Work is no longer a place you go to...

Home working, be it part or full time, increases the flexibility of labour while reducing its cost. The ubiquity of high speed internet connections gives an unprecedented flexibility to deploy work more effectively. This technology evolution also has a deep impact on Western countries economics, environment and on enterprise productivity.

Leading management consultants have found that employers expect to use more part time, temporary employees for an optimal use of their permanent workforce. Home working technologies will make it possible to hire a temporary workforce on an ad-hoc basis. This added flexibility could decrease the labour cost by nearly one third in the U.S. and Europe, helping to narrow the off-shored labour cost differences.

Another key factor is the impact on the environment. Home working has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 million tons in 2020. Alcatel-Lucent has calculated that the roll out of home working in one of its subsidiaries of 900 people, home working 50 days a year, had saved over 2,534,000 kilometres (1,575,000 miles), which is the equivalent of driving 63 times around the planet. It saved 318,200 litres (70,000 gallons) of gas.

Each employee also saved money: €231 (£183) each year and time by avoiding more than 100 hours driving during rush hours.

In addition, HR found that remote employees were more productive and satisfied across generations. GenY enjoyed a better work/life balance, and it helped retain and maintain the productivity of 55+ workers. For high performers, setting up their own work while working from any place was liberating and empowering.

What changes in work practices when an employee becomes a home worker? Tasks workers will access their business applications from their laptops while enjoying the voice quality of their IP phone which is just another extension of the telephony system. Knowledge workers will often prefer to collaborate through their PC, enjoying additional media such as IM and video and sharing presentations on line with colleagues, customers and partners. Lastly, travelling knowledge workers will, in many cases, prefer to collaborate from a tablet PC.

But if work is less and less a place we go to, communication and collaboration tools of choice should have the availability they have in the office, providing great ergonomics and be easy to use.

Download Amillan and Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise's guide to Unified Communications and the evolving workplace.

This article originally appeared on The Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Blog and is published with permission