London, UK 16th January 2002: Teamphone, the leading supplier of Web-based Unified Communications services for flexible working, today claims that the number of UK workers spending all or part of their day working from a location other than their main company office, such as from home, has surpassed two million. The company further predicts that the number of UK flexible workers 'mainly' working from home will top 400,000 in 2002.
Commercial pressures to cut office costs, environmental pressures to cut pollution, social pressures on businesses to give employees a better work/life balance and legislative changes that encourage flexible working have all conspired to bring about an increase in flexible working figures in recent years according to the company.
The rate of increase in flexible working accelerated during 2001 says Teamphone due to the adverse effects of an ever-worsening UK rail situation and the events of September 11th. "These events encouraged some companies to try out flexible working for the first time and accelerated other companies' moves towards decentralising their workplaces," says Stephen Meyler, President of Teamphone.
"We've also noted a growing recognition amongst more businesses of the need to support an existing mobile workforce with appropriate strategies and technology - in particular in areas that require flexibility such as sales and support."
Teamphone's estimates, based on the company's continual assessment of the flexible working environment and its market observations, are in line with UK labour force statistics issued by the National Statistics Office. The last UK labour force survey, conducted in the first quarter of 2001, estimated the number of full time homeworkers to be 347,000, and the total number of full and part time flexible workers to be 1,783,000. The company's estimate of over two million UK flexible workers today assumes a conservative 12% growth in these 'official' figures since the first quarter of 2001 - the same percentage annual rise as the National Statistics Office reported between 2000 and 2001.
A BAD YEAR FOR BUSINESS TRAVELLERS
"2001 was a disastrous year for many sectors of the business travel industry with airline and rail companies being hit particularly hard," said Stephen Meyler, President of Teamphone.
Teamphone's claims are supported by evidence from various sources that shows travel problems are impacting UK business:
* The recent SWT strike is estimated to have cost the South East economy in excess of £10 million in lost production. Some commuters battled for over 7 hours on each of the days, in an effort to get to and from work, on the restricted rail service. However, the AA reported little additional traffic on the roads, suggesting that many people, 'decided to stay at home rather than try to struggle into work'.
* The number of trains cancelled on Britain's railways rose by 45% between 2000 and 2001 according to figures compiled by Don Foster MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow DTLR Secretary. In the first 9 months of 2001, passengers were deprived of nearly 85,000 services he claimed (http://www.liberal-democrats.co.uk)
* British Airport Authority (BAA) figures released in December 2001 revealed that its seven UK airports handled 10.6% fewer passengers in November 2001 than in the same month in 2000 with October 2001's figures down 12.0% on the previous year. (http://www.baa.com)
* Transport for London Street Management (the highway and traffic authority for a 550 km road network) claims that there are over 10 million vehicle hours of congestion in the Central London charging zone every year (or an average of 2 minutes of delay for every kilometre that a vehicle travels). It further claims that drivers in Central London can expect to spend around one third of their journey time at a complete standstill, and travelling at less than 10mph for another 50% of their journey. (http://www.streetmanagement.org.uk)
Travel problems have merely been a catalyst in convincing businesses to push flexible working further up the boardroom agenda according to Alan Denbigh, Executive Director of The Telework Association. "Time and again, businesses have proven that flexible working can cut costs, save time and have significant employee welfare and environmental advantages. Teamphone's predictions are consistent with our own thoughts and observations."
"With more businesses making the transition to flexible working, the cost to business of future travel problems will decrease. With the implementation of flexible communications systems, such as Teamphone, employees can be equipped to work effectively from anywhere, whether that means from home, from a delayed train or from a traffic jam. In a society where 24/7 contactability and customer responsiveness are ever more important, flexible working companies can continue to thrive, while the transport infrastructure may degenerate further, " concludes Meyler.
Teamphone provides unified communications solutions and services to companies wishing to introduce hot-desking, teleworking and flexible working practices. These services, which include unified messaging, single number 'follow me' services, presence management, call management functionality and email, are accessible via any web terminal, at any time.
Individual and team profiles can be published via the Internet, allowing colleagues, contacts and customers to view availability and select appropriate communication tools for making contact. A simple click of the mouse can initiate a telephone call, email, SMS or voicemail message to the individual or a team.
Teamphone supports a wide range of networks and devices, including voice, mobile and the Internet. Customers include: BT, WorldCom, Equant, Microsoft, HP, Barclays, Prudential, NHS Trust Hospitals and Virgin Atlantic.
ABOUT THE TELEWORK ASSOCIATION
The Telework Association assists organisations to implement telework schemes and supports individual teleworkers. Call 0800 616008 or see http://www.telework.org.uk for more information.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
T: 020 7306 7309
Adrienne Routledge/Michael Gray
Tel: 020 8 744 9168
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