Teleworking – Buzzword or reality?

There have been some articles in the news media recently dedicated to the rise of “teleworking”. To me the term already seems out of date as it seems to refer to the use of a telephone (invented around 1876) when today it is much more likely that internet technology will be used.

According to Wikipedia, the term telework was coined in 1973, which will explain its old fashioned sound. However the term now refers to the use of any communication technology to enable workers to work outside of a centralised office, which for most people will be at home.

Usually the tone of any discussion on telework follows the theme that telework is possible now but that it is perhaps underutilized, Australan Prime Minister Julia Gillard has set a target of having 12% of Australian public service workers regularly teleworking by 2020.

Enough about the theory though, can teleworking work in practice? And is it something that is suited to small business?

Here at The Accounting Hub, we have just brought on a new team member who will telework almost all of the time. For us this works for a variety of reasons:

  • no time wasted commuting
  • no office space required for the team member
  • the ability to provide a benefit to the team member (time with their family) in a way that does not cost money for the company, so does not need to be passed on to clients.

In general, this arrangements fits with our goal of providing better value Chartered Accounting Services, by enabling us to scale our business without increasing our overhead costs.

Doing this required no special hardware or software as we are already using the cloud computing systems Google Drive, WorkflowMax and Xero. Using these systems makes sense from a cost and functionality perspective without needing to work remotely, but when two or more people are working on the same project from different locations cloud systems come in to their own.

A common criticism of working away from a central office is that it is difficult to have the spontaneous discussions which help to facilitate information transfer in the office. Using Skype though we are able to have real time conversations either typed or voice or video if required so at this stage are happy without meeting regularly in person.

So for us the use of teleworking is not of passing interest, it is the way that we intend to move forward with our business. I suspect that we are not the only ones!

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