Is the office becoming redundant?

A growing number of small business workers are finding it increasingly convenient to work from home. Many factors are combining to make the small business owner realise that renting office space may be less attractive than employing a homeworking or teleworking policy. London, UK (PRWEB) February 1, 2006 — A growing number of small business workers are finding it increasingly convenient to work from home. Many factors are combining to make the small business owner realise that renting office space may be less attractive than employing a homeworking or teleworking policy. The Office for National Statistics in the UK recently reported their analysis of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and indicated that in Spring 2005 there were approximately 3.1 million people in the UK who worked mainly in their own home, or in different places using home as a base. That number represents an increase of almost a million homeworkers compared to 1997. The full report can be found at www.statistics.gov.uk. This trend is consistent with the development and uptake of communication technologies such as email, broadband Internet, wireless local area networks (WiFi), laptop computers, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) as well as a host of web productivity tools. All of these technologies mean that the communications required to carry out daily business activities can be performed affordably from a remote location, simply, cost-effectively and conveniently with just a laptop computer. Top reasons for considering a home-working policy: – Considerable cost savings, including office rent, utilities and service charge – Homeworkers avoid spiralling commuting costs (petrol and public transport fares) – Productivity increases by eradicating the loss of time spent travelling to and from the office – Homeworking is far more family-friendly and will broaden the attractiveness of a business to potential employees – Advances in communication technologies are making it easier and more affordable to perform a range of business activities with just a personal computer and a broadband Internet connection. Technical advances that are threatening the centralised office: – Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), pioneered by companies such as Skype, makes Internet telephony free from one Internet-enabled computer to another – Instant messaging software is advancing fast with online instant video meeting capabilities available – Internet backup software can backup and synchronise personal computer folders and files over the Internet, also making file-sharing simpler outside of the office network – Hosted software platforms enable the secure storage, management and sharing of office data via an Internet application – 21st Century marketing techniques such as blogging, podcasting, affiliate marketing, online advertising and PR are considered cost-effective and low-touch marketing initiatives that can be managed with just an Internet connection One such online software provider is Farrellsoft Ltd, who launched an online small business software service called Business IT Online (www.businessitonline.com) in 2005 to help small businesses eradicate the restrictions that traditional ‘hardware-heavy’ computer networks placed on office-based businesses. David Cruickshank, Director of Farrellsoft says, “Setting up and maintaining computer networks with pre-packaged and installed software products is complex and expensive for small business owners and restricts them from operating a flexible working environment. To be properly flexible, the small business owner now has the option to outsource their hardware, software and communications technologies to Internet providers. By offering a hosted software solution, Business IT Online enables our customers to work from anywhere and remain in secure contact with their key business information.” Cruickshank adds, “The laptop and mobile phone are fast becoming the only resources many small business owners require to stay in touch with the day-to-day operations of their businesses.” So is it realistic that we might start to see the imminent decline of leased office space caused by reduced demand in business Britain? Perhaps that is slightly premature, but the Internet as a distribution channel for a growing number of productivity tools are reducing small business costs and encouraging a new age of tele-entrepreneurship.

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