Friday 6 May 2005

Are smaller enterprises in a better position to get the benefits of telework?

Further news on the investigation by the Australian Federal government into “telework”:

ComputerWorld reports that Dr Neville Meyers (who I recall meeting at a telework conference last year in Brisbane) has presented findings from his research to the government committee that show telework results in a 30% increase in productivity and better work-life balance (as long as you don't become an info-maniac of course!). Meanwhile this week the Sydney Morning Herald also reported on other research by the Australian Institute (read a summary - PDF file) that in Sydney some working parents are spending more time traveling to work than they do with their children and overall long commutes result in nervous tension and higher blood pressure. So one way or the other it looks like we need telework.

But Dr Meyers suggests that the biggest challenge is overcoming the resistance of Australian corporations to embrace telework. Perhaps this is the wrong sector to chase – the SME sector may be in a much better position to embrace telework because the sad fact is that a whole range of new human-centred and user-driven technologies – from mobile computing to social software – are currently evolving outside of the formal control of corporate IT departments.

Just yesterday I saw an example of a small regional transport business taking advantage of “corporate” technologies such as thin-client and mobile computing. Where there is a willingness to give it a go and the setup cost is reasonable, smaller enterprises typically have the flexibility to implement it and get on with it. So it may be that as we see more powerful technology placed in the hands of non-technical users, the larger companies will struggle to keep up unless they find a way of embracing these user-driven technologies.

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