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Growing remote workforce offers advantages for employees, businesses

The rapid adoption of cloud computing and mobility in the workplace, compounded with the ongoing development of the business phone system, has made the prospect of teleworking more realistic than ever before. Now that organizations have advanced endpoints capable of performing complicated computing tasks that can use sophisticated technologies to connect to the corporate network from virtually anywhere, large and small firms can strengthen their remote workforce without jeopardizing operations or inviting unnecessary risk.

Teleworking can also improve employee satisfaction and deliver multiple advantages to the enterprise. This was highlighted in a recent study of 300 business decision-makers and teleworkers by Staples Advantage, which found that nearly all respondents believe the ability to work remotely is mutually beneficial for employees as well as the company. In fact, more than half of executives said telecommuting can produce a stronger, more productive workforce.

Staples revealed that 37 percent of decision-makers reported that fewer employees were absent when a robust remote working program was incorporated into daily operations. Another 75 percent of executives said they noticed happier workers, while 45 percent of telecommuters said they were less stressed when working from home.

"Telecommuting can help achieve balance between workplace demands and life obligations, but being successful isn't as simple as just sending employees home with their laptops," said Tom Heisroth, senior vice president for Staples Advantage.

In other words, executives need to ensure their businesses uses the right tools to support a strong remote workforce. This can include using a hosted PBX system for better communication and collaboration, as well as advanced security functions to keep telecommuters from inadvertently exposing confidential information.

Keeping a remote workforce intact

While there are a number of technologies that can strengthen collaboration between in-house and remote workers, companies still have a long way to go before they can support teleworking with no concern over exposing sensitive information. Staples revealed that 59 percent of executives said individuals did not use their organizations' backup systems, which made critical data vulnerable.

Staples recommended that organizations take advantage of technologies that support anytime connectivity through a secure platform that has inherent disaster recovery and backup capabilities. A cloud VoIP system meets all of these requirements for a fraction of the cost of traditional phone services, which run on antiquated land lines. By using cloud communications, organizations can leverage a highly scalable and flexible collaborative service that supports a growing remote workforce without introducing new risk.

Having the ability to back an expanding teleworking strategy will become more important in the coming years, especially as the mobile landscape evolves and grows. A report by IDC noted that the global mobile worker population will reach 1.3 billion people by 2015, which is roughly the equivalent of slightly more than a third of the world's total workforce.

"Despite recent market turmoil, mobility continues to be a critical part of the global workforce and we expect to see healthy growth in the number of mobile workers," said Stacy Crook, senior research analyst for mobile enterprise research at IDC. "Our forecast shows that the worldwide mobile worker population will increase from just over 1 billion in 2010 to more than 1.3 billion by 2015."

In the coming years, decision-makers will be more inclined to support a remote workforce than ever before, largely because of the technologies at the executives' disposal that enables them to do so. By planning ahead and understanding their employees' needs, managers will be able to implement plans that caters to their organizations' unique specifications.