15 million is netted from lower employee turnover, Roitz said.

The report also found the use of broadband improves virtual teamwork and increases employee telework program participation. At AT&T, Roitz also noted teleworkers tend to do better on reviews than their office-bound colleagues.

Joanne Pratt, who is president of Joanne H. Pratt Associates, the firm that conducted the research for ITAC, further noted that “broadband dramatically increases use of technologies like home networking. Almost three times as many broadband users have a home LAN as compared to dialup users.”

Year-over-year, teleworking has been on the increase for many years now. According to ITAC’s Kane, there were some 28 million American workers teleworking at least on day a week in 2002.

By 2006, Kane expects upwards of 50 million people, or 30% of the American workforce, will be teleworking. But, to be included in this number, a teleworker must incorporate technology into their day, said Roitz.

“There has to be an aspect of technology associated with it,” he said. “If a house painter came over and painted my house, would you call that working out of the office?”

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