Virtual drivers

*Green initiatives growing as business drivers for telecommuting, flexible workplaces

Several factors drive companies to consider and establish a virtual workplace, ranging from facilities cost savings, agility, better employee productivity and flexibility, and improved culture.

Generally, cost savings has been the primary business driver for companies who allow their employees to work anytime, anywhere—from a branch office, a home office, an airport, beach, or hotel room. For example, Nemertes has found the real-estate costs in an urban area range from $11,000 to $20,000 per worker, and drop to $7,000 to $10,000 per worker when companies move the offices from expensive cities to less-expensive suburbs. Move employees to home offices, and the real-estate costs drop to virtually zero.

Although cost savings often is a compelling reason to let people work from or near their homes, I’ve recently spoken to several IT executives who are starting virtual workplace initiatives driven entirely by a so-called corporate “Green Policies.”

You can’t help but notice all of the green initiatives among vendors in print ads, TV commercials, and at conference speeches. They boast when, for example, their products use less power than competitors and extrapolate the meaning of that power savings in terms even a child could understand.

For large, global companies, these green initiatives could have profound impacts on not only environmental concerns, but also quality of life, cost savings, and employee flexibility.

“Green” is the buzzword these days, so for IT staffs or even non-IT employees, the environmental savings associated with working from home or a nearby branch office may be the selling point that hits a chord with the executive decision makers. For some pointers on the environmental benefits of telecommuting, check out this site, which focuses on the topic.

If your company is trying to determine how to be more environmentally friendly in a variety of areas (manufacturing, purchasing, etc.), chances are that you’ll find a favorable response to the benefits of the virtual workplace.

Editor's note: Starting Tuesday, Nov, 13, this newsletter will be renamed "Branch Office Best Practices Alert." Subscribers to the HTML version of this newsletter will notice some enhancements that will provide you with access to more resources relevant to branch office networking. You will still receive Robin Gareiss' analysis of this market, which you will be able to read in its entirety online at NetworkWorld.com, along with links to relevant news headlines of the day. We hope you enjoy the enhancements and we thank you for reading Network World newsletters.

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